One of the hardest parts about being a parent is when their children move out and begin a life of their own. Whether their kids are going away to college, beginning a career in another city or state, or simply settling into a new home with a significant other all parents face a sense of loss. They can sometimes feel like they are no longer needed or as important in their children’s lives.
It’s okay to be sad when the kids leave the nest, but life doesn’t actually stop for mom or dad just they suddenly have a different role in the lives of their offspring. There are ways to cope with the change in your relationship, and many things to look forward to ahead.
Take care of yourself first. If you feel depressed or overwhelmed by becoming an empty nester, talk to someone. Whether you have a significant other to turn to, or you confide in a friend, or even seek professional help, it really does make a difference to know you’re not alone in this. Your kids are starting a new chapter in their lives, and so should you. The feelings of loss should ease as you settle into your new norm and your new relationship with your children.
Your relationship is changing, but your kids will always be yours. The worry and the concern will remain, even when they’re out of the house and if you don’t see them as often. They will always be a part of your lives and in your hearts and minds. Keep in touch however you can-whether you call, text, skype, or email. You can always visit, or have them visit you. If you live close enough schedule regular family dinners, either at home or a restaurant. Let them know that it’s still okay to turn to you when they need a sounding board, or advice. You can offer to help them with big “adult” things, like shopping for a car and decorating a new home.
Your future is in your hands. Just because your children don’t live at home anymore doesn’t mean your life is over. Take advantage of your situation to try new things. Make plans to travel somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, but couldn’t manage before because of schedules or budget. Find a new hobby you can share with your spouse, or take a course at a local college. Join a book club. Volunteer. Spend time planning how you will spoil any future grandkids.
Having your children grow up can be harder on the parents than it is for the kids. Remember how big a wreck you were on their first day of school. Hey, you survived that, right? You’ll get through this too. Just hang in there.