Isn’t it amazing, last week my daughter, Chloe wrote about the joy felt by parents, mums especially, when the long summer holiday comes to an end, and the children go back to school.

Well, I’m going to fast forward ten years or even less, and those same children could well be leaving home and off to university, how do you think you’ll be feeling then?

I’m sure we all know parents who have sacrificed everything for their children, even to the detriment of their own relationships, how difficult it must be for these parents to ‘let go’. 

The child you’ve been totally responsible for… you’ve fed, nursed, consoled, laughed and cried with, even befriended, is no longer there on a day to day basis. 

For some parents, a child leaving home it is heartbreaking, I’ve heard so many women say,

“I don’t have a purpose anymore”, 

“I feel I’ve lost my identity”

Empty Nest Syndrome

sadness or emotional distress affecting parents whose children have grown up and left home’

Around this time of the year there are many articles written on this subject, all suggesting those affected should look for another hobby, fill the space by doing some voluntary work, rekindle relationships, all good advice, but perhaps not for everyone.

It’s important to realise that this feeling of loss is natural, and felt by so many parents. 

Research from The Mayo Clinic suggesting that these feelings can last for several weeks, until the parent realises that they have some extra time during the day to spend on themselves, with partners or friends. 

Although other research shows that the actual transition from being an actively involved mother to being an independant woman again can be anything from eighteen months to two years.

Let’s not forget when talking about Empty Nest Syndrome, that it is inevitable our children will leave home, surely that is what we’ve been preparing them for? Their journey into adulthood, to become happy, successful, independent people, even parents themselves.

As the feeling of loss starts to lift, it could be a great opportunity for ‘the parent’ to embark on a journey of their own, getting fit is a great one, costs very little and those endorphins will really give you a lift!  

But a word of warning…as you start enjoying a sense of freedom, university terms are short, and the ‘child’ will return, laden with washing and loads of untidiness!

Here are my tips to help you through the Empty Nest feeling.

  1. Acknowledge how you feel and talk through your feelings with your partner, friend or both.
  2. Realise that dynamics will change within the home and relationships, but being part of the next stage of your child’s life can be equally exciting.
  3. With social media it’s so easy to keep in touch, but think how your child will be feeling too, will they want unexpected Facetime calls as they’re making new friends in the uni bar! Perhaps better to email or text initially!
  4. Try to do something for yourself, even if it’s just making the effort to go for a thirty minute walk, so difficult I know if you’re feeling low, but the rewards will outway the effort, believe me.
  5. If time permits, join a class, so many start in September and it’s a great way to meet new people…pole and line dancing are still on my list… when I have time! 
  6. Think about keeping a journal of your thoughts and feelings as you walk this new road. Apart from helping you, it may also help friends in the future, who could be feeling as you do now.
  7. Finally, congratulate yourself, you’ve done a great job getting your child to where they are today, and that’s no easy task.

Some parents find children leaving home more difficult than others,

If after four to six weeks there’s no improvement in the feeling of sadness, it’s important to seek medical advice.