Empty Nest Syndrome — Are any of you out there facing an empty nest in the near future? It’s so weird. You’ve spent countless years as Mom and Dad, and now, it’s just the two of you–like the beginning, only you’re older, wiser…and maybe a wee bit more crotchety?
Aline from facebook shared an article from the New York Times about life after raising children. The author talks about facing her new identity. For 30 years, her primary association with herself was as a mother…now, as she faces her last child transitioning into adulthood, she wonders what it means for her.
In the end, she puts a positive light on the whole subject, offering empty nest-ism as a chance to redefine yourself in a completely new light, unrestricted by dependents. I could totally identify with her sentiments, though. Having been a “mom” for so long, having to find new ways to occupy my time was hard!
In case you’re finding yourself in the same boat, here are a couple of tips to combat the downsides of empty nest syndrome:
Renew or make new friendships.
Plain and simple, this is a time to find deep, noncompetitive friendships that will sustain you through your quiet days. Plan a weekly meet-up for coffee–like your own personal playdate.
Dive into new hobbies or spend more time on old ones.
Travel has ALWAYS been important to me, and I plan on continuing to make it my focus.
Date your spouse.
Raising kids is nutso sometimes, and that person you agreed to go through life with sometimes doesn’t get the attention they deserve. Now you’re really in together, though, in a quiet house with the rearing complete. Get to know each other again. Go to the movies, go out to dinner, go for walks in the evening…whatever.
Let guilt go.
When the days are quiet and the stresses are gone, it’s easy to obsess about all of the things you could have done differently…or more of, but what’s done is done. Worrying about it simply won’t change it. Let it go, my friends, let it go.
Go back to school.
Maybe you never finished your degree, or you would like to make a career change and couldn’t because of the kids. Now you can. On the upside, you are already really good at buying school supplies and checking homework :).
Establish new traditions with your adult children.
They maybe gone and living life, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t still a piece of them. Host monthly Sunday dinners if they are close, visit them often, or plan a weekly phone call/email session.
Embrace the silence.
I bet you a million bucks that no less than once a week when the kids were home you wished for silence. Now you have it. Don’t feel bad. You’ve earned it. You’ve done your time. Incorporate R&R into the day.
Exercise is a pretty solid suggestion to whatever you’re facing as long as you are able. It releases those feel-good hormones.
Make new goals.
This is not the end. It’s the beginning–and with us all living waaay longer, we hopefully still all have several decades of quality living. Sit down with your spouse and decide what your goals together will be…retire in the Florida Keys, travel, buy a cabin?
Still a couple of years away from an empty nest? Plan now.
Make the most of the final years your kids are at home. Spend quality time. Send them off knowing them fully. Make plans for when they do leave–you’re not wishing them gone, you are preparing.
Any empty-nesters out there? I know you have tips…make sure to leave them in the comments.
Good luck, fellow empty-nesters.