It’s common to feel at a bit of a loss when you eventually get the house back to yourself. Your home – once a noisy hub of activity – can seem very quiet and still once your children have moved on; and the relief and excitement of getting your space back can soon be replaced with boredom, loneliness and sadness if you don’t find meaningful ways of occupying your time.
Empty nest syndrome is often described as a feeling of grief that people experience once their children have left home. Parents who have spent every waking hour thinking about the needs of others can feel very vulnerable and worthless after that role is taken away from them and this can sometimes lead to relationship problems and confusion about what to do next – and who to do it with!
If you are in a relationship, the top priority once the kids have left home is to reconnect with your partner. It’s easy for our interests and goals to have shifted during the time it takes to raise a family, and relationship support organisation Relate suggests you start with a light-hearted quiz to confirm that you still have a good understanding of each other’s needs and to check if your hopes and dreams for the future remain aligned. Read more.
For more tips of how to keep the spark alive in your relationship, have a look at our previous blog post.
The next priority is to find something worthwhile to do with the time that you had previously dedicated to looking after your kids. It’s a great opportunity to embark on a journey of rediscovery and to seek new pastimes that speak to your soul and make you feel fulfilled.
Finding new things to occupy your time and energy is something you can do with or without your partner. Together, it’s about finding a new, shared interest; but new individual hobbies and activities will also have a positive effect on your home life and relationships. Learning new skills for yourself and uncovering new passions and interests will make you happier and give you a fresh topic of conversation within your relationship.
The good news is there is no shortage to the range of opportunities and activities that are out there for you can embark on, without it taking too much effort (or money). Here are just a few suggestions to get you thinking:
Give timeVolunteering your time to help others is a good way of recreating a sense of purpose and usefulness when your home circumstanes change. As well as sharing the experience you already have, volunteering also offers opportunities to learn new skills, many offer training too.
Health mattersNow is your time – and that means it’s the perfect opportunity to start that healthy eating plan you’ve been talking about for years, and look at an exercise plan to complement your current regime and living habits too.
Get out and aboutIf you've always dreamed of travelling the world – now is the time to do it. Take that trip. Visiting new places broadens the mind and gives you a sense of the wider universe which is great for your mental well-being. It's also great for re-bonding experiences with your partner.
Cook and eatWhen you really think about it, cooking for a family – and kids in particular – is a great lesson in restraint. Picking meals that everyone likes and choosing the ingredients that everyone likes. Now is the time to expand your cooking skills and try new things.
DeclutterWhen your kids are away at college or university, there’s a temptation to keep the house just as it was when they left it. This doesn’t help you to move forward though. Use this time to declutter your home – and your life. We’ve got some great tips on decluttering in our previous blog posts.
As with any new phase in life, it can take time to adjust when your kids leave home. Remember, after so long looking after other people, it’s time to focus on you and give yourself what you need to nourish your body and soul. That can only benefit the rest of your family too…