Tips for Overcoming Empty Nest Syndrome

Cardinal Financial September 27, 2022 | 5 min read
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Fall is the season of change. If your kid just left the nest for college or the next step in their career, this might be a strange time of readjustment in your household. Even if you still have other kids at home, it’s a shift in the family dynamic that can take some getting used to. Right about now, empty nest syndrome may be kicking in. So, what can you do about it?

5 tips for navigating empty nest syndrome

  • Take up a new hobby
  • Reconnect with your social circle
  • Tackle projects around the house
  • Make plans for the future
  • Practice self-care

Before we dive deeper into this list, let’s nail down what empty nest syndrome is.

What exactly is empty nest syndrome?

For the past 18 years, you’ve watched your kid grow. This is your baby. Goodbyes are already tough—now combine that with your home feeling emptier and it’s an even stronger emotion.

Psychology Today said it best: “Empty nest syndrome is not a clinical diagnosis, but rather describes a transition period in which many people experience feelings of loneliness or loss. While many parents encourage their children to become independent adults, the experience of sending children off into the world can be a painful one.”

You’ll always be their parent, but that role looks different when they become independent young adults. This means navigating just how involved you should be in their life. How often do you check in with them? Do you wait for them to call you first? How many phone calls and texts is too many? You’ll have to ask yourself these questions and decide what works best for your relationship with your adult children.

While your kid is off becoming a person, this is also a period of learning more about yourself. Believe it or not, you’ve changed a lot since before you became a parent. Remember all those times you complained that you couldn’t get five minutes to yourself? Well, now you’ve got time! What will you do with it? After all that parenting, you may just want to enjoy the chance to do nothing. We support it.

Ways to cope with empty nest syndrome

Admit what you’re feeling—don’t try to minimize or ignore it, but give your kid space. They’ll have a much harder time learning to make their own decisions if you’re constantly checking up on them, doing everything for them, and asking them if they need anything. You mean well, but even good intentions can have adverse effects. Give them the tools they need to make mistakes on their own while they still have your safety net to fall back on when they need it. And as for you, try these five tactics to make this transition a smooth one.

Take up a new hobby

So many new hobbies have cropped up since you became a parent, and now you have time to try them! From ceramics class to bodybuilding, the world is your oyster. And the best part about hobbies? You don’t have to be good at them. It’s all about trying something new and embracing the process.

Reconnect with your social circle

It can be a challenge to juggle your kid’s social life and your own. But with an empty nest, you no longer have to balance the two. From spending more time with the people you’ve always wished you saw more of to making new connections, stronger friendships are one of the best upsides to your kid’s independence.

Tackle projects around the house

Sometimes, kids are why we can’t have nice things. With your space serving different functions in their absence, now could be a great time to tackle those projects you’ve been wanting to do around the house. Need some inspo? We thought you’d never ask!

Make plans for the future

Whether it’s a trip you’ve always wanted to take or an activity you’ve always wanted to try, one of the best ways to ease your nostalgia is to make plans for the future. Instead of getting hung up on the way things used to be, give yourself things to look forward to. The next time you see your kids, you’ll both have exciting new experiences to share.

Practice self-care

When you’re parenting full-time, your kid is your priority. Now that they’re out in the world learning how to take care of themselves, you’ve got more opportunities to take care of yourself, too. Self-care looks different for everyone, and it doesn’t have to involve massive lifestyle changes. Indulging in a pour-over coffee setup that you didn’t have time for in the morning rush to school? That’s self-care. Going to bed early because you’re not waiting up to make sure your kid gets home safe? That’s self-care. Figure out what you enjoy, and enjoy it. Simple as that.

What if I don’t have empty nest syndrome?

There’s nothing wrong with feeling happy about your empty nest. Parenting is hard work. That doesn’t go away when your kid leaves the house, so it’s completely valid to embrace and enjoy the change of pace while you can. They’ll be home for Thanksgiving before you know it, anyway.

Your kid will be home for the holidays before you know it. In the meantime, try our tips for navigating empty nest syndrome.

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