If your last child has recently moved out of your family home or they are about to, you could be experiencing emotions you have never experienced before - feelings of sadness, loss, loneliness or anxiety associated with their relocation. Your whole life has revolved around your children up to this point. You have been together since the day they were born. You are so used to caring for them and having them around. From now on, everything will be different. You might feel unprepared for this huge change and that is perfectly normal. This phenomenon is called empty nest syndrome. A lot of parents struggle with this transition, especially those who have one child. Fortunately, there are several ways to cope with empty nest syndrome and live a happier life. Read on and decide which one(s) fit your personality and lifestyle the most.
Strategies that help parents cope with empty nest syndrome
Focus on other roles
All of us assume different roles in different life stages. We are children, brothers, sisters, spouses, friends, colleagues, etc. However, the role of a parent is often considered the most important one. Seeing their child move out makes many parents feel like they are losing their most important role. The child’s departure often leaves a profound feeling of emptiness that can be associated with a loss of purpose.
The key to dealing with empty nest syndrome is focusing on other roles. You will always be a parent, no matter how old your child is. But, that role won’t be so dominant anymore. You should find other things that fulfill you during this transitional period. Perhaps there is someone else who needs you. If you’re still passionate about your career, now’s the time to become more active. Alternatively, you could dedicatemore time to your favorite hobbies or explore new ones by joining a hobby group, get more involved in your community, or become a volunteer.
Cope with empty nest syndrome together with your partner
Having a life partner can help you a lot during this difficult phase. If you don’t have a partner at the moment, consider dating again. If you and your partner raised your children together, he/she is probably having a tough time, too. Some couples fight more often when one or both of them are dealing with empty nest syndrome. Frequent conflicts and higher levels of tension can harm a family dynamic and eventually lead to divorce. Don’t let this happen to you and your partner. You can cope with empty nest syndrome as a team, by communicating, sharing your feelings and supporting each other.
This is a perfect time to reconnect with your partner and spend more time together. For example, you can finally go ona vacation, just the two of you, without worrying about the kids. Or, you can take on a bigger project like renovating or moving home. If your house becomes too big for you after the kids leave and it feels empty, find a smaller one and call Verified Movers to help you relocate.
Stay in touch with your children
Maintaining a close relationship with your children can ease the transition. But, you can’t do it alone. Both you and your children should make it a priority to maintain regular contact. You can visit each other and stay in touch through phone calls, video chats, texts and emails. You should set a schedule you both agree on in order not to overstep your boundaries.
Give your children some space
Keeping in touch with your children is one of the best ways to adjust to an empty nest. However, you should set some boundaries. Your children might feel suffocated if you call every day or multiple times a day to check in. Being too intrusive may push them further away. It may also limit their freedom and independence. Remember that this is a critical time in their life when they should learn to be on their own.Moreover, you won’t be able to move on with your life if you keep monitoring their social media accounts, texting, and calling all the time. Therefore, try to find other ways to stay busy. As we said earlier, this is the time to take on new challenges in your personal and professional life.
Focus on the good in your life
You may feel that it is too early for your children to leave the nest, but the sooner you accept the timing, the sooner you will be healed. Thinking about the good old days and reliving old memories can make you happy for a brief moment. However, such thoughts make the reality sadder than it really is. Reminiscing about the past and wishing you could go back in time can lead to anxiety and depression. Focus on the good in your life instead. Your children are becoming independent adults and that is every parent’s dream. Be proud of your accomplishment.
Seek help when dealing with empty nest syndrome
You can’t and shouldn’t try to control your kids’ lives but you can control your own. Make it a serious point to look after your mental health. Although no one can replace your kids,there will always be someone you can turn to for support. You have friends and family members, some of whom have gone through the same experience. Even if you haven’t seen them in a long time, it is never too late to reconnect. If that doesn’t help, try seeking professional help. A good therapist can provide the help you need to successfully cope with empty nest syndrome.
Abigail James is a retired restaurant manager and a freelance writer. She covers a wide variety of topics, including lifestyle, money management, and cooking. She is a mom of two grown sons and three cocker spaniels.
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