How to Get Past Empty Nest Syndrome
Empty Nest Syndrome: Strategies for Dealing with Emotions After Your Teenagers Move Away
Coping with empty nest syndrome is a challenge for many of us when our children become adults.
They grow, we nurture them, and watch them fly off.
Suddenly our nests are empty, our children are gone - off to make their fortunes in the world.
What ever will we do with ourselves?
How will we cope?
When the family home empties parents often start feeling very lonely. Their purpose for living - taking care of the children - has vanished. That's when Empty Nest Syndrome sets in.
This page focuses on coping with Empty Nest Syndrome and finding new solutions for our lives.
This page is dedicated with love to all parents who are missing their children.
It is a huge transition, to go from a house full of lively teenagers (or even just one) to an empty house. Suddenly there's no one to take care of but yourself. This can be very difficult for a lot of us, but there are things we can do to make the change less painful. It is time for self-care, and learning to relate to our children as adults. It gets easier with time.
Mothers Talk About Empty Nest Syndrome
Love Your Feelings
...whatever they are.
Whatever your feelings are, accept them. Realize that this is your way of adjusting to the loss of children in the home, and love yourself regardless. We all have our reasons for our individualized emotions. Whether you're happy, sad, grieving, or overjoyed and relieved to see them off after all these years, your feelings are perfect just as they are.
Your feelings about empty nest syndrome - How are you feeling now?
What is your reaction to having your children leave home?
A Story of Motherhood and Change
Finding New Hobbies
...in case you haven't latched on to anything yet.
I decided that once my children left home I'd get into painting again. It was something I put away many years ago, along with my beloved guitar, because it was something I felt I couldn't do and take care of my kids at the same time.
Do you have any deferred interests like that, or are you floundering? If you don't know what to do with all your new-found spare time, get cozy with a cup of tea or coffee, and a notebook with your favorite kind of pen, and write a list of all the things you've ever wished you could do. Then pick two or three feasible things, and get busy!
Working or Volunteering
Many empty nesters stay busy with work. If you don't work and don't need the money, you might find that volunteering will fulfill your needs to get out of the house, interact with others, and feel useful. For more information see Volunteer Match.
Some people just have to have pets. It isn't for everyone, but if you're sure you'll love them and not feel tied down by them, this might be the time to get a new companion.
As for me, I've still got the pets left by my children.
The photo is of me and Bear, one of the dogs my youngest daughter left behind.
Journal Your Blues
If you're feeling sad because your children are moving out, get into the habit of writing about what you're going through. I've read this book and found it very helpful in expanding my methods of journaling.
Journaling is a healing, life-affirming way to cope with problems.
As you write you'll understand yourself better and come to terms with your reasons for feeling blue.
Things you can do for yourself and for your adult children.
Keeping In Touch
Yes, the kids left, but they still need you. Find ways to communicate. Some prefer phone calls, some like emails. I like a combination of both with a few handwritten letters tossed in.
The Care Package
Some parents send them once a month. Others seldom do. I think the kids always like them - at least, they'll appreciate the thought. One man in his thirties told me his parents still sent him care packages constantly. He said, "My mother always puts in a bottle of Tylenol. I hardly ever use them." I imagined his medicine cabinet overflowing with Tylenol. He didn't look too upset.
Claim Your Space
...you can use those rooms for something else, you know...
Have you decided what you want to do with your extra bedrooms yet? In my house, one of them is an office with my computer, bookcases, and a table to play games or write at. My other empty bedroom became a storage space.
What are you planning to do?
Carin Rubenstein on the Today Show
Carin at an Empty Nest Seminar
Yes, You CAN Be Happy Again!
It may take some working through. If you feel totally useless, cannot stop crying a lot, and are isolating yourself from friends, family, and work, then no doubt you may need professional counseling.
As for the rest of you, find something to do, enjoy your spare time, and stay busy. You can't control your children's lives when they're living elsewhere and it is a useless waste of energy to try. So find something that makes you happy, and be glad for it.
For months I looked forward to the time when my youngest would leave home. I'd been parenting continuously for thirty-four years and thought this should be a time when I'd finally have the opportunity to do things for myself instead of always doing and being for the kids.
For a while I didn't have much of a reaction when my youngest son finally left at the age of eighteen. I got on with my life, cleaned his room and tried to help him cope with our separation. I think it was harder for him because he was my fifth child to leave, and I was used to it by then.
Months later I realized I was experiencing symptoms of Empty Nest Syndrome. I looked at his room door and longed for his presence. I didn't feel lonely, but I did feel a lot of sadness.
My job of mothering minors is over and I can't bring it back. Just like the rest of you who are missing your kids, I will have to move forward and learn new ways of relating to them as adults.
Empty Nest Syndrome Links
- Empty nest syndrome - Wikipedia
Empty nest syndrome is a general feeling of loneliness that parents/other guardian relatives may feel when one or more of their children leave home.
- Empty Nest Syndrome | Psychology Today
Empty nest syndrome is a feeling of loneliness or sadness that occurs among parents after children grow up and leave home.
- Empty-nest syndrome
Expert advice on this psychological condition that can affect a woman when one or more of her children leaves home.
- Empty Nest Syndrome - My Personal Empty Nest Story
Are you suffering from Empty Nest Syndrome? This is the personal story of one woman learning to live without her adult children.
- DrCarin.com - Beyond the Mommy Years
Dr. Carin Rubenstein's website. She's the lovely woman in the videos, and author of Beyond the Mommy Years.