As a parent you’ll understand more than most the emotional bond between mother, father, and child. It’s a bond that runs deep, and while you may have spent the last few years praying for respite from the conflicts and dramas of raising teenage children, when the time comes for them to finally fly the coop, you may be surprised by the profound sense of loss you feel.
Empty nest syndrome affects many parents when they pack the kids off to college. It’s a natural and understandable response to the jarring, life changing shift from your role as ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ and back to just ‘you’. For many years you’ve identified yourself primarily as a parent. For years it’s been your main job and greatest responsibility, and suddenly it’s all over.
Getting used to your new post-parental life can be difficult, depressing and unnerving, and without the comfort of family at home the future can seem cold and bleak. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Your newfound freedom can give you the opportunity to transform your life for the better, and to rediscover who you really are. Here are 4 quick tips to help you learn how to deal with an empty nest and make the most of this once in a lifetime opportunity:
Stay In Touch
Just because your kids don’t need you to cook their dinners anymore doesn’t mean they don’t need you at all. During the first few weeks and months away from home they’ll need you more than ever to act as the emotional rock in their exciting, terrifying, ever-changing new lives.
It’s important to make sure they can reach you whenever they need to talk, and vice versa. Maybe you could provide your child with a cell phone and a little pre-paid credit to allow them to call home. Even better, fire up your computer and install a program such as Skype to make free voice and video calls with your kids. It’s important not to smother them as they’re learning to stand on their own, but they should know you’re just a phone call away.
Develop Your Friendships
The strains and obligations of parenting can leave precious little time for keeping up with friends. Now that you have lots of free time, you should make an effort to touch base with all those friends you haven’t seen for a while. Some of them may have gone through what you’re experiencing, and it can really help to lean on them for support as you come to terms with the new situation.
Make a To-Do List
How many times over the years have you thought ‘I’ll do it once the kids are out of the house’? Well, now’s the time! Go skydiving. Take a trip to Europe. Heck, you could even go back to school. You’re starting with a blank slate, and you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to make up for lost time.
Now’s the time to work on your relationship with your significant other. For years you’ve been focused on what’s best for the kids, so here is the time to start concentrating on each other again. You should take this opportunity to enjoy a renaissance in your marriage. Go out for romantic dinners, enjoy movies together, and take up a hobby you can share.
Dealing with empty nest syndrome can be difficult, but you should try to look on the bright side. Everything comes to an end, but for every end there is a beginning. Your whole life is ahead of you. What do you want to do with it?
Have you recently experienced the Empty Nest Syndrome and have tips of your own to share? Please do so in the space below!
About the Author:
Sani Golriz is a community blogger and active staff writer for CollegeFocus, a website dedicated to helping students deal with the challenges of college, including housing, finance, style, health, relationships, and transferring from a community college to a four-year university.
You can follow CollegeFocus on Twitter at @CollegeFocus101 and Facebook at www.fb.com/collegefocus.
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