Lifestyle

5/17/2022 | By Charlie Fletcher

You step into a new stage of life when the last child leaves home. You may have been looking forward to the more relaxed pace, but the change can be challenging to navigate, so we offer tips for coping with empty nest syndrome.

Parenting is one of the most fulfilling, meaningful, and important things you’ll ever do. Whether you had one child or five, those years of caring for little ones, driving to baseball games and dance recitals, and watching them go through school pass by all too quickly.

If all of your children are grown and have moved out on their own, you might find yourself coping with empty nest syndrome. Obviously, it’s every parent’s goal for their children to be independent and successful, but that doesn’t always make it easier when they fly from home.

So, what can you do to manage the grief of your children leaving? How can you deal with that kind of change and loss in healthy ways? Let’s cover a few ideas that can help.

Coping with empty nest syndrome

1. Rediscover your identity

From the moment your child was born to the moment they moved out, your identity has likely been rooted in being their parent. They always came first, and that’s not a bad thing.

However, you might’ve lost a bit of your own identity along the way.

Now is the time to rediscover who you really are, and who you want to be for the rest of your life. One of the easiest ways to get started is to turn your home into your personal space. Choose a new decor style that fits your personality. Change the color scheme. Make things as comfortable as possible. Even small changes around your house can make it feel more like home once your kids are gone.

2. Dive into interests

Another way to rediscover yourself is to take up old hobbies or interests. What did you enjoy doing before you had kids? If your tastes have changed, consider trying something new. Hobbies are important. Not only will they keep you active, but they can reduce stress and provide a healthy distraction.

Man Working In Raised Bed Garden Photo By Katie Nesling Dreamstime. Benefits of gardening for seniors include exercise, vitamin D production, stress reduction, relaxation from serotonin and dopamine, and more.

Not sure what you might like to do? Try some of the following ideas for stress-reducing hobbies that could become your new favorite way to spend your free time.

  • Gardening
  • Journaling
  • Reading
  • Dancing
  • Cooking or baking

Don’t be afraid to try several different hobbies so you can find something you’re truly passionate about.

3. Declutter and organize

Speaking of reducing stress, another great way to reduce the stress of coping with empty nest syndrome it is by decluttering and organizing your home.

You probably have a lot of “stuff” that’s built up over the years. From kids’ sports equipment and trophies to toys, games, and so much more, now is a good time to declutter and start fresh. Cleaning up storage areas of your home can make your space feel new. It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. Keep these tips in mind to make it easier:

  • Sort items by category
  • Label everything
  • Install vertical shelves for organization
  • Use large plastic containers
  • Make a map of your storage space

Not only will cleaning and organizing make things feel fresher, but you can decide if there are items you should get rid of, donate, or pass on to your grown kids.

4. Adopt a four-legged friend

Man enjoying the benefits of dogs for seniors

Having a pet isn’t for everyone, but if you’re an animal lover, now might be a perfect time to adopt a dog or cat. You likely have more free time to take care of them, and they can add new life to your home if you’re feeling a sense of loss.

There are countless benefits to owning a pet. Having a dog, for example, can relieve stress, help you to stay active, and can boost your mood. They also can improve your social life, which is often a big plus for seniors who might not get out much otherwise. While owning a pet can take a lot of time and dedication, it will also serve as a good distraction and a way to occupy your time, so you’re not dwelling on negative feelings.

5. Lean on your support system

Older couple drinking tea on the porch. image by photographerlondon dreamstime. When your last child leaves home, the life change can be challenging to navigate. We offer tips for coping with empty nest syndrome.

It’s important to remember that you’re not alone when you’re coping with empty nest syndrome.

If you’re married, lean on your spouse during this time. They’re going through the same thing, and that kind of understanding can make it easier for the two of you to cope together. Share what you’re feeling, and listen to their struggles, too. Being open about your emotions is a great way to start healing and moving forward.

Additionally, don’t hesitate to reach out to family members or friends for support. Remember that you have a circle of people around you ready to help and be there for you when you need it most. Don’t isolate yourself or withdraw from the people you love. The more time you spend with them, the better.

It’s never easy to watch your child leave the nest, no matter how proud of them you are. However, you’ll have a better time coping by using some of these suggestions and stepping into this new chapter in your life with an open mind.

Charlie Fletcher