It’s the time of year when students leave for college, 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 and the friends of their son or daughter in the house, this departure can be very difficult. I remember one friend telling me that she sat down in her son’s empty bedroom after he left for college and just cried. So much of her daily activity had been wrapped up in his life, so naturally it left a big hole. There was also the acknowledgment that this was a major life transition—he was no longer a boy.
Here are some tips that you might find useful if you are suffering from the Empty Nest:
- 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, learn a skill, refresh your relationship with your partner and friends.
- 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 stuffed animals 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.
- 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.
- 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 son or daughter who has moved away. Not only is this counterproductive but it can also make them 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.