Easing into an Empty Nest
There were probably times that you dreamed of this day – sending your last child off to college or into the world so that you could enjoy a quiet house for a change. But now that the moment is near, it’s completely normal that you might be experiencing feelings of sadness, remorse or loneliness. Empty nest is called a syndrome for a reason – it can be a real challenge for individuals and couples alike – whether you were looking forward to this time or dreading it.
The following tips can help you make the most of this sometimes uncertain time in your life:
—Focus on the positive. Of course, it’s ok to be sad and to miss your kids, but try to focus on the positive – the fun you’ve had as a family and the fun yet to come. Recent studies have indicated that an empty nest can be beneficial for parents by reducing conflicts, giving couples a chance to reconnect with each other or individuals a chance to reconnect with themselves, and providing more opportunities for other interests that may have fallen by the wayside over the years.
—Stay in touch. Consider letting your kids take the lead in terms of communication (resisting the urge to call every day or text every hour); you can also establish a set time each week for catching up with each other. Likewise, stay in touch with friends who are going through the same experience (and others who have happily come out the other end). If you find you are really struggling with empty nest syndrome, talk to a counselor or therapist about your feelings.
—Seek balance. It might be tempting to try 10 new things all at once in hopes or staying busy, but try not to overwhelm yourself with too much – or too little – activity. Make plans but allow yourself some downtime or alone time as well. Be active since moving the body is beneficial on every level. And focus on the things, people and experiences that fill you up rather than deplete you.
—Make a difference. Now that you have some extra time on your hands, consider how you can contribute to your community. It can be as simply as volunteering a couple hours of month, bringing soup to a new mom in your neighborhood or getting more involved in an organization you are already a member of. HandsOn Twin Cities offers volunteer opportunities based on your location, availability and interests: http://www.handsontwincities.org/