7 Tips for Empty Nest Moms
Kids grow up so fast. Remember when you were in grade school and the summers felt eternal? Children really do perceive time as moving more slowly, and as we grow up, our perception of time speeds up. From a parent’s perspective it feels like just yesterday that our children were in diapers, and now the youngest is already eighteen and heading off to college. How quickly time goes by.
Every parent will eventually reach the point where each child has reached adulthood. They grow up and go off to college. They may move out gradually and continue to be in and out for a few years. But by their early to mid-20s, they’ve almost always moved out for good.
Adjusting to an empty nest can be surprisingly difficult. You’ve spent eighteen years or more as a parent. Raising your children was a big part of your life and identity, and now they’re all grown up and they may even have kids of their own soon. But there’s an upside: you have more space in your home and more time for yourself. When the nest is empty, it’s a great time to get back in touch with yourself and your own passions.
1. Get Some Rest
One day, it will be the first day your nest is truly empty. You may have been through this already, or you may have a high school senior who’s getting ready for college. Either way, it’s a good idea to get some rest after they’re gone. As a parent, an empty nest can sometimes be emotionally distressing. You need to give yourself some time to really cope and come to terms with this major new change in your life.
2. Spend Time with Your Child Before They Leave
Before your child goes off to college, why not plan a family vacation? It’s a great way to spend some extra time with them before they head out of the house.
4. Stay Connected
Email, text messages, phone calls, Facebook, and even handwritten letters are all great ways to stay in touch with your adult children. They’re still in your life; they just don’t live in your house anymore. You can still find ways to communicate and spend time with them, even if they’ve moved all the way across the country.
5. Spend Time with Your Spouse
When you’re no longer dealing with raising a child, it’s a great time to reconnect with your spouse. With your children out of the house, you can spend time together and rekindle the romance that brought you together in the first place. Romantic dinners, a resort getaway for two, and even just going for a walk together can strengthen your relationship with each other.
6. Find Your Passion
Raising children is a full-time job -- and if you’re like a lot of mothers, myself included, you balanced raising your kids with another full-time job as well. Between taking care of your children and going to work, you probably went through a period of time when you didn’t really have all that much time to yourself.
Now you do have time. What’s that thing you always wanted to do but never had the time for? Now you can do it. Whether your dream was to write a novel, to learn to paint, or even to start your own small business, your newly empty nest has left you with the freedom to make it happen.
No, really. You can start your own business, if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do. With the kids out of the house, and some extra money in your pocket as a result, it’s a great time to indulge your entrepreneurial tendencies. Thanks to the internet, there are a ton of great possibilities that you could consider. You could become a freelance writer or graphic designer in your spare time, or you could even sell products through Amazon or Ebay.
7. Go Back to School
Have you considered getting an additional advanced degree, like a master’s or PhD, to further your career? If so, your empty nest provides the perfect opportunity to go back to school.
Pay Attention to Your Moods
“Empty nest syndrome” is when parents feel empty or sad after their children have moved out. This is fairly normal, and it’s always a bittersweet and emotional time when your children go off to college. But if you have a history of mood disorders like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder, the emotional stress of having an empty nest could trigger mood disorder symptoms. It’s important to be in tune with how you’re feeling -- there’s a difference between sadness and depression. If you’re experiencing a depressive episode, it’s important to talk to your doctor about talk therapy and other treatment options that can help.
Making the Most of Your Empty Nest
When your youngest child goes off to college, the experience is bittersweet. You’re glad they’ve grown up well and that they’re ready to go off and start their own adult life. But at the same time, after eighteen years or more of raising children, an empty nest can leave you feeling kind of, well, empty. But there are some big upsides to an empty nest. With more free time and fewer expenses, you can all the things you always wanted to do but didn’t have the time for. An empty nest can be a wonderful new beginning for you.