Many of us with older teenagers would agree that the time we spend going to school functions, sporting events, and extracurricular activities is substantial. It may feel like you never have enough time to do everything that needs to be done and enjoy fun things in life. Sure, it’s a big commitment, but those days will pass quickly, and you may start longing for the day your son or daughter was a teenager or younger.
As kids become responsible adults (we hope), the extracurricular activities and sporting events are replaced with work schedules, college classes, and new friends. This makes it possible for parents to have a little more free time. Whether your fantasy is to have a peaceful moment with a good book, go to a movie without a debate on what to see, or simply relax in silence, you may find yourself with the time to do all that and more. Maybe it’s time to plan that much needed vacation or a road trip to nowhere. Maybe you’ll start new hobbies that you never had time for before. Hopefully, you’ll be busy with new activities that you really enjoy doing.
However, some people actually struggle with having this extra time on their hands. The empty nest syndrome can be tough on people who may be at a loss or uninvolved. The Mayo Clinic has provided a few guidelines to work your way through this new phase in your life.
If you’re experiencing feelings of loss, be sure to review these tips to help you work through those emotions.
- Accept the timing. Avoid comparing your child’s timetable to your own experience or expectations. Instead, focus on what you can do to help your child succeed when he or she does leave home.
- Keep in touch. You can continue to be close to your children even when you live apart. Make an effort to maintain regular contact through visits, phone calls, emails, texts, or video chats.
- Seek support. If you’re having a difficult time dealing with an empty nest, lean on loved ones and other close contacts for support. Share your feelings. If you feel depressed, consult your doctor or a mental health provider.
- Stay positive. Thinking about the extra time and energy you might have to devote to your marriage or personal interests after your last child leaves home might help you adapt to this major life change.
Many people wonder if they can prevent empty nest syndrome. If your last child is about to leave home, plan ahead. Look for new opportunities in your personal and professional life. Keeping yourself busy or taking on new challenges can help you ease your sense of loss and help fill the void left by your child moving into adulthood.
For more information about empty nest syndrome, visit the Mayo Clinic website, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/empty-nest-syndrome/art-20047165?pg=1.
Source: Empty nest syndrome: Tips for coping, authored by Mayo Clinic Staff.