Many parents find it difficult to deal with empty nest syndrome, but keep this to themselves because they’re embarrassed to admit that they’re even suffering from it. However, feeling like this is a natural part of life for any parent, but in some cases it can become a real psychological issue. Whichever it is for you, there’s absolutely no reason to be ashamed of it. But how do you actually deal with empty nest syndrome?
1. Don’t Put Yourself down
If you beat yourself up about how you’re feeling, there’s no chance of you beginning to feel better. You can’t really deal with empty nest syndrome until you’ve accepted your feelings and that it’s completely normal to feel that way. Every parent goes through this at some point, and it’s not surprising, because your baby has been with you all those years, then suddenly they’re gone…
2. Let It Run Its Course
Just as important as accepting your feelings is accepting they’re going to be around for a while. Don’t try and accelerate your recovery period; just let the grieving process (because it is a kind of grieving process) happen naturally.
3. Stay Connected
Just because your kids aren’t living at home anymore doesn’t mean you never have to speak to them. You can text, call, email, or use social networks, while Skype and Facetime give you the option to video chat. Don’t overdo it though. You can’t deal with empty nest syndrome if you’re living in denial and talking to your kids for hours each day, and you’ll probably just annoy them too.
4. Keep Busy
Dealing with empty nest syndrome will be harder if you’re constantly thinking about how much you miss your child. Get active, work hard, and if you can, do some volunteering. Helping someone else will satisfy your need to care and protect, and you’ll come away with a happy buzz that can leave you feeling good for days.
5. Treat Yourself
Don’t overdo the whole keep busy thing, because while it will help, you also need some down time. Try and do some nice things for yourself, and don’t just make them a one-off: schedule a regular appointment for yourself to do something that you enjoy. Something relaxing like yoga or a massage could be good at such a difficult time, but so could some more vigorous exercise that allows you to let out your frustration.
6. Ask for Help
This comes back to not being ashamed again. As long as you’ve accepted your feelings, you should be able to talk to other people about them. You probably have friends, colleagues and family members that have been through exactly the same thing. And, if your child has just gone off to college, other parents around you will be going through this at the same time. You can manage empty nest syndrome together, and it will help you all. And don’t forget, your husband/partner will be experiencing this too, so lean on each other.
7. Redefine the Departure
How you think about your child leaving will really affect the level of impact it has on you. If you can view it as a new beginning, for them and you, as opposed to a loss, it will be easier to cope with. Think of the free time you’ll have to pursue your own interests, for a start!
Take in these tips, and you’ll be able to cope with empty nest syndrome in no time at all. And before you know it, your son or daughter will be home for the holidays, then they’ll be graduating, then you’ll be at their wedding, and holding your grandchild. The point is, you’ll adjust in your own time, and life will go on. Do you have any helpful tips to share?