Parenting is one of the most challenging, and one of the most rewarding experiences in your life. So what do you do when you suddenly realize that you can’t continue doing it anymore? Often labelled as the Empty Nest Syndrome, the feeling of loss and loneliness as your last child leaves your home to chart out their own course in life is a debilitating one. After decades of looking after you children and waking up to a noisy house full of activity, you’re suddenly left wandering the hallway alone with nothing but the silence to keep you company.
For some parents, the thought of this day finally arriving is a very worrisome thought. Of course, they want their children to be independent and successful in life, but how do you get accustomed to the loneliness and sudden availability of all this extra time? Parents usually become so invested in the lives of their children that being left without any to take care of is a very confusing period of their lives. So, let us discuss what steps you can take to prepare yourself for the day your nest is finally empty.
Coming to Terms with it and Being Proud
The first and foremost step you will have to take is also the last step of the five stages of grief; acceptance. If you have children that are now adults and are about to move out, you have very likely lived and long fulfilling life and are very familiar of the concept of having to accept things you cannot change. Your children moving out is one of those things.
It is natural to worry how your children will fare without you watching their backs round the clock. After all, you have spent so long worrying about and taking care of their needs every single day, that it will be quite a shock to suddenly realize that responsibility has been lifted from your shoulders. The best thing you can focus on to make this transition easier is how proud you are of your children. Your little babies are now men and women who are taking charge of their own destinies, and will probably have children of their own to look after very soon. And don’t just be proud of your children; be proud of yourself too. You have done an excellent job and you deserve this break.
Getting Back in to Dating
Once you no longer have children to look after, you should consider spending some time on yourself again. If you have a partner, perfect; start going out on dates again and treat yourselves. Start spending money on yourselves like you used to do all those years ago. And if you’re single, hey, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Why not give it a go? Perhaps you’ll find another special someone, maybe even someone you could spend the rest of your life with while your children go out and do their own thing.
Picking Up a Hobby
Now that you’re suddenly free all day long, you should consider picking up a hobby. Something you always had your eye on, or perhaps something you used to invest time in to and enjoy back before you had children. You could do anything you want now; start working on finishing that huge backlog of books, begin to learn a musical instrument, start attending classes to learn a new language, or just get in to collecting model recreations of something you’re fascinated by. The possibilities are limitless and only defined by the extent of your imagination and creativity.
Make New Friends
It’s never too late to make new friends. Why not look for other people who have just had their nests emptied, or people your age that are interested in the same things as you. You could join a club or a group centered around a hobby of yours. This would lead to many fun-filled afternoons and evenings as you all bond over your common love of something.
If not that, you could always just start hitting up the local parks and bars. Maybe you’ll find someone you click with, and then you two could start a brand-new friendship and spend your days laughing together over shared interests. There are so many kinds of people out there, you never really know who you might end up being friends with.
Going to Therapy Sessions
If you absolutely feel that the moving out of your children is too emotionally taxing and that you are failing to come to terms with it and finding inner peace, therapy might be just the coping mechanism you need. Look for good therapists in your area. Schedule a session with them and see if you and them click. Many therapists are experienced with handling parents who have had their children move out, and you will hopefully find someone you feel comfortable talking with and sharing your anxieties with.
Therapy will help you slowly come to terms with your children being independent, and will also help you see how proud you should be of your children and yourself. Sometimes, all a person needs is someone to talk to, and therapists are trained to handle that need. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a therapist and see if that works out for you.
Take Up Meditation
If you don’t feel like visiting a therapist, but would still like some way to learn to cope with your children having left, meditation might be just the thing you’re looking for. It might take some time to learn how to meditate properly. Start small with helpful and calming video guides online that will guide you through simple steps for meditation. Soon, you will find yourself at much greater peace, and will be able to focus on your own future.
Get Yourself a Pet
If the feeling of loneliness and the need to provide for someone is too overwhelming for you, consider adopting a pet. Not only do you significantly improve the life of an animal, you also solve the problem of an empty house and no one to provide for. Pets are amazing, and for someone like a parent that has recently had their nest emptied, just the perfect thing. You will once again have someone to wake up for, someone to play with and spend time with, and someone to provide care and food for.
Look Back at a Job Well Done
Sometimes, the best way to come to terms with a new development in life is to look back at the circumstances and scenarios that ultimately led up to this point. In the case of a newly emptied nest, you should reminisce about the days when your children were young, or when you slowly watched them make mistakes and learn and grow up, ultimately thinking about how successful you have been in everything to be at this point in life today. You will cry, you will ache, but ultimately you will be proud, satisfied, and at peace.
It is difficult saying goodbye to your children after having lived with them under the same roof for so long, but eventually you will come to terms with it one way or another and begin to look forward to family events and gatherings in the future while also being able to spend some quality time on yourself. If you’re looking for a fun and effective way to encapsulate the best moments of your child’s life, take a look at our post about making a slideshow of images and videos you have taken. If you just want to reminisce about the good old days, check out our post on songs about parents and children that you can listen to while doing so.