Plenty of parents are sending their kids off to college and suddenly the house is pretty quiet. While we want our children to spread their winds and make their way in the world, it can catch us off guard if we don’t prepare.
Empty Nest Syndrome refers to feelings of sadness, grief, and sometimes depression parents and caregivers experience after children come of age and leave their childhood homes. This can occur when children go to college or get married, with women more likely than men to be affected. Making the transition more challenging is that often, when the nest is emptying, mothers are going through other significant life events as well, such as menopause or caring for elderly parents. It can be a difficult time, and it's no disgrace if you need help of various kinds to get through it.
It’s normal for a mother or father to feel some sadness at this time. It’s normal to weep now and then. It’s normal to go into the absent child's bedroom and sit there for a bit in an attempt to feel closer to him or her. So don't be ashamed of your feelings, they are natural. If, on the other hand, you’re feeling that your useful life has ended, or if you are crying excessively, or if you're so sad that you don't want to mix with friends or go to work, then you should reach out and seek professional help
While you’re adjusting to the changes in the home, lean on your friends. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself to something. Time and energy that you directed toward your child can now be spent on different areas of your life. This might be an opportune time to explore or return to hobbies, leisure activities or career pursuits.
Unfortunately, for some, a child’s absence can expose flaws in the marital relationship. The good news is that with good communication and preparation for this phase of your marriage, the empty nest years can be tremendously enjoyable and full of new beginnings. Share your feelings and awarenesses with one another. Take advantage of the time the two of you have alone together to talk about the topics that could create problems in your marriage, topics that could be a challenge to deal with, and the topics that could bring you both happiness.
For those of you facing an empty nest soon, prepare for it while your children are still living with you. Develop friendships, hobbies, career, and educational opportunities. Make plans with the family while everyone is still under the same roof, so you don't regret lost opportunities. For example, plan family vacations, enjoy long talks, and take time off from work. Make plans for the extra money, time, and space that will become available when children are no longer dependent on you and living at home.
Your children may be out of the home, but they still need your support. However, they won’t want to feel smothered. So, depending on your child’s wants, ration your calls to on or two a week. Also, use some emails or text messages instead of phoning. Send “care” packages. And don’t take it personally if they don’t respond. They’re teenagers. They’re also busier than you right now.
And remember, you haven’t really lost a teenager; you've gained a bathroom and a clean home!