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If you're an "empty nester", these tips may help you through the transition

Posted at 2:15 PM, Sep 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-07 16:15:05-04

Empty nest syndrome refers to the feelings of sadness, grief, depression, loneliness, emptiness and loss when children grow up, leave for college, get married or leave home to live on their own.

"Empty-nesters" can either be mothers or fathers, but mothers are primarily the ones who have the most difficulty coping with an empty nest when children begin leaving home.

Relationship Coach Val Baldwin says, "What do I do now? What can I do now?, are questions empty-nest mothers commonly ask since they have spent most of their lives focused on raising children and caring for the home and family." Does this sound like you? If so, here are 5 important tips to help you through this empty-nest transition.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE: Realize it's quite normal and natural to have these feelings and have a little cry every now and then because of it. So don't be ashamed of your feelings. It's normal and you are not alone.

CONGRATULATE YOURSELF! Give yourself a big pat on the back for having raised your children in such a way that you're not dealing with adult children living at home years after kids should have left home. Realize that you have accomplished the ultimate parent goal of raising full grown, successful, independent adults. Way to go!

IT'S TIME FOR A FRESH START: It's time to change your focus on being a parent and its responsibilities to now focusing on things that bring YOU enjoyment, pleasure and a sense of fulfillment. Ask yourself, if you could do it all over again, what are some "coulda, shoulda, woulda" things you wish you had done before getting married or having kids? What comes to mind will answer your "What do I do now?" question. Whether it's going back to school, doing volunteer work, finding a new hobby, taking a trip, learning a new language, making a career change….the sky is the limit. It's YOUR turn to rediscover YOU with no guilt!

YOUR CHILD'S NEEDS VERSUS YOUR NEEDS: When your child leaves home, you'll obviously want to keep in touch but don't try and do this excessively. Be sensitive to the fact that your child is trying to take a big, significant step in life – which has to be done on their own. They will need your support, but will not want to feel swamped by you trying to take over and making all their decisions. And the more your cling or show that you're upset about them being gone, the less likelihood there is of them contacting you.

Ask your child how often they would like to talk with you on the phone. No more than 2 times a week is healthy. Also ask them how often would texting/emailing be OK. You need to give them their space but keeping in contact shows you care and will always be there for them when they need you.
You can still do things for your child like send them a care package and it will make you feel better to do this. There is nothing better than getting groceries from mom or a set of towels for their new apartment. Try not to overdo in the beginning.

CREATE A NEW MARRIAGE FOR YOUR NEW LIFE: Many marriages are frail at the empty nest stage because they haven't been nurtured in the way they should have been during the "raising kids" years. The divorce rate rises 16 percent for married parents during the empty nest stage. Your attitude should be that this is a terrific opportunity to create a brand new marriage for you both.

Make a date with your sweetie once a week that takes place outside of the house. Plan a vacation to someplace you have always wanted to go together. Learn what each of you like and dislike nowadays – movies, food, concerts, vacation spots, sports, etc. Review the home chores, list them all and make a fresh decision about who will do what in this new marriage. Talk about how you both want this next phase of life to be like. Share your dreams and desires and come up with a win-win for both of you.

With no kids in the house, you can play again. Shower together, watch movies on the couch in sexy clothes, wear even less around the house and see what happens. Sex can become the best ever during the empty nest phase.

When your children leave the nest, your life purpose is not over. It's actually the start of a brand new chapter in your life that has yet to be written. In fact, this can be the happiest and richest time of your life if you choose to make it happen.

Now go get started!

You can learn more from Val at valbaldwin.com.