Empty Nest Emptiness… sounds like a thing, right? Well, that’s because it most certainly is. You see, just like you, most moms feel a sense of emptiness when they become empty nesters, or even at the thought of their upcoming empty nest. It’s a pivotal time when you have to decide what next, what now. Have you even thought about that before now? Probably not so much because you’ve been so busy doing all of the things that moms do- feeding kids, serving as a taxi driver, chef, nurse, therapist, mediator, life event navigation system, and so many other things. You name it, you’ve been doing it. So, at the end of each of your very tired days, you had no time to consider your what next, what now. Well, you have now arrived at what next, what now.
According to Psychology Today, women are actually more likely to expreience what’s commly known as Empty Nest Syndrome. So, what can you do to combat these feelings of loss, grief, depresssion, anxiety, and loneliness? No worries, I’ll give you a few tips. Now, in spite of the fact that you have often said, “I can’t wait for this kid to go off to college!”, or something along those lines, you still need to prepare for the time when that really happens.
Here are 5 simple steps to combat Empty Nest Emptiness:
- Acknowledge and Accept – Acknowledge the fact it’s happening. You can’t change it, or stop it. They will eventually grow up, and move out. That’s life. It’s what you’ve prepared them for. Go you, great job!
- Prepare- Prepare yourself and your young adult. You prepare them by allowing a shift in your role in their lives. This starts while they’re still at home, during junior and senior year of high school. You become less of a manager in their lives, and more of a consultant. Allow them to make more decisions on their own. You consult, not dictate. Okay, only as necessary, lol. That’s a joke. Believe me they’ll seek you for guidance as needed as long as you’ve established a healthy relationship. Another tool in the preparation process is to define the parameters of certain elements of your relationship when they go off to college, or their own apartment, etc. How often would you like to communicate with each other? Daily? A few time a week? Seriously, that’s an important one. Take it from me, the mom who once had the RA go check my daughter’s dorm room because I hadn’t spoken to her in 24 hours. Only to find that she was in bed sick. Oh, did I mention that the RA was a guy? Oh, or that a year later he was arrested along with some other students for home invasion and theft on campus? I probably should have fogotten to mention that. Oh well, you live and you learn. Lastly, prepare yourself. How are you going to spend all of your new found free time? No, calling and harassing your ‘baby’ is not a viable option. What are you going to do with yourself?
- Take ownership of yourself- Huh? Is that what you said when you read take ownership of yourself? It’s simple in theory, challenging in real life. Take back your identity. You’ve spent the last 18 years, at minimum, being a mom. That’s been your name, and likely your primary identity. So, who are you? Who do you want to be? How do you become that woman? I read an article that stated the people most likely to be impacted by Empty Nest Syndrome are those who rely on their roles for self identity, but those who have a strong sense of self, self-identity, and self-worth are less like to suffer through the process. Get to know you.
- Explore your passions-Take some time to discover, and/or rediscover. your passions, hopes, dreams, and desires. Re-visit those activities you once enjoyed (within reason girlfriend). If you enjoyed painting, or singing, maybe dancing, whatever it was, start doing it again; preferably before your ‘baby’ leaves home. That way you’ll have an idea what you’re going to with that free time.
- Maintain a positive outlook- Your perspective is the defining factor in this process. Remember that, and view this as a new beginning, not some tragic ending where your ‘baby’ has left you, your man is gone, and your dog just died. That’s a country song, not your life. The truth of the matter is, this is your time; time for change, growth, new adventures, and fun. It’s time for a wonderful shift in your relationship with your child; a time wheren you witness all that you taught them surface in ways that you didn’t even expect. It’a great time. Look at it that way. Surround yourself with positive people who can enjoy the ride with you. Then off they go, and off you go… moving forward.