For the last one and a half decade of your life, you’ve been focused on parenting. Your house has been buzzing with the cries, laughter, and conversations of your kids. You’ve watched them grow from crawling toddlers to sneaky teenagers, and now, they’re almost leaving to start a new chapter of their lives.
Can you remember how your house felt like without the kids? Probably not! That’s why it may be hard for you to cope when they leave.
Children aren’t the only ones who start a new beginning when they go off to college. You’ll also be forced to adapt to a life without them, especially after your last child goes walks out the front door.
How do you handle the empty nest syndrome without feeling deeply saddened, lonely, or depressed? Keep reading for some valuable tips that will help you to prepare for this difficult stage in your life.
First Things First: Acknowledge the Empty Nest Syndrome
It’s normal to assume that when your kids go off to college, you will be okay with the situation. However, this isn’t always the case. Parents who don’t acknowledge that they may be prone to the empty nest syndrome find it hard to cope with the situation.
First, be aware that you may suffer intense sadness, loneliness, and even depression when your last child leaves the home. The loss you experience can be equated to what you would feel after retiring or getting divorced.
If not managed, these feelings can affect your health, productivity at work, and even your social life. When you know what’s ahead of you, you’ll prepare adequately for it.
Redefine Your Identity
For most of your last decade or more, your greatest role has been parenting. As your last child gets to their final year in high school, you start to realize that you won’t be needed so much as a parent anymore.
As kids grow, they gain some level of independence. When they go off to college, they start living in dorms, managing their finances, and handling their personal, education, and social life with little interference from you.
This situation is usually hard for you to cope with. What is there to do if you are no longer needed as a parent?
There is so much! However, you first have to redefine your identity. Recognize that parenting has now taken the backseat, and you need to be someone more than a mother, father, or guardian.
Focus on Sidelined Roles
One way of redefining your identity is by focusing on sidelined roles. Are there things you used to do before becoming a parent but neglected them after getting kids? Now is the time to pick up those roles.
For example, beyond being a parent, you are also a sister, brother, aunt, uncle, husband, wife, son, or daughter. These are all roles you probably never paid attention to when you had kids.
Focus on them, and they will fill up your days and prevent you from feeling sad and lonely. For example, if you neglected your siblings or parents, now is the time to start reconnecting with them.
Did you use to do DIY decor before getting kids? Pick up that hobby again and start decorating your home. You’ll be more fulfilled and less likely to focus on the empty house.
Dedicate Time to Your Partner
One of the roles that many parents neglect after getting kids is intimacy with their partners. The kids take center stage while romance and intimacy take a backseat.
Once the kids leave the home, you can now focus on your spouse. According to research, an empty nest can promote improved relationships between spouses. Instead of feeling sad about being alone, you and your partner can grow your relationship in the following ways:
- Spending more time together in a quiet home without the interruption of kids
- Reviving date nights and romantic outings
- Taking vacations, staycations, and weekend getaways together
- Picking up a new hobby together
There’s so much you can do to rekindle your love and create new memories with your spouse. Take advantage of the extra time on your hands and the quiet home environment to make this happen.
Find New Hobbies and Roles
Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but never got to it because of the kids? Perhaps redesigning your home? Or taking sewing classes or running a road race?
Now is the time to get to it. Find new things that interest you and indulge in them. The amazing experiences will keep you from feeling sad about not having your kids home.
If you don’t have any interest in a new hobby? You could pick up a new role as well. It could be something as simple as taking up extra tasks at work or as noble as supporting a foster care facility in your area.
Heck, you could even decide to be a foster parent. However, you have to discuss this with your partner and assure your kids that you’re not trying to replace them.
Dedicate Time to Self-Care
One characteristic of parenting is you hardly get time for self-care. Caring for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being becomes a deliberate action. There’s so much to do with the kids that you easily forget to take care of yourself.
An empty home offers the perfect opportunity for self-care. Now is the time to slot this into your daily routine. Some things you could do include the following:
- Create a skincare routine
- Start exercising
- Create a reading culture
- Focus on healthy eating
If you have the time, you could even take a vacation, spend more time with friends and family, or even hit that yoga class you’ve been raving about. You’ll notice incredible improvements in your health, moods, and overall well-being.
Resist the Urge to Check Up Regularly
It’s normal to want to check up on your kids every hour while they’re away. However, every phone call you make leaves you with an empty feeling inside.
Resist the urge to call all the time, and this will enable you and your kids to transition smoothly into the new stage. Limit your calls to a few times every week.
Ready to Tackle the Empty Nest Syndrome?
Feeling sad and lonely when your kids leave off to college or start new lives is normal for parents. However, don’t let the empty nest syndrome consume you and negatively impact your life. Follow these strategies to lead a full, fun-filled, and satisfying life even after you’re left with an empty home.
Check out our family lifestyle articles for tips on tasks and hobbies you can take up to avoid the empty nest syndrome.