You have dreamed of the empty nest for years.
Remember those tumultuous years, when the kids were teens and their frontal lobes bobbed along aimlessly, in a sea of pimples and mood swells? An empty nest was the thing of dreams and distant fairy tales.
So, here we are. The kids actually turned out alright, they have stepped out into the world of adulthood and all of a sudden, they know it all! Congratulations on the job well done! We all survived.
But now what? What happens now that you have all the time in the world? It’s not as dreamy as you once thought is it? In fact, it can be lonely and in many ways, feel like your identity left with the last kid leaving the driveway.
The empty nest comes with major life adjustments when you no longer have to divide your attention among the children. For some, it is the greatest moment they always thought it would be, but that isn’t the case for everyone. So, how do you survive the empty nest?
First of all, instead of focusing on the negative changes and sadness that can come with life changes such as this, consider the joy and satisfaction that comes with watching your kids grow and flourish and find their own way in life. They couldn’t do that without you! With a little time and patience in the process of change, you will find that your nest isn’t empty at all.
Here are some ideas for how to survive and even thrive!
- Anticipate their departure. Give them confidence that you will be okay when they are gone and remember that technology today, still keeps them in your back pocket.
- Consider ways you can reignite your relationship with your spouse or how to reconnect with old and new friends, if you are single. Single parents often face a whole other set of challenges in the empty next.
- Talk to other empty nesters and find out what they did during this period of transition.
- Don’t make any big life changes during this time.
- Create new routines, especially on the weekend when there tends to be more down time.
- Remember all those things you thought you would do when the kids grew up? Make a list of all those things. Choose some new skills to learn, classes to take, go back to school, start a small business, find a hobby, volunteer in the community…the list of things you can do is endless.
- Practice putting yourself first. This can be a very hard thing to do for some women as we tend to be givers, not takers, so start out slow if needed, even an hour a day.
- Consider a little more play time and spontaneous activities, it can be very liberating.
- It’s finally time to take care of you. All those years of putting everyone else in the family above your own needs is over. Get caught up on your own health. Start walking, consider a gym membership, clean up your diet.
- Spend a little time being with yourself. Get to know this amazing woman you have become through all the years of raising children.
If you find yourself stuck in sorrow, grief, overwhelming sadness and lingering emptiness, it would be a good idea to visit your healthcare provider. Major life changes can be hard, but not paralyzing. There is help so don’t suffer in silence.