If you have a child who’s leaving the family home for college or marriage, you might find yourself suddenly overwhelmed with feelings of sadness or grief. These feelings are normal and you could be experiencing what psychologists call empty nest syndrome.
Aside from loneliness, empty nest syndrome also manifests in other symptoms such as loss of purpose, frustration due to lack of control over decisions, anxiety about what will happen to your child when they are away and sometimes, even marital stress.
After years of driving your kids to school, attending soccer practice and backyard birthday parties, the thought of not being able to do these activities with your child anymore can be life-changing. At first, it may seem that adjusting to life without your children at home can be stressful but it is possible to overcome.
Here are a few ways that you can do to cope with empty nest syndrome.
Learn to Accept Your Feelings
The first step in overcoming empty nest syndrome is by accepting your feelings. Other parents find it difficult to deal with their feelings because they don’t want to acknowledge them at all. Accepting how you feel is the only way to start resolving it. Give yourself time to grieve and release all your pent-up emotions as this will help you find clarity and peace so you can begin the next steps in dealing with your situation.
Consider Moving Out of Your Home or Downsizing
Your family home may be full of memories of times spent with your children but if you’re living in a big house, selling may be an option. Large houses can be difficult to maintain especially if there’s only you and your spouse who will share in doing household chores. You can consider getting in touch with a local real estate agent for listings of smaller houses or condominiums for sale. Condo living is a great living option to detached homes or townhouses for the amenities they provide.
Reconnect with Yourself and Your Partner
For the majority of your life, you have assumed the role of a parent. Now that it is just you and your partner living at home, it is an opportunity for you to transition back to your old roles as husband and wife. You can start planning activities that you can do as a couple like going on a vacation. However, you should also allot time to self-exploration and self-development by starting a new hobby or honing a new skill.
Give Your Children Privacy
Part of moving on is spending less time thinking about your children. While regular communication is important, you should resist the urge to check on them each time you miss them. Your child needs to grow into an independent adult, and they can only do so if they are able to make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes.
The best way to deal with empty nest syndrome is to tackle it even before its symptoms happen. As you can anticipate the time when your child is going off to college, you can plan with your children phone call or visiting schedules. Going on a vacation with them to make memories or having long talks about the future will help both you and your children prepare for the time when they finally have to move out.