“The days are long and the years are short”. If you’re in a season that seems to be lasting just a little too long, this may seem cliché. However, the reality is that raising children is a constant ebb and flow as your children develop, grow, and establish their independence.
Your role as a parent is always adjusting to the life stage that your children are in, the adjustment to an empty house can sometimes be the most difficult role stage to navigate.
Dropping off your youngest child at college can bring up feelings of grief. It’s common to feel a sense of loss and anxiety. If your identity has been found in being a mother or father for the last 18 years, what will your identity be now that your child is less dependent? Or perhaps you feel a sense of relief and are baffled as your spouse withdraws. These are all common reactions. The following tips can help you navigate this new stage
1. Remember That You Are Still A Parent
Your child has spread their wings and are seeking to establish themselves apart from their family for the first time. That in no way takes away or diminishes your role as a parent. Your child still needs you. Be present and available for your child as they need you. Your role looks different than in previous seasons, but it will never end.
2. Check In With Your Spouse
Ask your spouse how they are processing the transition. What were their expectations of starting this new season? How are they playing out? Each person will process and experience this season in different ways and at different times. Set aside specific times that you can connect and discuss how things are going.
3. Find A New Purpose
Think back to when your schedule was full of practices and appointments. What were the things that you wanted to do if only you had the time? Volunteer for something that you are passionate about or get a part-time job.
These tips can serve as a great start to navigating this new season. However, sometimes feelings of anxiety and depression persist. That is perfectly normal. Seeking therapy can be a healthy next step for you and your spouse to find healing in transition and adjust to life with an empty nest. Consider scheduling with Dr. Kinga Gudor, Cynthia Gaskins or Megan Lalonde to start your journey today.
For more information on empty nest syndrome, click here.