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Empty Nesters’ Guide: What Can You Do When Your Kids Have Gone Off To College?



The best way to describe parenthood is to say that it is a roller coaster of emotions. From hearing your child’s first word to hearing them say goodbye as they leave for college. It’s moments like these that make parenthood so significant. However, that isn’t to say that a parent can’t struggle with these emotions, particularly when their child leaves the nest.

The grief many parents experience when their children move out of their home is known as empty nest syndrome. Though there isn’t a clinical diagnosis for empty nest syndrome, the common experience is the feeling of loneliness and sadness after your child leaves. Essentially, parents are grieving a change in lifestyle and a relationship with their child that was a huge part of their identity. It can give way to many mixed emotions, such as excitement, relief, anxiety, and sadness.

The reason is that while parents are proud to see their children growing up, aiming for better, and becoming more independent, they still worry for their well-being. They are also grieving over the closeness they had with their child while living in the same house. So if you are one of these parents, there are some things that you can do to relieve this sadness and loneliness after your kids go off to college.

1. Declutter your house

 Having too much stuff in your house, even if it's behind closed closets, can weigh heavy on your energy and impact your creativity. So once your kids leave for college, one activity that can help relax you and distract you during the hardest times is to declutter your house. So if you live in Grande Prairie, we recommend that you find some local storage units Grande Prairie and move all the extra furniture and belongings into the storage unit. Doing so will help you stay busy while you work through the sadness of your kids leaving and make more space in your home. It gives you the option to be more creative. Most of all, it gives you a purpose to work towards while your kids find their own.

2. Volunteer

The best way to cope with loneliness is to surround yourself with other people. But that doesn't mean that you start organizing parties every other day or poker night with your buddies. You can also do volunteer work to be of some use to the community as it not only surrounds you with people but also gives you a sense of purpose. It makes you realize that other people, apart from your kids, need your service and help as well. This motivation can help you overcome the empty nest syndrome. You can volunteer at a shelter, school, or just help your neighbors.

3. Travel

Now that your kids are off to college and you don't have too many responsibilities left, you can travel to all the places you had wished to travel to when you were younger. So start planning trips and getaways to explore different parts of the world and make more memories that can help you overcome the sadness of your kids leaving home. Keep in mind that being a parent was only a part of your identity. Now that you have some time take it out for yourself so that you can travel where your heart desires.

4. Expand your culinary skills

You might have to sacrifice some of your favorite recipes just because they didn't suit your kid's taste buds. But now that they are off to college, you can start exploring your culinary skills by experimenting with baking or cooking. Try out new cuisines and recipes, and expand your palate.

P.S. you can also use all the ingredients your kids didn’t like.

5. Take up some hobbies

There may be some hobbies you had to give up to provide for your family. But now that you have all the time you need why not take up those hobbies again. So remove the dusty instruments and equipment from the attic and get at it again.

Keep in mind that you are not restricted to something you already know. Your age should not stop you from learning a new skill or a hobby. So take up painting classes, pottery, sewing, or anything creative that can get your mind off of things.

6. Plant a garden

The best way to get over your grief of kids flying the cope is to tend to and care for something else. And what is better than planting a bed of flowers or setting up a vegetable garden. It is a highly rewarding hobby since you get a beautiful garden, plants, and fruits. Moreover, getting your hands dirty while nurturing the plants and tending to them daily will get your mind off the worries. It will connect you with nature and bring you peace.

7. Start a business

If you have the time, the best way to get your mind off the grief is to start a business. It can be related to anything that you are passionate about. For example, if you are a really good cook or baker, you can start selling your baked cooks and recipes to other people. If you have a knack for interior designing, then set up a website with your portfolio, secure customers, and get working. If nothing, then you can set up a blog to stay busy. Putting so much work into a business and watching it grow and thrive is a highly rewarding experience (apart from the profits). It will give your life a sense of purpose since you will be doing something you truly enjoy.

8. Don’t miss out on self-care

Now that the kids are off to college and old enough to care for themselves, you can take out some time for yourself and enjoy your life. Keep in mind that just taking a break to give yourself a breather is a form of self-care. So book a spa, take a long bath, sit in your garden to appreciate nature, or snuggle up to binge-watch a series. Now is the time to do things for yourself.


Your kids leaving for college is a proud moment in your life. You watch them get old and independent, ready to make changes in the world. So keep this perspective in mind when they leave home and move away from you. Them moving away doesn't mean it is the end of your relationship with them. It just means that it is a new phase in their life. However, since grief is a natural response, take out some time for yourself to work through it. 


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