If you’ve ever had kids that have grown big enough to move out and live on their own or start their own families, you might have felt a profound sense of sadness and loss when they did.
This is called empty nest syndrome, and it’s more common than you might think. Both parents are susceptible to feeling this way, but mothers are more likely to experience it.
Find out what you can do to cope with empty nest syndrome and learn that there’s actually quite a lot to look forward to.
A New Chapter in Your Life
It can be easy to get caught up in the idea that such an important part of your life has ended. After all, you probably spent 18 years or more raising your child, watching them grow, helping them through hardships, guiding them through puberty, and preparing them for adulthood. It was difficult, but it was also fulfilling.
You have to keep in mind that this is also the beginning of a new part of your life. There’s no need to rush into it though. Give yourself time to cope and allocate a portion of your days to relaxation and self-care. Then you can figure out what you want to do with all the time and energy you suddenly have.
Find New Goals
When your children move out, it might seem like there’s not as much fulfillment to find in the things you do. Parents that base their self-worth on their role as a parent are more likely to experience empty nest syndrome once their parental role is gone or has changed when compared to those with a strong sense of self-worth. Perhaps it is just a natural result of raising one’s children for so long.
You might find that you have a lot of time and energy on your hands and seemingly nowhere for it to go as you’re no longer doing tasks related to your children. But this is actually a chance to rediscover and re-establish your sense of self-worth by directing your energy towards other activities.
You can rekindle a hobby or find a new one to take up, learn art, practice an instrument, travel, or volunteer for a cause you believe in. You could even try going back to school or taking online classes. Learning new things is useful regardless of your age, and finding worthwhile activities is a healthy way of solidifying your sense of self-worth.
Get Into an Exercise Routine
Exercise is an essential activity to keeping healthy. This is important because empty nest syndrome can be compounded by other problems and life transitions that generally develop as people age like retirement, menopause, and diseases associated with aging. You can prevent the last one with enough exercise.
Exercise helps reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases and those associated with aging. Adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of physical activity each week. Try spending 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, on exercise. You can make regular exercise and maintaining your health into old age one of your new goals.
One of the best things about your children moving out is all the time you suddenly have. While it’s harmful to your mental health to not have anything to use that time on, it’s your chance to catch up and spend time with friends and family. If you’re married, discuss with your spouse what you can do and projects you can work towards together.
If your children moving out leaves you feeling severely depressed, don’t hesitate to call a professional counselor and seek help. You might also want to hire a financial advisor to help you with planning for retirement, saving up for senior care services, and gathering funds for your child’s college tuition.
Get Rid of Clutter
When your children move out and leave some things behind, it can be tempting to keep their room as is to remember them by. However, you have to be selective and keep only a few things. Sell the rest or donate them to charity. But don’t keep items only for them to gather dust and remind you of the chapter of your life that has passed.
You can use the space for the activities mentioned in the previous sections. You could also use the extra space to hold events and invite people over or turn it into a small home gym.
If you don’t have any use for them, then maybe it’s time to move to a smaller home. It can be disheartening to leave the place you raised your kids in. However, it can be even more disheartening to have empty rooms and a house too big for just you and your spouse, if you have one.
Moving to a smaller place is better for you in the long run. It also saves you money and is easier to maintain.
As long as you keep looking ahead, you will find that you still have quite a lot of things to look forward to, even after your children leave. If you don’t have any goals, then you can make some. Keep yourself busy doing things that fulfill you, and you will not only stave off empty nest syndrome but improve your life entirely.