It is that time of year, the kids are leaving for college and leaving us with an Empty Nest.
After all the years of driving them to school, making dinners and having pizza nights, we will be having an eerily quiet house. Many of us wish we could take back those nights we worked too late or missed school plays, and turn back the clock.
Some of us are still adjusting to a recent divorce and now have to face another life changing event…our children leaving home Remember the Empty Nest syndrome is a form of grief, as we are mourning the possibility that our children will never be living under our roofs full-time again.
How does one escape the empty nest doldrums?
1. Have a plan for an immediate adventure or fun event as soon as your child leaves for college. My friend took her youngest to college last August in New York City. After getting her daughter settled in, she stayed with her college roommate whom she had not seen in two decades. Her pal lived just outside the city and they had so much fun that she felt a little guilty for not missing her daughter right away. She then went on to visit her sister in a nearby state for more good times.
2. Nurture yourself. Be kind to yourself, acknowledge the pain that you are suffering, and seek some remedies. Mine was to meet a friend for a latte and get a blissful pedicure after my son left. I got a stack of favorite British magazines and dove into them while munching on high quality chocolate.
3. Reach out to others in the same situation. I get together with my fellow Empty Nesters for films and fun. I joined two MeetUp.com groups for a variety of activities. See if there are any groups that you might like, such a book club or a hiking one. Some women that I know became more active in the groups that they were already in.
4. Brush up on your skills with classes. I took some non-credit computer classes at my community college to help with my business. I am a member of Toastmasters to better my public speaking ability. One friend is getting re-certified for her professional license after a hiatus from raising kids. Another pursued a new career as her youngest was in his last year of high school. They studied together and she is very busy in her new job.
5. The key to getting through this transition is distraction. When one has too many empty hours to fill, then this period is lonely. Make your bucket list and start ticking items off it. One friend went to Nepal and did high altitude trekking while her daughter was away in college. This renewed her and definitely took her mind off her situation.
Another friend saved her redecorating until her youngest left and has newly painted walls with updated window treatments. Do a project that you have been procrastinating about, such as cleaning out your garage. After my youngest flew the coop, I got antsy and wanted to get away. By luck, I heard about a quick trip to India at a great price that fit around our spring breaks. I was so busy planning, getting visas, and packing, that my time being alone was busy. My two sons and I went in April and reconnected on this life-changing journey.
6. Have guests stay in your house for company. Invite an old friend or a relative for a visit. Consider fostering a cat or dog. The rescue groups and shelters like for animals to have a break from being in cages and you will receive unconditional love. Hospitals often need a place for a month or so to house an intern and this can generated a little cash. Schools and non-profit organizations are seeking homes that can welcome students or teachers on a short-term basis. I had two martial arts students from Korea for a few weeks and this was a great cultural experience.
This is the time to reinvent yourself and discover untapped talents and interests. Think about your past and what brought you joy and excitement in order to recreate this in your current situation. Several women I know rekindled their love of making ceramics and have gotten back into it. I just bought a lovely set of bowls from one of them. Another one has taken up riding again after a long break.
If you feel stuck, consider seeing a life coach who can help you discover some new life paths. Vent to girlfriends and you will feel calmer after this. Remember to take care of yourself and do some enjoyable pursuits.