Surviving the “Empty Nest”

2013-08-23 02.37.50It’s the time of year when students leave for university and it may be the first time they are living away from home. For many parents, who are used to having the noise, the energy, the friends, and the mess of their son or daughter in the house, this departure can be very difficult. I remember one friend telling me that she just sat down in her son’s empty bedroom after he left for university and just cried. So much of her daily activity had been wrapped up in his life, so naturally, it left a big hole. And, there was the acknowledgment that this was a major life transition – he was no longer a boy.

My own two grown-up children have both moved from the U.K. to Los Angeles where they are now going to reside permanently. This has been hard, as we are a close family, but thanks to what I have learned through coaching and NLP, I have been able to manage myself in a better way. Here are some tips that you might find useful if you are suffering from the Empty Nest:

  1. Develop your own interests. Because we can become so busy raising our children, we sometimes forget to develop and spend time on ourselves. Think of this time as your opportunity to do something new, to refresh your relationship with your partner.
  2. Don’t hang onto their possessions if they no longer want them. I have another friend whose children left home a few years ago (with no intention of returning), who has kept their bedrooms just as they left them. There are clothes, school trophies, children’s books and cuddly toys all over the place. This “stuff” keeps pulling my friend back into the sentimental past, which drains her energy and makes her tearful. Try to get rid of the things that are no longer wanted and just keep a few special items. Even consider redecorating the vacant bedrooms so that new use can be made of them.
  3. Do More Exercise. Physical activity can help put things back into perspective, and also helps build energy for doing the things you never had the time to do before.
  4. Use Technology.  There are so many ways that modern technology helps me keep in touch with my kids in California, Skype, texting and Facebook to name a few. A tip here is not to overdo it. I’ve found that booking a regular call slot can work well.
  5. Let go and trust them to live their life (probably the hardest one of all). It can be all too easy to spend 24 hours a day worrying about a child who has moved away. Not only is this counterproductive, but it can also make the child feel frustrated and guilty. You have invested a great deal of time, energy and love in raising your children. Now is the time to let them find their own way in life and follow their own dreams.
I am an ICF Professional Certified Coach, NLP Master Practitioner and Certified Hypnotherapist. I offer coaching face-to-face and by phone, or Skype.