6 ways to cope with empty nest syndrome

Loosening the ties of your kids when they leave home is never going to be easy. You have spent a long time nurturing and caring for them. When the time came for me and my family, I thought I was well prepared. I had taught them how to cook, how to do washing and ironing (a waste of time!). I’d bought all the kitchen things they could possibly need. What I hadn’t considered was me and my feelings.

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I was fine on the day we took them to University, it was all very exciting for them. But on the journey home – the tears started. The house was quiet, the washing basket was empty, and the biscuit tin was full. I felt as though I was grieving. I kept telling myself to stop being so daft, they would be home in a few months, but it didn’t help. 

A recent survey revealed that 47% of parents were suffering from empty nest syndrome; 94% said they weren’t ready for the peace and quiet empty nest brings.
 
I continued my routine, I put my happy face mask on and continued at work. I got home and cried. Friends and family saying "You must be enjoying the peace..." couldn’t be further off the mark. I hated it. I wanted the noisy electric guitar practice back. 

I gradually realised I needed to do things to fill in the time. It wasn’t the end of the book of my parenting journey, it was just the end of the chapter.

In the end, I didn’t just survive empty nest syndrome, I thrived. I started going to concerts again – something I hadn’t done for many years. I took up new hobbies. Change brings opportunities – that’s often the bit we forget.
 
For anyone going through empty nest syndrome, these are my top tips.

1. Acknowledge how you feel

The stiff upper lip is not going to help. If you are struggling, just acknowledge that. Covering it up will make things worse. Don’t compare yourself to your friends, we are all different and we feel emotions differently. How you feel, is how you feel.

2. Be patient

Adjustments and changes to life take time. Don’t rush things, but don’t wallow in self-pity either. No change is straightforward, there are ups and downs but overall, try and take small steps forward each week.

3. Fill your time

Is there a hobby you have always wanted to do but never had time for? Or a class you wanted to go to but couldn’t due to being the kids' taxi? Now is the time to start doing it. I found Calligraphy a good thing to learn, as I had to focus – my mind couldn’t wander to loneliness.

4. It’s good to talk

Talk to friends, family, and your partner. Share how you are feeling with them. However, it's time to let your child go. Messaging every hour is not giving them freedom. Work out a call/contact frequency that suits you both, but allows you both to find your freedom.

Years ago, in the days before mobile phones and emails, it was difficult to keep in touch, phone boxes and letters were the only method of communication. I remember my brother disappearing to Uni and I didn’t hear from him till he came home at the end of term. Different times.

5. Remember you are the parent

The last thing your child needs is to have to worry or parent you. You don’t need to lie and say "I’m fine" – instead acknowledge that you are readjusting, that you find the house quiet. This is a time of change for them too, and somehow you need to support them on their new adventure whilst dealing with the change in your life.

6. Get help

Support is available on many levels. Talking to friends or family may help you. However, you do need to talk to someone who can help move you forward, not just sympathise.

There are some online communities around – they range from groups for empty nesters to share what they are going through, to groups that give support. In my own group Empty Nest to Inner Strength community, there is group coaching as well as group emotional freedom technique sessions and a community of folk going through the same as you.

If you would like more individual support then coaching is the way forward. It will provide you with support that is right for where you are now and help you think about what you really want to do; moving your focus from "This is awful, I'm so lonely" to "This is tough but there are so many possibilities". A coach will help you define your values and goals. They may support you to work on your boundaries to help you create your next chapter.

This is what I focus on with clients who embark on Empty Nest to Inner Strength 90 days coaching. I also include the emotional freedom technique (EFT or tapping) This unique combination helps to calm the nervous system helping you move from panic to calm. Once you reach a state of calm, you can make better decisions, see more possibilities and start to enjoy the next chapter of your life.

Remember this isn't the end, it's just the start of a new chapter.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Corsham, Wiltshire, SN13
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Written by Julie Brewster, APC, ACC, Chartered MCIPD
Corsham, Wiltshire, SN13

Hello, Thank you for stopping by! I specialise in using my Holistic Coaching Method to focus on Procrastination and Self-Sabotage. By bringing in EFT Tapping, we can calm and gently rewire the brains neural pathways to bring about change and clarity helping you to reach your full potential....

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