When your children have been such a big part of your life for so long, it can be very upsetting when they all finally leave home.
Empty nest syndrome is a very real phenomenon. The Better Health Channel refers to it as “the grief that many parents feel when their children move out of home”. It can cause sadness, stress and even depression; and it leaves you with a sense of emptiness that can be hard to fill.
The first thing to do when your kids leave home is to acknowledge that these feelings are completely normal. Of course you will miss your children! And, yes, you will suddenly find yourself thinking, “I’m no longer needed.”
Dealing with all these feelings takes time, and what works for one parent may not work for another. But the good news is that there are many strategies available to help you focus on the positives. And remember, your children will always need you – even if it’s just to pop back home for a sandwich and to do a load of washing.
When you’re busy cooking, cleaning and caring for your children, there isn’t much time left in the day just for you. Think of all the times that you have secretly thought to yourself, “I wish I had more time to myself” when you were on the floor doing puzzles with your young children. Well, now is your time to shine! There must be something out there that you have always wanted to do – join an art class, exercise more, go back to further study. Embrace the fact that you now have that little bit more me time in your life.
With the kids out of the picture, you’re no longer limited to the school or uni calendar – you can book your holidays whenever and wherever you please! As a reward for the countless hours that you have put in for your kids, why don’t you treat yourself to a holiday you’ve always dreamed of?
With your grown children no longer sprawled on the couch in front of the TV each night, you’ve got new grounds for rekindling the relationship with your partner. Treat yourselves to candlelit dinners. Games of Scrabble. Or unfettered Netflix marathons where you guys get to call the shots … not the kids.
Just because you’re not eyeballing them every day, it doesn’t mean you can’t communicate with your kids. Now, with everything from text messaging to social media keeping you connected, there are plenty of ways to remain an active part of your children’s lives. You’ll feel all the better for knowing what they’re up to, and they’ll appreciate a sympathetic ear while they learn how to navigate the big wide world without you.