As a parent, you potentially spend decades caring for children, so experiencing an empty nest is hard to deal with. The adjustment can be hard, and it’s sometimes difficult to figure out who you are as an individual.
When you struggle to adjust, it is known as empty nest syndrome.
Empty nest syndrome is when you feel an overwhelming sadness and a sense of loss when your children leave home. It can lead to being unable or unwilling to let your children live autonomously. Plus, it can cause serious problems in your marriage or relationship.
Luckily, since many parents have been through this, there are ways to cope with an empty nest. The quietness and sense of missing something will be hard to adjust to, but there is a way to do it.
These strategies for dealing with an empty nest will help you rediscover yourself. You will find a new normal, and you can find new opportunities or activities to help you refocus.
How Parents Deal with an Empty Nest
1. Reconnect with Your Partner
It is important to reconnect with your spouse or partner after the children leave home. Try to remember how much you enjoyed each other’s time before having children. While you have both likely changed quite a bit since then, you will still be able to find ways to connect.
Use this time to bond with your partner and make more memories with only the two of you. Planning regular date nights will help, and you won’t even have to consider babysitters or dinner for the kids. You can focus all of your attention on your romantic and emotional relationships with your partner.
Plan special surprises for your partner and cook dinners together that your kids wouldn’t have eaten anyway. You can also explore new hobbies that the two of you might enjoy together, which will only increase your bond. Even if the first couple of attempted hobbies don’t work out, it’ll be fun to try and make memories together.
If your lifestyle allows for it, you and your partner can even spend this time traveling the world. Please make a list of all the places you have wanted to visit and start crossing them off one at a time. If you can make the most of the uninterrupted time with your partner, you’ll find that the benefits are immeasurable.
2. Reconnect with Yourself
As a parent, most of your thoughts and activities revolve around your children. You eventually give up on your hobbies. Not because you don’t enjoy them but because you don’t have time, space, or energy for them anymore.
Once your children have moved out, you will have all of that again. You’ll have space to dedicate to your hobbies and the time and energy to do them. Pick up your old hobbies, and it can help you begin to reconnect with yourself.
Reviving old hobbies isn’t the only way you can reconnect with yourself, however. You will be going through a huge change, and you have to put time and energy into thinking about yourself. Think about what you like, who you want to spend time with, and what you want the rest of your life to look like.
While these answers may take time to answer, you’ll eventually figure it out. You have to keep searching internally for the answers.
Since your time has been focused on others for so long, it will take time to focus on yourself. This is why it may take time to figure it out because it takes practice and deep inner-reflection.
3. Stay Busy and Find new Hobbies
It is important to stay busy and do things that make you happy. This might mean meeting up with friends regularly, exercising, or finding new hobbies. You can join clubs, sign up for a yoga or art class, or spend time learning a new skill.
These plans and activities will help fill the hole that is left when your children move out. If you don’t stay busy, the empty time slots will only be reminders of the things you previously spent your time on. The once dreaded sports events, homework help, and meals you had to cook will be missed immensely.
Since you won’t be so involved in your children’s lives, you have to fill your life with meaningful things. You could even volunteer at a place you love or for a cause that is dear to you. With all of these activities, you will meet new people and form meaningful relationships and connections.
4. Find a Support System
You can’t go through this time in your life alone. Go to your friends and family members about your emotions and fears. They will be able to give you advice, reassurance, and a comforting shoulder to lean on.
Make time regularly to spend time with these people. Work on making your relationship with your support system stronger now that you have more time and energy. It will be a comfort to you as you navigate this drastic life change.
5. Stay Positive
Remind yourself that this is what you worked for all these years. You worked to raise capable, strong, and successful children who are now ready to put your lessons to the test. This is the ultimate proof that you have succeeded in giving your children exactly what they needed to thrive.
When your thoughts become negative, think of all the positive parts of the situation. Replace the negative thoughts with thoughts of what you are grateful for.
You aren’t the same person you were before. You changed once you had children, and now you are changing again. While some of your identity will remain the same, much of it will have to be figured out.
Your role as a parent hasn’t ended, but one chapter of it has. Now, you have to identify who you are now that your children are grown up. Figure out what you want your new role to be, and you’ll feel much better about the situation.
7. Find New Ways to Challenge Yourself and Set New Goals
Push yourself to new limits after your children move out. You now have the time to dedicate to yourself, so see exactly what you are capable of. Set goals for yourself, starting with things you’ve always dreamed of doing.
You can start small with these challenges and goals. If you always wanted to write a book, set a goal to come up with an outline for a book. Then, make your goal something bigger, like writing a rough draft of the first chapter.
As you do this, you will see that you are more than just a parent. While that role is still important, you can find other things to fill your time and further your knowledge. Whatever your goals are, use this time to achieve things you didn’t have time for before.
8. Adjust to Giving Your Child Space
You have to give your child space, which means that you can’t call multiple times a day to check-in. Wait for them to call you sometimes, and avoid invading their privacy. You have to give them room to learn and grow, and it’ll be better for both of you if you do this.
Suppose it will make you feel better, set up a schedule for times that you are both available to catch up. Schedule phone calls so that you know you aren’t overstepping, and it will give you something to look forward to.
9. Plan Something Exciting
You can’t sulk around your house, dreading the silence and space. Instead, plan trips for yourself and your partner or a friend. Even if you don’t go far, you will enjoy the time spent planning, exploring, and relaxing in a new location.
10. Create a New Routine
If your weekends were once filled with events, tournaments, or other child-related activities, you have to develop a new routine. Fill your weekends with things you enjoy, such as sitting in a bookstore or spending time with friends. Once you develop this new routine, it’ll be easier to deal with your empty nest.
After so many years of caring for children, it can be hard for parents to deal with an empty nest. Luckily, it is easier than you may imagine, and you will truly begin to enjoy your new lifestyle. Begin by reconnecting with your spouse and yourself and then moving forward to filling your life with meaningful activities.
You now have the time and energy to spend on old hobbies or new activities. Plus, you will have the chance to do all the things you once dreamed of.
Remember that your children leaving home shows that they are independent and capable adults. This is what you worked so hard to teach them for all of these years. Embrace this new time in your life, and you will be able to cope with an empty nest.