Empty nest syndrome refers to feelings of depression, sadness, and, or grief experienced by parents and caregivers after children come of age and leave their childhood homes. Here are a few tips to deal with the emptiness.
When children leave the home, mothers are going through other significant life events as well, such as menopause or caring for elderly parents. Men can also experience similar feelings of loss regarding the departure of their children. This may occur when children go to college or get married. Women are more likely than men to be affected. Empty nest syndrome describes a transition period in which many people experience feelings of loneliness or loss. While many parents encourage their children to become independent adults, the experience of sending children off into the world can be a painful one.
Be prepared: Do not delude yourself into thinking that the fruit of your womb will choose to stay with you forever. Enjoy the time you spend with them keeping in mind that they are not yours forever. Many suggest preparing for an empty nest while your children are still living with you. Develop friendships, hobbies, career, and educational opportunities. Make plans with the family while everyone is still under the same roof, such as family vacations, long talks, and taking time off from work to make special memories. Also, make specific plans for the extra money, time, and space that will become available when children are no longer dependent on you and living at home. Plan for this phase of your life early on so you will be well prepared and ready for it. Being forewarned is truly being forearmed.
Do not be emotionally over dependant: sometimes parents and mothers, in particular, make their children feel guilty about having left the parental home. It is quite common for mothers to tell their children how lonely and depressed they are to be living alone. Understand that your role as a mother is to raise healthy, independent and confident children who are fully capable of facing the world and succeeding. It is no motherly virtue to hold onto your children emotionally and make them have second thoughts about their choices. They need your support, not your emotional blackmail. It is indeed a very bad idea to play the victim card and suffocate them with your possessiveness. Make them feel that they may not have everything in life but surely have a mother who loves them and supports their decisions.
Indulge in yourself: Take up a new hobby or interest. Or revive an old one that you allowed to lapse while raising children. Anything from painting, photography, calligraphy, coding to skydiving and travel! Go back to school or university. Select a course that you feel resonates with you at this point in life. Work out whether this is a completely new path you’re setting out on, or whether it’s to upgrade your existing qualifications. Either way is good. Restart a career – either pick up where you left off or start a new one. Realise that even though you’re “rusty”, you have the advantage of experience, so after some initial relearning, you’ll be off to a much faster start than when you were fresh out of school or college.
Be socially involved: Consider volunteering at an institute of your choice. If you’re not quite ready to go back to work just yet, volunteering in potential workplaces can be a good way to transition back into the workforce at a pace that suits you. It also gives you the chance to try things to see if you like them or not. Try participating in charities and other socially relevant work. Spending time at an orphanage or a child care centre might fill up the void in your life. Doing something positive with your free time can be very fulfilling and gives you a new sense of purpose and that will do you a world of good.
Learn to see the positives in the new situation: Focusing on some of the positive changes resulting from your children moving out can ease the sense of loss considerably when you weigh up what you’ve gained. While this doesn’t belittle the importance of your sadness and the big transition you and your children are going through, it does help you to try to see the brighter side of your future. Some of the positive points include lesser time spent on cooking, laundry, cleaning up etc. Spend more time with your spouse and make him feel it is just you and him with nothing in between – just like in the early days of your marriage.
Seek support: If you find that you’re really not coping and feel a deep sense of emptiness, sadness, or an inability to get your life back on track after the children leave, it’s important to get help. You might be suffering from depression or a similar psychological ailment that is preventing you from enjoying life to its fullest. Talk to a professional and seek therapy that enables you to talk through your issues.All you need may simply need a listening ear and confirmation that what you’re going through is real, does matter, and in time, will pass.Acknowledge your grief. It doesn’t matter what other people think or say about getting on with it. Unacknowledged grief is like a cancer that will gnaw away at you if you don’t face it and let yourself be upset for a time. Allow the grief to work through your system. Treat yourself gently like a normal human with fluctuating emotions. While going through the hardship of grief, don’t neglect yourself. Have a regular massage, get your hair cut in the latest style, go to a movie now and then, buy your favourite expensive chocolate box, etc. All sadness and no happy moments is a recipe for continued blues. Finally, remember that nobody but you and you alone are responsible for your happiness.
Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back to and reasons to stay-Dalai Lama