We’ve been preparing for it for years…the time our kids leave our home. It’s great that they are off to college, but after the last child leaves, it can be saddening to parents. As we all know, parenting is bittersweet. We love raising our kids and have spent years getting them ready to be responsible adults, but now that they are actually gone, the house seems empty. We no longer feel needed in the lives of our children.
Coping with an empty nest is something every parent faces. With so many years spent focusing on our children, it can be difficult to move into the next phase of our lives. According to the Mayo Clinic, parents dealing with empty nest syndrome experience a sense of loss that might make them vulnerable to depression, alcoholism, identity crisis and marital conflicts. If you are dealing with a sense of loss due to empty nest syndrome, take comfort in knowing the next stage can actually be rewarding. Here are some tips to help you cope:
- Take Time for Yourself - Now that you don’t have to keep up with your child, you can unwind and enjoy more time for yourself. You may find you actually enjoy the more relaxed schedule. Do something you love that you didn’t have as much time to do before, even if it’s a simple as reading a good book or going to the movie.
- Stay Connected - Keeping in touch with your kids will help with the feeling of loss. Using Skype or Face Time can help you stay connected, but be careful not to do it too often. Your child is also adjusting to the transition of being away from home. Consider setting a day each week that you and your child can talk.
- Seek Support - Talking to friends, family or professionals may help. Don’t be afraid to be open with others who have gone through the same situation. They may have insight into ways that helped them cope.
- Keep a Positive Attitude - Over time, you will adjust to the change. Try to stay positive. Exercise is one way to lift your spirits. Adding more exercise to your routine can help your body and spirit. You may even find you enjoy your new routine.
- Keep Busy - Finding new interests can help. You may even decide to delve back into something you’re passionate about. Volunteering or attending classes may help you determine what you love. If you didn’t work when raising your kids, you may find a new job is a much needed distraction and a way to develop new relationships, as well as areas of interest.
- Rekindle Your Relationship - Raising children takes time and focus away from a marriage. Now you have more time alone with your spouse – without distractions. Most couples experience higher levels of marital satisfaction once they have more time and energy to devote to their relationship
Sources: HowStuffworks.com [health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/aging/empty-nest/5-empty-nest-adjusting-tips. htm#page=3]; www.mayoclinic.org [http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/in-depth/empty-nestsyndrome/ art-20047165?pg=2]