I didn’t think it would happen to me but here I am trying to manage full-blown empty nest syndrome. You don’t really understand it until you go through it yourself. Since I also battle anxiety and depression, it can be a challenge, to say the least.
What is Empty Nest Syndrome
It is a combination of feelings of sadness, depression and loneliness that hit parents when their children leave for college, get married or otherwise move away from home. Women tend to experience it more than men, but many men go through it as well.
My daughter Ashley, my son-in-law Ramses and granddaughter Anna moved to Hawaii due to his work with the military in June. This was around the same time as my son Joseph graduated high school and has now started college. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention we moved from a two-story home my children grew up in and settled into a small apartment back in February. We did this to try to save money, downsize and live more frugally now it is just the two of us. All of the changes so close together though has been a rough ride.
My Advice on How to Cope with Empty Nest Syndrome
- Don’t do what we did and throw in any other big life changes right around the time you know your child is going to leave home. The less you have to adjust to, the better. Give yourself time to adjust to your new normal before making any drastic changes.
- If you feel that sad loneliness creeping in, find other things to occupy your time other than parenting. Now that you have all of this freedom, think about what you enjoy as a hobby. Do you like to make crafts or play sports? Find a fun hobby to include in your open schedule.
- Set a schedule for contacting your children. Believe me, it is easy to fall into the trap of becoming a clingy parent once your kid sprouts his or her wings to fly. Rather than becoming that annoying parent, set yourself a realistic schedule on contacting and communicating with your children. Run it past them first to make sure it works for the both of you. Setting up a schedule will give them the space they need and you the comfort you want to keep in touch with your kids.
- Shift your focus to your partner. Now the kids are gone, you don’t have to parent anymore. Or at least not the way you did for all these years. It is just the two of you again. Use this time to reconnect with your partner. Enjoy life and do things that are fun for the both of you. Go out on dates again and simply spend quality time.
- Take a vacation. Sometimes you just need to get up and get out. A nice vacation away from home will give you time to relax and regroup. Plan a trip to somewhere you know you will enjoy going. Take your partner and invite friends. You could also make it like a second honeymoon for just the two of you.
- Take the time to get to know yourself. Now that you can focus more time on yourself. Use that time to find out your strengths. We all have things we are good at. Find out what yours are and use those to develop your new season in life as a parent to adult children.
A final thought. You’re not done parenting your children. They may be adults, but they will always need you. Focus on the positive aspect of the empty nest that where you are now is where you can start developing an even stronger friendship with your children that will last a lifetime.