Flying the Coop:
Back to School Leaves Empty Nest Parents Feeling Blue
Empty Nest Syndrome is characterized by an overwhelming feeling of depression and lack of purpose that is felt with each child’s departure from the family home. Off to college, newly married, or a job opportunity afar all trigger these emotions. However, it’s not really a done deal until the very last child, the baby, has flown the coop.
My youngest is in middle school so I’m not quite there, but with my oldest starting her Junior year in High School, I can see the emptying of the nest coming all too quickly … and I’m not looking forward to it. I’ve already made a mental note to be conscious of not letting my sadness at her departure overshadow her excitement for the new adventures that lie ahead. I know it will be liberating and I’ll enjoy the quiet and reclaimed leisure time. An adjustment for sure, you just can’t turn off 18 years of mothering.
Friends have shared how emotionally painful it is, sending their kids off to college. No longer having your child under foot, no one in need of daily care & feeding, not knowing if they’ve made it home safely, remembered to lock their doors, eat their vegetables, and floss their teeth. I’ll sure miss making the nightly rounds to kiss each little head and knowing they are all tucked in their beds, safe and sound in the nest.
The vast majority of those afflicted are moms, no surprise there. Stay at home mothers are particularly hard hit, feeling a lack of identity. Dads are not immune, concerned if they’ve prepared their child well enough to be on their own, and having regrets about not having spent enough quality time with them when they were young.
I often tell my husband that these days with all of us under one roof are numbered. When the kids are grown and on their own, he will not be wishing he’d spent more time at the office. He has yet to heed my words of wisdom.
Experts at Psychology Today advise to use this extra time to pick up old or new hobbies, go back to school or the workplace, reconnect with your spouse. In fact, research published in the Journal of Psychological Science shows that marital satisfaction actually increases with new found time to reconnect with your spouse. It is also time to forge a different kind of relationship with your child, more advisory and mentoring.
Find pride and comfort in the job you’ve done as a parent. Give them the confidence to spread their wings and fly! Pat yourself on the back. Take a load off and RELAX, you’ve earned it!
Here is a good read that I enjoyed from an empty nester mom last year.
Send some encouragement to an empty nester or a fun celebratory card to the college bound making the transition a little bit easier for all.
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