We often hear the phrase “oh, they grow up so quickly”, uttered by fond parents, relatives and family friends - but it really is true. While the period it takes for a child to grow up into an adult sounds like a long time in theory, when your kid decides it’s time to move out, you’ll feel like it sped by in a flash. Suddenly, the mouth you had to feed, person to help with their homework, and little one to cuddle at night will be off leading their life somewhere else - which can certainly feel isolating and near depressing at first. Luckily, there are a few ways you can approach this period, commonly known as ‘empty nest syndrome’ and we’re here to share them with you:
1) Have Faith In The Parent-Child Relationship You Have Built
Just because your young one is moving out, it doesn’t mean you are going to be any less close. In fact, you may develop an entirely new and mature element to your relationship. The bottom line is you need to have faith in that strong parent-child relationship that you have undoubtedly formed and developed over the 18 years or more you’ve spent together already.
Catherine Cervasio from AROMABABY Natural Skincare shares her feelings on this matter:
“We have a business in the parenting space, born of becoming a parent over two decades ago; fast forward and as a sole parent (past 10 years) I’m facing the reality of an ‘empty-nest’ fast approaching. Whilst two sons are still officially ‘living at home’, at almost 17 and 23 we are like passing ships in the night. In light of this, my strategy to continue to build strong connections with my sons, mentor and nurture (mostly around meal times) is vital I believe to our ongoing relationship as they eventually leave our family home on a permanent basis.”
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For parents reading this, who still have young children, now is the time to cultivate that strong connection! A great way to do this is to make the effort to try out different activities - this bonds you as you learn to trust and rely on one another, two qualities that are essential for a strong relationship of any kind. Bike trailers are a great option, as you are able to stay attached to your little one while engaging in a fun activity that they are still learning. Plus staying fit with your family is an added bonus!
Even simple activities such as going to the park on a regular basis, or when they are older, heading out for a brunch date as a family, will help you stay updated on what is happening in each other’s lives. For little kids, buying a sand pit provides a great way to spend one-on-one time, chatting and playing simultaneously. So, regardless of their age or interest, find some fitting activities, make them regular and bond away! You’ll find yourself feeling way more secure when they have grown into adults themselves.
2) Have An Active Social Life (Or at least other things going on!)
As easy as it can be to say in theory that relying on the solid foundation you’ve built with your children to get you through signs of empty nest syndrome, it’s not necessarily realistic. You have to remember that this is an adjustment period, and the phase will pass - you just might have to put in a little extra effort to keep busy and keep your mind off it. Having an active social life can consist of different things - you could play a weekly sport at a club, have regular coffee catch ups with friends and family members, or perhaps make an effort to connect with other mums who have been going through similar issues and understand your situation. Beyond just socialising, fill your life with other things! Pick up a new skill (cooking, dancing, dressmaking), whatever takes your fancy! You’ll meet new people and potentially find something you love doing to fill the void a little. Start volunteering, join an organisation committee, travel…. There’s no shortage of things you can do now that you don’t have little ones to care for.
Basically, it’s important to remember that you’ll get through this, and keep yourself from dwelling. Spend your time getting healthy and fit, or on other things that positively benefit you, and you’ll be feeling like your old self in no time at all!