As your youngest child packs up and moves out of home, as a parent you’re likely to experience a powerful mix of emotions.
Of course, you’re proud that all the life skills you’ve instilled are being put to good use. But as the baby of the family starts to make their way in the world, you’re also likely to feel apprehensive and anxious.
How will they cope financially? What happens if they get sick and you’re not there to help them? Can they manage the groceries, cooking and cleaning all by themselves?
Much as this is a momentous day that you know you should be proud of, it’s also likely to be riddled with fear. You may also experience something that doesn’t align with the outward achievement of raising a healthy, capable child.
After spending 18+ years giving everything to your kids, as the youngest flies the coop, many parents are unprepared for the gap this can leave in their life. Primarily mums (but also dads) can find themselves grieving for the time they were the primary carer of their child.
Empty Nest Syndrome is a recognised condition and common feelings can include:
Lack of purpose
If you’ve spent the last two decades running a busy home and organising school and social activities, it can be a huge transition to suddenly find yourself with little to do each day. While the spare time sounds like every busy mum’s dream, this can suddenly lead to a lack of purpose that leaves you wondering how to fill your days.
While all families have their ups and downs, there is no bond stronger than that of a parent and their child. In the early days particularly, you’ll find yourself missing them and missing the noise and activity that once filled the home.
Stress in relationships
If you and your partner are the last two left in the home, there are no distractions and attention will naturally turn to each other. While this can re-ignite a honeymoon period for some, it can also highlight relational issues that had previously been brushed to the side.
The first time your child must fend for themselves is likely to raise anxieties about how they will cope. Further, you may find yourself worrying more because they’re out of sight. You don’t know what time they’re coming home, who they’re spending time with and whether they’re safe.
After the youngest has left home, you’ll miss them. Having been by your side since they were a baby, adapting from seeing them every day to your new routine is likely to leave you lonely for the company you once relied on.
If this sounds familiar, take comfort in the fact that you’re not on your own. While those around you may be telling you to enjoy the space, here are five practical things you can do to move through the challenges of this life change.
1) Redefine your role
As a mother, you’re likely to have been the primary carer for your child for most of their life and you’ll find yourself at a loss. The child that depended on you no longer needs you like they did which can lead to a huge question over your identity. Consciously redefine your role in their life from that of a mum who meets all their needs to a mum who catches up with them for dinner or shopping dates. A child will always need their parents no matter how old they get but you’ll need to set new boundaries once your child becomes independent which may take time and a conscious effort.
2) Discover a creative outlet
Getting creative is one of the most effective ways to deal with grief on any level. Whether you like to paint, dance, write or decorate, now’s the time to process your emotions through creativity.
3) Re-establish relationships
You’re likely to have a lot more free time on your hands which you can now invest in those around you. Whether this is your partner, friends or work colleagues, you’re entering the next phase of your life so the relationships around you need to be built to accommodate the next stage.
4) Fill the void
Your home life is undoubtedly going to be calmer and less busy. Make a realistic plan of how you intend to spend your days to avoid feeling depressed and lonely. Consider taking on more hours at work, joining clubs or societies, starting a renovation project, booking a holiday or joining a social group.
5) Seek hypnotherapy
When your role changes significantly after such a long time, you can question your identity which puts pressure on yourself and the relationships around you. While for many, Empty Nest Syndrome is a transition that eases over time, for others, the grief is a much more complex process.
Hypnotherapy is a natural therapy that will help you reframe your existing situation to feel more positive and embrace the next period of life. If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or depressed about this significant change, hypnotherapy can help identify those feelings and attach positive emotions to the fear and panic helping you to cope better.
Empty Nest Syndrome often comes at a time where parents are dealing with a combination of life changes such as menopause, upcoming retirement and potential health issues. To find out more about hypnotherapy for empty nesters, contact Jade today.