When children grow up into responsible adults and have to move out of home to go to college or work in another town, they are usually filled with a sense of excitement as they venture out into the world and see what life has in store for them.
However, as a parent you may find that you do not share the same enthusiasm. You suddenly want to hold on to them a little longer. You want them to stay for a few more days. When they eventually leave, you may find yourself feeling a deep sense of loneliness and loss. This is actually a very common condition known as Empty Nest Syndrome.
Full time parents are more likely to suffer from the syndrome because most of their life has been about taking care of the children and raising them to be responsible adults.
When your children do not need you to take care of them anymore because they can do it themselves, it may leave you feeling purposeless and you may suffer grief when they leave home in pursuit of their dreams.
Here are some tips to help you cope with the syndrome if your children recently left home, or are about to leave:
Figure out your new role
You have spent most of your life parenting and maybe it was the most significant role of your life. When your kids leave, parenting will no longer be at the forefront of your life, but you will still be a parent.
You need to find a balance by figuring out what you will do with all the free time you now have. Do not be afraid to try out new things.
Keeping yourself busy will help to overcome the immense feeling of loneliness you may have. Find a new hobby, join a class to learn new skills such as music, painting, poetry, cooking, travel if you have always dreamed of doing so, or join a fitness group.
Reconnect with your spouse
Now that your kids are no longer around, find ways to reconnect with your spouse. Most of your attention may have been for your kids throughout the years, and now is a good time to date your spouse again.
What things did both of you enjoy doing when you were younger? Go out on dates, visit old friends, remake old scenarios like the first time you met, cook for your spouse, travel together, and rekindle your love.
Spending more time with your spouse will help both of you deal with the loneliness of your children’s physical absence.
Who were you before you were a parent?
Another way of coping with the syndrome is by doing things you always wanted but never got to do. What did you want to accomplish but never did because parenting was the priority of your life?
You have nothing but time on your hands now. Explore who you are and reconnect with your former self. Your life will have meaning and purpose again and you will feel less lonely about your kids.
You need to learn how to let go of your child in order to cope with Empty Nest Syndrome. Resist the urge to call your kids every hour and stalking their social media. Turn that focus to yourself, your spouse and whatever new interests you may have.