“We all have a picture of what our lives may look like when our kids leave home.” – Empty Nest Full Pockets. We may conjure up different ways to cope - whether they be healthy or unhealthy for our mental or physical health.
According to an article by Lynn Byars MD, MPH, FACP “Empty Nest Syndrome is a term that is used to describe the distressing responses that some parents experience when their adult child leaves home permanently. Reactions might include: sadness, depression, irritability, anger, resentment, anxiety, guilt, loneliness, and even some physical symptoms.”*
That initial feeling of loss and disorientation set in for me personally, when my first son left for college. “Before his departure, I believed I would bein constant contact with him about classes, dorm issues, and his social comings and goings.” My apprehension came from the belief that this loss of contact would leave me feeling empty and alone. “However, the reality was more like my wife and I throwing our arms open and taking a deep breath.”
“We were all beginning to get a taste of independence and all of us generally loved it.”
The first Friday my son spent at college was strange for all of us - I was no longer able to meet him in the living room for his midnight curfew (that he was stealthily able to make at 11:59 without skipping a beat!). So, on this Friday at midnight - I went back to sleep.
“The myth that we will worry more, have to be continually engaged and over-parent because they can’t handle being without us does not have to be a reality.”
Using your newfound free time to develop goals for your future can be a great start to dealing with these feelings of anxiety.
Adopting a forward-looking mindset alleviates feelings of grief. It sparks motivation and promotes a healthy sense of perspective. Setting and achieving goals also encourages the development of your authentic identity.
Another great way to enjoy this time is picking up a new hobby. Whether it’s finally using the spare room as a long talked-about future art studio or a home gym to keep your fitness in check.
Joining new clubs or activities in your area can also be a great way to connect with similar people and develop a larger social network - which can be great for weekends with no kids!
Practicing self-care and focusing on the positives are essential to this new chapter for you and your partner.