The Empty Nest Syndrome

Whether you're an empty nester or soon to be one, you know that it's a big change for you and the family. After all, your role for the past 18 years has been to get the kids ready to make it on their own as healthy, responsible young adults. Feeling a sense of loss or sadness is common when children leave home. Empty nest syndrome is a natural condition that affects many parents, especially mothers, when their children begin to make a life without them. There are some things you can do to help you through this life transition so that you will come through it without prolonged difficulty.

Reconnect with your spouse. In all the craziness of raising the children, we sometimes lose track of our most important relationship and support person…our spouse. Don't be surprised if you feel a bit like strangers when you find yourself alone together again. Take some time to talk to each other about things you used to do together that you put aside while the kids were around or things you might like to do together in the future. Begin to reinvent your life as a couple.

Use your support system. Friends, extended family, church and community friends can provide the help you need as you let go of your life as a parent and say hello to your life as an empty nester. Get together with friends for lunch or coffee and take advantage of your "extra" time.

Make a "passion" list. These are things you've always wanted to do but never had time. Include exploring travel dreams, new hobbies, career and educational advancements, volunteering, ideas for redecorating, etc. Develop interests of your own so that your focus is on you and not the empty room in the home.

Rethink this phase of your life as a door opening, with new and exciting adventures that will add to your personal growth and development.