Your children have been – and continue to be – the biggest part of your life. Even if you have a separate and fulfilling career, it’s your children that will carry you through and make you feel loved and as if you have a purpose in life. The moment your children move out and set up lives of their own, there is a feeling of grief that washes over a parent. You spent years and years teaching them to walk, to talk, to eat, and to be patient. You teach your children to be safe, to conduct themselves in a way that reflects themselves as good and kind human beings. The moment that they stop needing you in the way that a child does, it’s devastation mixed in with happiness and joy that you have taught your children well.
It causes you to grieve when your child lets go of your hand for the last time. But do you know what happens when they do that? You get your hand back. You’re moving forward into retirement now, and this part of your life is your time back in your hands to do what YOU want, based on YOUR time – without the interruption of the school timetable and the clubs you’ve taken the kids to for years. You get back some freedom, and while you are dealing with empty nest syndrome and grieving the time that was spent with baby giggles and nighttime feeds that are now past, you get to get excited. So, with this in mind, we’ve put together a list of things that you can do to get used to your newly empty nest so that you can feather it once more.
- Give yourself a little time. You’ve spent decades as a hands-on mother doing all of the school runs and helping your children with clubs, baking birthday cakes and more. You may still even be involved in a few of these activities, but the one thing to remember is that you shouldn’t expect too much of yourself. Acknowledge that you are grieving the years that went by so fast, and allow yourself to feel your feelings on the outside, too. You need to let the grief work so that you can come to peace.
- Don’t lose touch. Just because the kids have moved out, it doesn’t mean that you won’t see them. Remind them that they will still have an open door at your home for them to come back whenever they want to. You can also explain that you’d love to keep a fixed date for them to come home for dinner, but that the day itself can move around depending on their new, separate lives.
- Keep positive. Your children moving out isn’t the end of your life, so think about what you gain when this happens, not what you lose. You gain the time to sell your now oversized house and you can learn how to buy a condo instead. You gain more money because you can finally reduce the cost of your utility bills and groceries. You can gain some peace and time to do the things that you wanted to do in the house without anyone else saying no to you. Stay positive: the days are different, but different doesn’t mean bad.
- Activities and interests. You get the time to explore all of the interests and things that you didn’t get to explore when you were younger. If you’ve wanted to travel, now is the time that you have the money and space to do it. You can join clubs and meet with old friends – there is plenty for you to do and you finally have enough time to be able to do those things at last.
- Focusing on a career. You have between 10-30 possible years of working left when your children are grown up – depending on your age difference. You can use the time that you have to refocus on a career that you either let go years ago, or you have new interests that you want to pursue. You may not want to go back to work but you want to stay busy, instead. Well, now is the time you can pick up on interests that you had long let go of. It’s your time to shine, now.
- Get some support. From friends, family, and exterior sources, you can get some help to deal with empty nest syndrome and feel okay with what’s going on. The children are grown and have been raised to be good, kind people. You should feel proud of yourself for that!