How to Enjoy the Empty Nest

Some parents may feel at a loss when all of their children leave the home. In fact, some people may not know how to cope with an empty nest. If parents take this change as an opportunity rather than a tragedy, it can be start of a new chapter in their lives. You can avoid empty nest syndrome by seeing this change as a new beginning instead of an ending.

Learn About the Symptoms

The signs of empty nest syndrome will vary person to person, but some of the feelings you may experience are loneliness, sadness, an empty feeling, regret, apathy, guilt and uselessness. In short, you may feel lost without your child around. Sometimes you may find yourself wandering around the house worrying, and you may have difficulty concentrating. If all of these things occur around the time your child leaves the home, empty nest syndrome might be affecting you.

Avoiding Depression

Empty nest depression is more common than you might think. You may be excited for your child, but you may feel sad because you will miss them in your life. It's normal to feel as if you are left out of your child's life or to feel lonely.

The key to staying positive about life is to be as active as possible. Try a new hobby. If you like to read, think about joining a book club. Try joining a gym or learning something new, such as sewing, knitting or kickboxing. If you've always been interested in something, now's the time to take lessons. After all, nothing is stopping you, and you will have more time to pursue new passions.

Also, many people go back to school when their children leave the home. Have you always wanted a Masters or Doctorate degree or wished you'd attended or finished college? You could even go back for a class or two and brush up on a language you haven't spoken in a while.

Additionally, traveling is made much easier: you won't have to work around a child. Have you always wanted to go to New Zealand? This is the right time to make the trip. When a child leaves the home, look at it as an opportunity rather than as a tragedy. You don't even have to go as far as another country: you could even take a weekend trip to a new city or explore a new neighborhood.

Another way to deal with empty nest syndrome is to go out into your community and try volunteering. You can burn the effort you would have used helping your child on helping others. Evaluate what interests you, and find a worthwhile cause to champion and work with.

Also make new plans for the future. Write down your goals, hopes and dreams. Then think about personal goals and goals for you and your loved ones. Look back on this list whenever you feel down about the empty nest, and this list will help keep you in a positive frame of mind.

Dealing With the Physical Space

Now that your children are out the house, you can take on home improvement projects. You can go big and add to the home, or you could do something as small as redecorating your bathroom and turning your child's bedroom into a home office. Although you will want to keep important mementos, this could also be a chance for you to do some heavy cleaning and rid yourself of broken furniture and unused items. If you clear away what you don't need, you can make more room for new memories.

Reconnecting With the People in Your Life

When your children leave the home, this could be a moment of renewal for a relationship. You and your loved one could take this as a catalyst to renew your vows, try new things and reconnect with one another. Try having regular date nights with your partner and taking trips together.

Also, this could be a chance for you to spend more time with other people in your life. Having children is a full-time job, and you may have lost touch with some of your friends. If you are in the habit of sending yearly holiday cards, drop a few hints that your child will be moving out of the house or going off to college. That way, friends will be expecting you when you reconnect.

Communicating With Your Child

Though your child is out of the home, try your best to stay in contact with them. You don't need to visit them every single weekend. Instead, try e-mailing or calling them once a week. This will give your child space but will also keep up a positive relationship. Set up a routine: If you know you'll talk to your child on a regular basis, you may feel more solid about their move.

Seeking Outside Help

If, after a few months, nothing seems to help and you feel more and more depressed, think about talking to a counselor. Counseling could give you a neutral space to talk about how you feel. Additionally, talking about this to someone who doesn't know your child could be valuable. You won't have to worry about how you sound when discussing your emotions.

You could also join a support group. It may help to talk to other people who have dealt with empty nest syndrome. Interacting with a group of people who have had similar experiences and thoughts may be an important step in your healing. It may help you to know you aren't alone in these feelings.

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