Some parents breathe a sigh of relief when their last chick leaves the nest – others find it one of the hardest times of their lives.
If you’re part of the latter group and finding it difficult to cope, you’re not alone. When the children start moving out of home permanently, it can be a very challenging time—so much so that “empty nest syndrome” is becoming recognised as a medical condition.
So if you are doing it tough, think about how to replace some of what the children provided the family before they moved on. Two of the usual ‘gaps’ to be filled are emotion and time.
We all know how emotional a teenager’s life can be, and this draws your attention from the broader family life. When your teenager moves out, you may miss the emotional outlet and start refocusing on your own relationship with the rest of the family.
One option is to direct that emotion and attention to yourself. Have you neglected your own identity to become part of your child’s life? Maybe now is the time to reflect and reconnect.
Most children soak up a lot of your time on an everyday basis—driving them from here to there, getting them ready for sports training, tidying their room – the list can be endless! After they’ve gone, you might have more time on your hands than you know what to do with.
What will you do with this freedom? Take up a new hobby? Embark on that round-the-world trip? Or maybe reconnect with some long-lost friends? What about going back to the workforce part-time? The opportunities can be boundless.
Suddenly finding yourself with an empty nest can require a lot of emotional adjustment but it does present you with a chance to refocus your lifestyle and take advantage of your newfound freedom.
www.theaustralian.com.au “DINKS, empty-nesters set to become most common household types in Australia” S Lunn
www.netdoctor.co.uk “Empty-nest syndrome”
Better Health Channel www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au