Empty nest syndrome is common among parents. For the last eighteen years or more, your primary role has been to take care of your child; you can’t help but feel depressed, lonely, and uncertain of your role now that your child has officially moved out.
In 2018 alone, nearly 17 million undergraduate students bid their parents adieu as they moved into their college dorm for the first time. However, the feelings associated with empty nest syndrome can also happen when your child simply moves out for what appears to be the last time. And empty nest syndrome doesn’t discriminate: even celebrities suffer like Gordon Ramsay from the pain of a child moving out.
This change in family dynamic hits hard but, luckily, there are some ways to cope. Here are some of the best ways to help you deal with empty nest syndrome.
Start prepping in advance
If you know a big move is coming soon, the best thing you can do is start accepting this fact early. Rather than putting off these emotions until the day arrives, you can engage in activities without your child and imagine life without them at home to help you prepare yourself emotionally. It’s recommended that you start preparing for the big day months in advance.
When the week finally arrives, be sure to make a schedule of events you can do in the following week. It’s common to need some time to adjust, but filling your days and evenings with activities, meetups, and social outings can help you reclaim your life and home as an individual, not as a parent.
Downsize to a smaller home
It’s common for empty nesters to feel like their home is lonely and too-big after your last child moves away from home. If you still feel this way months or even years following the big move, you might want to consider moving into a smaller home that feels less, well, empty. After all, there’s no harm in filling out a free rental application or two.
This is the perfect opportunity to reclaim a new space where you can build a home as an individual, or as a couple with your partner. And this leads us to our next point.
Focus on strengthening your other relationships
Regardless of whether you’re strengthening the relationship between you and your partner, you and your friends, or even you and yourself, putting your energy into other relationships can help you reclaim a social circle and sense of interconnectedness.
It helps to keep in mind that your partner is likely also experiencing issues with empty nest syndrome. Don’t hesitate to engage in new activities and challenges with your partner now that you have time to spend with each other again.
Remember that your child is still yours
Even though your child moved out of your home, this doesn’t mean you cannot maintain a strong relationship with them.
If your child lives nearby, think about setting up a weekly game night or dinner event to play catch up. Though it may be difficult to transition into seeing your child as an adult, this is a healthy — and necessary — next step in both of your lives.
Empty nest syndrome is tough, and remember that you can always rely on a therapist for help. It hurts, but this life transition will happen sooner or later. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by your child’s big move, remember that there are ways to help yourself cope with it.