Empty Nest: How to Cope With the Transition
As my kids matured and developed I did a bit of mental preparation for the day when they would be ready to fly the nest. I knew this would be a bittersweet experience for me, as it is for many.
It has been six years since my daughter, Kyleigh, left for college, and ten years for my son Zach. Midlife is a busy time. Writing this it seems impossible that it’s been so long. I can now look back and evaluate the whole process I went through as they left home without the intense feelings.
A mix of emotions is typical. You may have been through this yourself, feeling excited for your children to spread their wings and begin their adult lives. Yet at the same time the thoughts of I’m going to miss seeing them daily and did I do a good-enough job may race through your head. I felt happy for each of them and certainly didn’t want to dampen their enthusiasm to venture out into the world. But, what would become of my kids when I wasn’t close by to guide them with my infinite wisdom?
A bit irrational, I know. Melodramatic thoughts are often part of the transition–at least they were for me! A lot of emotions surface with this life change. Guilt, of course, is to be expected. As moms must of us are well-versed at guilt-tripping ourselves.
Don’t should on yourself–I should feel happy or I should have been a better mom or I should have bought her that pony for Christmas even though we lived in town and I could never have afforded to feed it.
This really is a fairly big event in our lives, although we may minimize it at the time.
Change, even the good stuff, brings about stress and a grieving process. Out with the old and in with the new. Be aware of this. A range of emotions, including sadness and anger, is not uncommon. Allow yourself to grieve and be kind to yourself.
It is tough working through what may seem like an emotional roller coaster ride. Share your feelings with the support people in your life. Connect with others who have already launched a child or two, or possibly more. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you feel this transition is causing a lingering sadness. Having your kids leave home can bring on full-blown depression.
Midlife is a time to re-evaluate your relationship with your children. You are not losing them, but things will progressively become different and new. I offer a positive perspective on this in the article My 5 Favorite Things About Parenting Adult Children.
Life is a Book Unwritten and Only You Hold the Pen
Forward–what does life look like once the kids are off on their own adventures? I will rephrase this and put it into a different perspective–what do you want your life to look like heading into the future?
As you heal it is time to start dreaming about redefining your identity. This can be an enlightening time. Being a parent is a huge part of who we are for so many years. We often lose our sense of self throughout the process. And many of us never had it to begin with.
Now’s the time for you. I recommend journaling to help in designing your new life. I found a great article you may find helpful– Self-Discovery Prompts for Your Bullet Journal. Writing helps us sort out and clarify our thoughts. We can then process the ideas and information at a deeper level.
Is there a class you would like to take on painting, yoga, or possibly to start working toward a degree you’ve always wanted? How about turning one of those empty bedrooms into an art studio? Janet, my other half here at Boom2Bloom, trained for and completed a full marathon.
Do you want to travel? Start working on an intention board to make that trip to Paris finally happen. Check out my article here–Create an Intention Board to Manifest Your Dreams.
This is a personal journey–because it is all about you. Therefore, only you can decide how to create this next chapter in midlife. What an exciting and empowering reality!
What has your experience been as your children have left home? Please share your insight in the comments below.
Till next time, Sandra