7 Tips for Parents Coping With an Empty Nest

The day your last or only child leaves the family nest to go to college or live on their own is an emotional one. Even those who thought they would be excited to be empty nesters have feelings of loneliness, rejection, and a loss of purpose. These symptoms are mostly temporary, but in some cases they may be a sign of a bigger issue — empty nest syndrome. If you or someone you know is having a hard time coping with the realities of an empty nest, check out these seven tips to boost your spirits and make this new stage of life a little easier.

  1. Stay occupied:

    It’s perfectly OK to be sad or reminisce after your kid leaves the nest, but at some point you have to move on and cheer up for everyone’s sake. Whether you are a stay-at-home mother or father or a full-time worker, it’s important to stay occupied when your child leaves home. For some parents this means going back to work or volunteering, and for others it may mean spending time with friends or joining a club.

  2. Take a vacation:

    The act of moving your last or only child off to college is mentally and physically exhausting. Do yourself a favor and take a vacation alone or with your spouse or friends to clear your mind and reward yourself for a parenting job well done.

  3. Keep in contact with your kids:

    Thanks to today’s awesome technology, you can keep in close contact with your kids on a regular basis. The idea of being an empty nester is much less scary when you know you can call, text, e-mail, or video chat with your child whenever you want.

  4. Pursue new hobbies:

    Now that your kids are out of the house, you will have more time to pursue new hobbies and interests that you didn’t have time for before. Maybe you want to take up piano lessons, gardening, or painting, or maybe you’d like to relearn an old hobby. Either way, a new hobby or interest will keep your mind occupied and give you a positive outlet for your emotions.

  5. Discuss your grief with others:

    If you’re overwhelmed, unhappy, and having a hard time adjusting to the empty nest, you should share your feelings with others. Talk to your spouse, family members, or friends. Chances are they’ve been through it before and can share some helpful advice. If symptoms persist, you should seek professional help.

  6. Spend time with loved ones:

    A good way to ease the sadness of becoming an empty nester is to spend time with your loved ones. This is a great opportunity to bring some spark back into your marriage, catch up with friends, and spend quality time with anyone you’ve lost touch with over the years. This is a positive and productive way to occupy your time.

  7. Keep a journal:

    As you go through this difficult time, it’s a good idea to record your thoughts and feelings. Journaling is a therapeutic way to relieve stress and anxiety and make you more aware of your emotions and behaviors. For best results, keep a journal by your bed and write in it on a daily basis.