Being a parent is the worst job! Children, for 18 years or so run you ragged, and then they head off to university or a home of their own as they please! Suddenly, you are redundant and your nest is empty! However, a sudden empty nest when your children spread their wings can be challenging.
We have some ways you can ease the burdens that come with the challenging times ahead:
Preparing For Departure
If you are expecting your child or children to be leaving, take time to check that they are aware of how to care for themselves. Make sure they know how to wash their clothes, cook and appreciate the value of money. Whilst these improve with practice, it is important to talk them through it.
They will feel a range of emotions from being terrified to excited about their upcoming new experiences. If they are worried about the prospect of leaving, reassure them by telling them that the unknown is worse than reality. Help them understand that once in their new routine, it will be familiar and fun. Let them know that the family home is their permanent base, for whenever they need or want to return home. This provides you both with a secure sense of belonging and safety.
Look At The Ways Of Staying In Touch
You will feel a sense of loneliness and emptiness when they are gone because you cannot just turn around and have a conversation with them. Staying in constant communication is important for maintaining a sense of family togetherness. Today, staying in touch is easier than it was for past generations – think about the following – buy prepaid mobile phone minutes so that they do not have to be concerned about the cost of calling you, schedule a weekly call-in time, and use email or text for all the in-between times. These are great mediums because you can say things without being too emotional.
Understand Empty Nest Syndrome
Empty nest syndrome is a psychological condition that affects largely women, producing grief when one or more of the children leave home. Most common when children leave for university, or when children marry and leave home to live with their partner – empty nest syndrome can lead to a feeling of redundancy, feeling lost, and unsure about the future – feeling sad and crying is normal.
Get The Support You Need
If you find that you are not coping and feel a deep sense of emptiness, or an inability to get your life back on track after the children leave, it is important to get help. You may be suffering from depression or a similar psychological issue – speak to a professional, cognitive therapy or other types of therapy that enable you to talk through your concerns. Treat yourself – do not neglect yourself, have a massage, go to the cinema, buy chocolates! Talk to your partner about your feelings.
Start Looking After Yourself
Once satisfied that you have set your child on the right path, note all the things you had promised yourself you would get around to – now is the time to start doing them! Build new friendships or revive lapsed ones. Friends are an important part of your transition from parent full-time to person-at-home-without-kids. Take up a new hobby or return to education or restart your career – either pick up where you left off or start a new one! Consider volunteering, if you are not ready to go back to work volunteering is a good way to transition back into the workforce at a pace that suits you!
Rediscover the love of your life
Unless you are a single parent, you will be left with your partner and this can be a difficult time if you discover that there is a problem with your relationship you had not faced because having the children around helped to cement your relationship. If your children were the only bonding force in your relationship, you and your partner may need to work on your relationship. Acceptance that this is a difficult time of transition can allow both of you to forgive the uncertainties and messiness of growing together as a couple without children again, this as an opportunity to rediscover each other.
Focus On The Positives
Focus on the positive changes – although, this does not remove the importance of your sadness and the transition you and your children are going through, it does help you to see things positively. Some of the positives include – the fridge will not need filling so frequently, romance with your partner may increase, there will be less washing and ironing to do, lower water and electricity bills, you can run across the landing naked, join the National Trust and most of all, enjoy the sense of accomplishment that you have raised a child who is capable of going out into the world!
By Jacob White