Family & Relationships

7 Life Hacks to Deal with Empty Nest Syndrome

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If you’re a parent of a child who’s preparing to move out of your home for the first time, it’s likely you’ll experience feelings and emotions associated with empty nest syndrome. It can be difficult to deal with a quiet home that is now less occupied while also giving your child the freedom to enjoy their newfound independence.

Although it can be normal to suffer anxiety and sadness with the transition, there are a few ways you can deal with empty nest syndrome symptoms to ensure you can resume your normal life — and discover exciting new opportunities — without focusing too much on the absence of your children. Get back on schedule with these empty nester tips:

1. Stay busy as an empty nester.

For parents who have a close relationship with their children, it can be easy to focus too much attention on their kids’ lives instead of remaining present in their own. For empty nesters who are not used to living without their children, it’s important to stay busy and maintain hobbies or activities throughout the week. Meet up with friends each week to socialize and make it a point to exercise with activities such as playing tennis, jogging and participating in yoga.

As your children develop their own lives, it’s important that you continue to pick up new hobbies and interests that allow you to enjoy life instead of remaining too involved in your children’s schedules. Consider learning photography, taking art classes or volunteering to maintain a rich and active life that allows you to have activities to look forward to. You can also sign up for clubs or classes in the local area for a great way of meeting other adults. With a little imagination, you can even have fun during these cold winter months.

2. Set a schedule to communicate with your children.

Empty nesters who may be struggling with the absence of their adult children in their home may find it difficult to refrain from contacting their child each day with phone calls and text messages. For many parents, this can cause them to become too clingy, which can limit the freedom and independence that the children experience as they’re learning to be on their own for the first time.

Although you don’t need to feel deprived with how much you communicate, it’s important as an empty nester to set a schedule that you can both agree on to ensure that you’re not overstepping your boundaries. Consider scheduling a phone call every three days or once a week, which will allow you to have something to look forward to when you want to maintain a close relationship with the adult child. Also, always let them know they can call whenever they need to, whether it’s an emergency or they just need someone to talk to.

Setting a schedule will prevent strain on the relationship and will also create healthy guidelines instead of wondering if you should contact them each day.

3. Establish new goals.

As your life transitions to a new season when you begin to live alone with your significant other or by yourself, you can avoid empty nest syndrome by setting new goals for yourself in the coming year. Establishing goals or dreams you can work toward will allow you to maintain independence and feel fulfilled when the goals are accomplished. Consider creating goals that have been on the back burner for several years, which can include taking college courses, writing a book or running a marathon.

Write down goals that allow you to feel challenged and will stretch your limits, which will make it easier to focus more on growing your skills and endurance instead of placing too much attention on your child’s abilities. Allow yourself to feel motivated by establishing deadlines and buying new equipment or resources that will help you reach your goals.

4. Revive the romance in your life.

Although struggling with empty nest syndrome depression and loneliness can be challenging, it also makes for the perfect opportunity to revive your romantic life and allow it to thrive. For many empty nesters, this is the first time that they can focus on themselves and their partner.

For parents who are dealing with a variety of empty nest syndrome symptoms, it can mean scheduling a date night once or twice a week and enjoying activities that include wine tasting, dancing or cooking for one another. Consider enhancing your wardrobe with new attire that your spouse will appreciate and planning special surprises that help re-create that spark you feel when you are together.

Empty nest syndrome and divorce can occur when children move out of the home, but can be avoided by valuing your relationship and allowing it to succeed with more effort. This will allow you to enjoy your partner’s company and avoid divorcing due to empty nest syndrome, which can shatter the family dynamic.

5. Seek out support.

One of the main mistakes many people make when dealing with an empty household is attempting to navigate the new environment alone. Instead of trying to remain strong on your own, it’s important to seek the support of your family members and friends. Be honest and open with the emotions that you’re experiencing, which will allow you to receive helpful advice from others who have gone through the same experience.

Schedule coffee dates, host dinner parties and make it a point to strengthen the relationships that you treasure to fill the void of having a child move out of the home. You’ll be able to find comfort with those who are in the same stage of life as you and have the time to help you with the process.

6. Plan a vacation.

One of the most difficult places to be for empty nesters is in their own home after their children have moved out. If you find it challenging to stay home too much, consider planning a trip to a destination that you can visit with your spouse or with a friend. You’ll enjoy planning an itinerary, trying new activities and relaxing in a spectacular location that will allow you to escape.

Attempt to take a trip that offers plenty of adventure for an incredible way of having a bit of fun instead of spending too much time thinking about your life back home.

7. Try to remain positive.

Any type of change or transition can be difficult, which can make it easy to become negative with your thoughts and with what you focus on. You may spend too much time reliving old memories or wishing you could go back in time. This can easily lead to depression and loneliness instead of adjusting to the change. Instead, make it a point to remain positive and avoid negative thoughts. Instead of dreading going home each day, be thankful that your child is independent and has developed into a well-rounded adult. Write down what you’re thankful for to change your perspective, look for ways to reduce stress and focus on the good in your life.

Some parents who begin to deal with empty nest syndrome depression can compare themselves to their children and their own experiences leaving home. It can be easy to think that it’s too soon for the adult child to move out or you may feel the need to encourage them to move back home. Instead of trying to change the circumstances, accept the timing and realize that you can’t be in control of your child’s life as they enter adulthood.

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