People want their children to grow up and lead independent lives, yet when children actually do leave home, some parents can feel lonely, sad, and experience symptoms of grief.
Empty nest syndrome is not a clinical disorder or diagnosis, it’s a transitional period in life characterised by loneliness, grief and loss. Parents want to encourage their children to grow into independent adults. However, the experience can be bittersweet or emotionally challenging.
Acknowledge how you feel
When your children are getting ready to leave home, it can be a stressful time. Lots of your time might be taken up helping them to get ready, so try to take time for yourself, to acknowledge how you’re are feeling.
If arguments are flaring up, or just if you think it could be helpful, talk to your child about how you feel. Try not to pass on any feelings of guilt – acknowledge that while you might be feeling sad or anxious, you recognise that it’s a positive step for them.
For many, coping with an empty nest is mitigated by remaining in contact with the child. A parent can keep in touch with their child via weekly text, email, or phone calls. In times of stress and loneliness, reaching out for social support can also be helpful.
Look after yourself
Be kind to yourself during this period of transition.
Diligent self-care, in the form of healthy eating, plenty of sleep and exercise is recommended.
Rediscover yourself and your relationships
Make plans for the weeks after they have moved out so that you keep busy and start making time to enable you to rediscover yourself and your relationships. Think about how you may spend that time – maybe meeting up with friends/ starting a new hobby / joining a night class or club.
It’s natural to feel a sense of loss and trying to distract yourself or suppress your feelings won’t necessarily fix things.
You need to grieve what you’ve lost. One phase of your life is over. Your children are no longer living at home and time has likely passed by faster than you ever imagined.
It’s okay to feel sad and coming to terms with this new phase in your life can be tough. But most parents find they’re able to adjust to their new roles as being parents of young adults and they develop a new sense of normal.
If loneliness, depression and sadness are in any way overwhelming, Counselling With Cheryl, based near Market Weighton, can help through this period of readjustment.