It is natural for parents to devote so much of their lives to their children that they forget how to be themselves. They sacrifice so much that they start to have feelings of loneliness and emptiness when their children leave the nest.
Tip # 1 – Accept the inevitable
You know it’s not going to be easy to say goodbye to your kids and let them venture out into the world. One of the best things you can do is to learn how to accept this phase of life. You know you will miss the kids and you may find yourself spending time in their old room to feel close to them. The first 30 days are going to be the hardest. Knowing this ahead of time can help you prepare for it a little bit. Spend time creating a calendar of things that will keep you busy. When you start to feel yourself dipping into depression, head to the gym. You need to keep your mind off the sorrow and sadness as much as possible. Learn how to accept that your children are grown up and they have new lives. You are still going to be involved in their lives, just not the same way you used to be. The sooner you can learn to accept this, the easier it will be to push through the depression.
Tip # 2 – Recognize it
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to recognize that you are feeling sad and depressed. You will find that the majority of your conversations are going to be about your kids. Missing your children is completely natural and normal. Recognize that you miss them and try to find other things to do so you aren’t consumed by your feelings of loneliness. If your depression is starting to consume you, make an appointment to speak to a therapist. They can help you find ways to work through your depression. It may take awhile, but in time you will be able to feel like a happy, loving person again. Listen to your spouse, they are your best judge and they will certainly tell you if they notice you are acting depressed and if you should seek advice. Depression hurts you and everyone around you. Instead of dragging your spouse down with you, make time to do other things that will uplift you and remind you that life is fun and it’s enjoyable.
Tip # 3 – Splurge
Since you have spent all your time sacrificing for your kids, now is the time for you and your spouse to splurge a little bit. Don’t feel guilty about being selfish a little bit. Head out to the movies instead of waiting for it to come via Netflix. Make an impromptu vacation out of an otherwise dull weekend. Do things that you wouldn’t do before because you were too scared to splurge financially or because you didn’t feel right about it because of the kids.
Tip # 4 – Fill your time
One of the best things to do is to get some hobbies and other activities to fill your time. Did you finish your degree? How about heading back to school to finish? What about signing up for some classes just for fun? Fill up your schedule so you don’t find yourself sitting around your home crying all the time because you miss your kids.
Tip # 5 – Do it together
Empty nest syndrome is hard on mom and dad, not just one person. You don’t have to do through the dark shadows of depression alone. Ask your spouse to help you along the way. Find a support group or create one of your own. Seek out a professional if you need it to help you learn how to cope with your new life.