The empty nest transition
It was hard when my eldest son left home. I had planned a weekend trip to Paris to visit my sister after he had gone. A little adventure and excitement to take my mind off his leaving and besides, my youngest son was still living at home.
On a beautiful warm and sunny day one September I dropped my youngest son off to start university. This was many years ago now, yet I clearly remember the beautiful warm autumn day and how sad I felt. In fact, I’m not quite sure how I got home in one piece as I was crying most of the drive back. My cosy nest was now empty of children and this life transition turned out to be more challenging than I had expected.
The house was quiet, and I yearned to have all the noise and mess of children back there again. It’s funny isn’t it? I remember when they were both babies and not being able to wait for them to reach all their milestones – sitting up, crawling, walking. Rushing their lives at home away and now it had happened all I wanted was for them to come back.
Despite having a full-time and fulfilling career, I still felt the loss of my mum role deeply, like I’d lost part of myself.
I have to admit to being a bit of a sensitive soul and in the months that followed I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions as I adjusted to my empty nest. I remember becoming really conscious of families with their children while I was out and about, watching them wistfully and wondering if I’d made the most of being a family myself. A lot of the time I just felt sad and lost.
For me, looking back, my empty nest became the start of a period of personal growth which eventually led me to train as a certified life coach. As the time approaches for many young adults to leave home and go to university I feel a soft spot in my heart for all the parents who are going to experience this transition which is why I designed my six week group coaching programme – Successful Empty Nesting. Of course, not all parents will struggle, but many will and that includes dads as well as mums. The Empty Nest Syndrome is recognised as a loss that can generate feelings of grief, so if you have been feeling sad and lost be reassured that this is a normal and natural reaction to this huge change.
There are many ways that you can help yourself manage the empty nest transition:
Above all, be kind to yourself
Allow yourself the time and space you need to adjust to this period. It can feel like a major loss. Treat yourself as you would treat a best friend going through something similar.
Acknowledge your emotions
It’s ok for you not to feel ok about your children leaving. Feeling these negative emotions will allow you to work through them and come out of the other side. Stuffing your emotions down and pretending they are not there can invite problems further down the line.
Reach out to family and friends
It can be so easy to isolate yourself when you’re feeling sad. Sharing how you feel with others might feel a bit scary but most close friends and family will welcome the chance to support you.
Make a plan
Set some new goals and start creating a vision for your future. This is your time, what would you like to do with it? Taking action can help you feel more in control of your situation.
We can think of a life transition as crossing a bridge. As we approach a change in our life – the bridge -often something is ending which can bring with it uncertainty and feelings of loss. While you are crossing the bridge you might feel as though you have lost direction, you may be resistant to the change or feel like a ship without an anchor. By the time you reach the other side of the bridge you will have regained your sense of direction as you begin to adapt to your new normal.
If you need help crossing the bridge now your child has left home, why not join my six-week online coaching programme, or book a free discovery session with me. We can have a chat about how you can make the most of this new chapter of your life.
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