Sending your kids off to college is an exciting time, for them and for you. They’ve made it to the next step into young adulthood. As you watch them pack up their room, clothes, trinkets they can’t live without, you might get a little sad, or a lot sad.
Yes, you’ll miss them. You’ll miss the daily interaction having meals together. You’ll miss going to all of their activities and games. You’ll even miss the chaos of having teenagers running through your home, blasting the television and leaving the lid off the milk container, but it’s more than that.
You’re about to become an empty nester. Are you ready?
What is Empty Nest Syndrome?
Empty Nest Syndrome is not a condition or disease, it’s the label attached to the bundled feelings of sadness and loneliness that often accompany your last child leaving home. It’s perfectly normal.
Often, parents who immersed themselves completely in their child’s lives while they’re growing up have a more difficult time detaching once they leave home.
If your entire day revolved around your kids, you’ll be left with a void that you need to fill with something else.
Don’t be alarmed if your kids leave home and you’re not experiencing bouts of sadness. Are you looking forward to your empty nest? Have you already made plans to turn their room into your craft space? Have you already booked your spa day or that second honeymoon with your spouse?
Empty Nest is inevitable, but how you deal with it is entirely up to you.
Who Are You?
Your identity as a person is about to change, but that’s not a bad thing. You’re going from 24-7 parent to… you. Do you remember who you are? You know, the person who loved to dance or paint or travel?
Even if you worked fulltime while raising children, your main focus was on them. It’s not like you’ll stop thinking about them now, but you may stop seeing them every day and being as involved in their daily lives.
When you come home from work, the house will be empty. Dinner will be quieter. You’ll have blocks of time where you’re not going to their games or recitals. Some relish in this new freedom and others dread it.
Your kids are about to become independent adults. This is what you raised them to be. Be there when they need you, but…
Now is the time to focus on you.
Here Are 5 Things You Can Do to Prepare for The Empty Nest:
- Reconnect with friends. Remember when you had friends who weren’t the parents of your kid’s friends? Plan a lunch or outing with a friend or two.
- Join a gym or dance class. Exercising releases endorphins essential to mental health and happiness. Even if it’s just going for a 30-minute walk every day, you need to get moving. You’ll feel better.
- Plan date nights with your spouse or begin dating again if you’re single. Work on your relationships, especially if they took a back burner while raising your kids. Also, with an empty house, you can do what you want together. Imagine that.
- Go back to school or take a class. You might have put your educational or career goals on hold while raising your kids. Get that degree or learn some new skills.
- Take up a new hobby or rediscover an old one. Join a book club or take a painting class. Do something you enjoy while making new friends.
The point is to replace your old activities, which revolved around your children, with new ones. Get to know yourself and your spouse again. Your empty nest doesn’t need to be lonely.
My Relationship with My Children Will Change
Yes, and that’s a great thing. You now have adult children.
Here’s an amazing thing about your children growing up. As they enter adulthood, they will actually want and listen to your advice.
You may not see them as often as before, but now you can look forward to visits. They’ll come home for breaks during the school year, and the holidays.
If you thought empty nest was forever, think again. They will come home for a couple of months during the summer, and your craft room will immediately change back into their bedroom.
You Can Do This
Times are changing, that’s for sure. Kids grow up and leave the house, it happens to everyone; but this isn’t the time to be sad. It’s time to rediscover you and the things you enjoyed doing before you had kids.