Yes, it really is called empty nest syndrome. According to Psychology Today, Empty nest syndrome is a feeling of loneliness or sadness that occurs among parents after their children grow up and leave home.
An important topic to address as it’s around this time of year I get to talk to a lot of women who have mixed feelings about waving goodbye to the children they have loved and nurtured all these years. So many women tell me how they have feelings of depression, sadness, even grief when their last child leaves home.
One of my clients told me how she cried for days after her youngest child had left for college. It seemed that every time she turned the corner something would trigger her and those thoughts and emotions would stir inside and off she would go into an uncontrollable crying frenzy. If she dared to look in the mirror at herself she saw puffy eyes and swollen face, and was beginning to feel emotionally drained. She felt as though one minute she was a parent and the next minute she was back to an empty house.
However, there was some laugher as we chatted together. She remembered how she shed tears from the time her first child went off to preschool. Then graduations, award ceremonies and school performances. How she had sat through kid’s movies and tears rolled down her cheeks trying to hide her sniffles as her children rolled their eyes and laughed. Not forgetting the broken ankle, her son’s concussion, even down to watching her oldest daughter drive off on her own after just passing her test. The list was long as she thought about all of the tears of years gone by. But somehow nothing felt as empty and sad as this moment. She was not prepared for all of the thoughts that took over her mind and the feelings that filled her body, she felt like she was bursting with grief and sadness.
I reminded her of what a good job she had done thus far and how all three of her children had gone off out into the world on their way to becoming happy and healthy adults. How they were just starting their adult lives with so much ahead of them to look forward to.
Change may bring a range of emotions, and that’s okay because some changes will be fun and enjoyable, while others may be sad. Being aware of the differences, and how they make you feel is an important step. So, allow yourself to feel and acknowledge all of those emotions, let them come and let them go.
I suggested that she take some time to nurture and care of herself, be kind and loving, and if possible get some pampering. Take a nice relaxing bath with essential oils, get a Pedi Mani or pay a visit to the hairdresser, how about a nice facial or massage? Remember to exercise, move your body, drink plenty of water and eat healthy. After a while the feelings will subside and you will adjust to and accept the new normal way of living.
Remember, just because you are a parent of grown up kids doesn’t mean your past it and can’t have fun anymore. So, why not look at the empty nest years at getting to know your spouse again or join the dating scene. These years can be tremendously enjoyable and full of new beginnings, it doesn’t have to be an end.
A few things to point out:
- The house will stay neat and tidy after you’ve cleaned up.
- Less laundry.
- You can make love whenever the mood moves you and you can walk around naked.
- Lower grocery bills.
- It’s quiet and no one is hogging the TV.
Why not take advantage of your time that you and your spouse now have together? Find fun things to do, what did you love before kids? Communicate and plan your future together, be open to change make a list of things you’d love to do. How about making some short-term plans and long-term plans on how you want to spend your money?
For single parents, eventually being an empty nester can become a positive experience. There are many support groups, speak with a coach a counselor or a therapist. Connect with supportive friends, family, or other empty nesters. There are meet up groups that allow people to connect based on similar interests, and they can be started by anyone.
Transition can be difficult and emotionally draining, but now it is time to put your needs first and explore. This is a new chapter of your life, parenting never ends and the bond between you and your child will probably grow stronger as they mature and you can look forward to having a more emotionally meaningful relationship together.
How are you coping with your empty nest? What are you doing for yourself? If there is something you’d like to chat about, I’d love to know.
“The miracle of children is that we just don’t know how they will change or who they will become” ~ Eileen Kennedy- Moore.
Diane Morgan works with women who are overwhelmed and torn by the aging process and have a hard time finding themselves and their place in life during and beyond midlife. She is the creator of a powerful transformational program Awaken Your Beauty Inside Out: Fall In Love With The Skin You’re In. This phenomenal program capitalizes on her 20 plus years of experience in the beauty industry and her expertise as a certified Master Empowerment Coach for women.