In the blink of an eye, your once small children will become young adults. Surprisingly, some of you will experience empty nest syndrome.
For some of us, we’ve built most of our lives around being parents. This is true for both fathers and mothers. But when our children get ready to leave home, start their own lives, and stop depending on us for everything, it can be shocking.
It can be incredibly difficult going through empty nest syndrome, but we can come out the other side as even better people.
How to deal with empty nest syndrome?
When our children are small, we put little thought into their future independence. Don’t get me wrong, we save for their college and other investments, but the reality of this future just doesn’t seem to hit home.
It feels like they’re going to be around forever, laughing, arguing, and sharing loving moments with us. But one day, they will be adults, and when they leave, it’s good to be prepared. We can do this, and here is what we can do.
1. Reconnect with you
Before you became a parent, you had hobbies. Maybe you enjoyed painting, writing, socializing, or something of that nature. But all the “kid” activities took first place in your life. Your vital responsibilities to your children were to help them succeed, be at their games, and enjoy kid-friendly events.
You put your own passions on the back burner. Now that you’re facing the empty nest, you should get back in touch with what you enjoyed before you had children. This will help you focus on positive emotions.
2. Reconnect with old friends
While it’s good to stay in contact with friends even when you do have children at home, sometimes life’s responsibilities affect this freedom. So, when your children have gone away to college, moved out on their own, or gotten married, you should most definitely contact old friends again.
Maybe your friends are going through similar difficulties and you can relate. If not, maybe they can help you learn to socialize all over again.
3. Stay in touch (but not too much)
Even though your child may have moved into their own place, you can keep in touch. Considering we have smartphones and social media, it’s much easier to talk with our children every now and then.
However, do not constantly keep tabs on your child. This is smothering and can cause a relationship strain. Yes, your child is an adult, and you just can’t call them all the time and demand to know what they are doing.
So, finding a balance in your communication is key to dealing with the empty nest syndrome. If you feel the urge to call or text all the time, resist.
4. Find challenges
Don’t just reconnect with yourself but find a challenging endeavor. Maybe you’ve been too busy being a mother or father to engage in any challenging activity. Or it could be that you are afraid of being a harmful influence.
But now, you can set out to do anything you want. If it seems a bit difficult, then maybe you should try it. You know your limits, and if you’ve forgotten, your mistakes will remind you.
Challenge yourself and work toward higher goals. Before you know it, the empty nest will be full of possibilities.
5. Take on new roles
So, you are a father, but what else can you be? After the children have gone their own way, you can take on new roles in life. You can become a volunteer, a mentor, or even a student. Yes, you can return to school to pursue a whole other role with education.
For instance, maybe you’ve always wanted to get your degree in the medical field, but for years, you’ve focused on your children’s needs. Well, when the nest is empty, you can pursue those roles you couldn’t before.
6. Revive the romance
If you’re married and intimacy hasn’t been a priority, now’s the time to rekindle that romance. When your children were small, many times you’ve had to put intimacy on the backburner. Now that they’ve grown up and moved away, you have no excuse.
Start going on dates again with your partner or finally be able to sit down and have a nice romantic dinner without interruption. When you both have the house to yourselves, it’s time to strengthen your love.
7. Get active
When your first priority was your children, fitness was not as important. Now that you have more than enough time for physical activity, you should make fitness a mandatory everyday practice.
Also, you can focus on improving your nutrition as well. Your health is more important than ever at this time. So, if you focus on your fitness and nutrition regime, you can learn how to better deal with the empty nest and stay healthy as well.
8. Take a vacation
After the children leave home, you may find yourself uncomfortable there without them. While you cannot stay away from your home forever, you can take a holiday.
Going on vacation with your partner or friends can give you a break from the intense emotions. So, when you return, you can possibly see your home in a new way.
9. Get support if you need it
Sometimes it’s almost unbearable when children leave. This is especially true if you suffer from things like anxiety. If you find that the changes are just too much to handle, it’s okay to seek support. Talk to a counselor, therapist, or trusted friend.
Ask if they can check in on you from time to time. This can prevent you from feeling alone. This is also something that may help single parents, as there is no partner to support them.
However, make sure you can trust your support system to provide positive feedback.
10. Try to stay positive
Even though it may be hard, keeping a positive mindset can help you look forward instead of back. So, instead of grieving the past, you can look forward to visits from your children.
No, having a positive mindset is not a quick fix, but it does work overtime. It takes repetition and reassurance to maintain good and healthy thoughts, but you can do it.
It happens to all of us
As I speak, my middle child is cooking his own food. He’s been doing this for about a year now, and he’s preparing to enter college this fall. My oldest son is in Colorado now, with a great job and a bright future. My youngest son is still home, and he’s playing video games right now.
I have lived through one moving away. I am in preparation for the next one to leave in the autumn, and I have one graduating next year. I’ve been through it, and I will go through it again.
However, I am yet to experience a completely empty nest. So, I will come back here and revisit these tips for myself. I believe we can get through this together, and if someone has already experienced an empty nest, feel free to offer more advice for us too!
Be blessed as always.
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