From the moment you become a parent, your child becomes your main priority. The very second your first ever loud little poopy raisin is born, you’re responsible for making sure they are healthy, happy, and developing until they are 100% ready to take on the world on their own. And even then you’ll probably take care of them a few more years. Kids these days.
The vast majority of your adult life is spent caring for one or more of these incredible examples of the magic of nature. So when they leave, it can feel as though everything you knew has walked out the door. Who are you to care for now? What are you supposed to do with your time? How do you adjust to all of that quiet? Many parents not only miss their children, but practically grieve for their absence, fearing for a life where the person they have to care for more now is themselves.
Change Represents Opportunity
Yes, the feeling of having an empty nest is a powerful one. Change can be scary, and these type of life transitions do represent an almost incredible difference from the life you knew before to the life you know now. In many ways you’re starting your life over, just with many more years experience and memories under your belt.
But you’re also not. You’re still you. Your kids are still around. You simply have more freedom. The real fear, then, is figuring out how to fill that freedom in a way that makes life more fulfilling, and puts that same energy you used to care for your children into caring for yourself. If you are or have recently had to adjust to your children leaving the home, the following strategies can help you overcome it.
- Create Goals – When you have a child, your goal is often, essentially, “care for your child.” Now that your child has left, you should create new goals, and make sure that you come up with a list of a variety of different types of goals (short term, long term, easy and difficult) so that you have a lot to work for.
- Reconnect With Friends/Partner – When your child around, you have someone you are connected to that you love unconditionally and dedicate yourself to. Though that bond will always be there, you can now pour your love and energy into someone else. Reconnect with your friends, partner, and family, and you may find that that connection is what your heart was seeking.
- Keep a Busy Calendar – As you’re learning to adjust, just stay busy. Replace the emptiness in your home and your heart with a variety of activities that give you mental and emotional stimulation. Often doing nothing is the main cause of empty nest syndrome, since doing nothing allows the mind to wander, and for loneliness and emptiness to kick in. Stay busy, and you not only avoid those negative emotions – you also prove to yourself that there is so much to still do and achieve.
Parenting is often part of a person’s identity, and you are not necessarily going to be able to simply remake a new identity overnight. What you can do, however, is put that same love, energy, and attention you gave to your child(ren) and place it somewhere else, so that you’re not losing who you are – you are simply restructuring how and where you show it.
If you feel that you have been struggling with an empty nest and want to talk to a trained life coach that is ready to talk to you about it and coach you through it, you can reach me using the email contact form.