No kids living at home, what do you do now? This question and the feelings that follow are known as empty nest syndrome. This is our new beginning. This is the time to learn how to focus on us, rekindle relationships, create quality family time and start the celebration of our new beginning.
Is empty nest syndrome real?
Mothers spend years focused on being great mums, looking after the little darlings and catering to all their needs. When the kids leave home, what ARE WE now? We are still technically a mum, but our duties and routine have certainly changed if not gone altogether. So, what do we do now? What is our role going to be?
With our main concentration being on the kids for all of their life, when they leave we have really mixed emotions. While we are feeling proud of their big step, what they have achieved and moving out on their own, our daily focus has to change. Many of the things that we have been doing with and for the children are not needed (or wanted) and while we are still there for support we move into a different role in their new lives. Our new role may feel awful, uncomfortable, unfamiliar and slightly scary. This is when our focus has to shift to our own needs. Yes, we have to focus on US.so we need to change our focus from them to us.
My 4 empty nest syndrome busters
Focus on your needs
Working out what your needs are can be hard for some mums. and may even sound selfish. Our own needs have never been our priority, not for a long long time anyway, but the time has come for you to put time and effort into putting yourself first.. Learning what you like, what it is you want to do, can be a real challenge and something you may even need to spend time thinking about and working out. It may be worth asking yourself the following questions and making a list to work through. Thinking both short-term and long-term will help too.
- What activities give you joy, that you love doing?
- Which places would you like to visit, holiday or explore?
- Where do you like to go and where do you love spending time?
- What dreams have you had for your life? Can you achieve them now?
- Are there groups or organisations you would like to join?
- Are there people you would like to see more often and catch up with?
- What books have you always wanted to read?
- Is there any study you have wanted to do?
- What hobbies or projects have you always wanted to do?
- What self-care activities do you enjoy that you could incorporate into your life?
- What community groups or organisations could you join?
- Are there any activities you and your partner can share together that you both enjoy?
Filling your life with fulfilling activities especially ones that involve other people can be a great start at building your new life. Join a yoga class, a bushwalking club, find a tennis club, art class or a meditation group or any class or group that you are interested in or brings you some satisfaction. Making sure it is connected to the community around you will help you avoid any isolation that you are feeling.
Often over the years, our love relationships get put on the back burner especially when the kids’ needs seem to be more important than our own. The spontaneity in our relationship just evaporates with the kids running in and out of our bedroom all the time. This can be a real problem when the kids get older and move out, the common bond we had with the kids is now gone and we are left on our own, unfortunately, some of our relationships are now like two ships sailing in the dark going in different directions. Our future and marriage could be rocky if things stay the same and we don’t change things.
Having an activity or a shared interest that you can both do together provides a great opportunity and way to reconnect, it gives you a common interest with your partner that gives you something to talk about other than the kids.
Exploring each other like you did in the early days
It is worth the exploration to find out what it was about our partners that made us fall in love with them. Reconnecting with our partner, in all ways, physically, emotionally or intimately can be fun, it is often something we have not made a priority to do for a long time, especially when there have been adult kids in our homes.
Deliberately changing this by putting our mind to it, may not be something we have thought about. Exploring each other as you did in the early days of the relationship to recreate the feelings we had back in the day, can be fun. It can change the whole dynamics of our relationship, making us fall back in love with the person we decided to spend the rest of our lives with.
Reintroduce date night
Every night can be date night now, but make sure each week you do have a date night. Dedicate a night each week that is only for you two, where you can do whatever it is you enjoy doing together. That might just mean spending quality time together talking, going for a walk and cooking dinner together. It doesn’t mean having an expensive night, but a 5-star meal might be exactly what it means for you, so do it.
Quality Family Time is extremely important.
Just because they have moved out doesn’t mean they don’t come home anymore or you don’t get together regularly. Making an effort to keep in touch with them regularly will keep you close and they will be missing you too, even though they probably won’t tell you. Birthdays and celebrations are always good times to get together, but doing it more regularly can build even a bigger bond.
One of the closest families I know always had Sunday night roast night back at home at mum and dad’s and they did this for years, everyone was welcome, partners, kids, friends everyone who could make it. Who came each week varied, but on average all the kids and then grandkids got together each Sunday night. What a wonderful tradition and the bonding was so obvious and still is to this day.
Celebrate that you are free.
Once you are over the loss I can promise you that you will love the fact that you are not a slave to the washing basket, the kids bedrooms can be cleaned and they stay clean, cooking a family meal isn’t such a huge task and if you don’t feel like it, an easy meal is acceptable now. Woohoo, life is so much easier and you are free to have fun doing what you want.
What will be your first steps to cope with empty nest syndrome? Learn to play piano? Book a couple’s retreat? Plan a Sunday family picnic? The redirection of focus back to you is reason for celebration.