10 Ways to Deal with the Empty Nest Syndrome

The Empty Nest Syndrome is especially challenging for single parents who now have a quiet house. When one has recently gone through a divorce or loss of a spouse, it can be traumatic. Expect to mourn for a loss of what was and may never be again. You may go through the anger and eventually moving on to acceptance. This is the time to reinvent yourself and rediscover long lost passions.

1. Start a group up of other Empty Nesters for support and fun.  Tina, a stay-at-home mom, was bereft when her youngest went off to college. This came about when her oldest son was about to get married and possibly move to another city. She called the mothers of her son’s classmates and formed a group that met once a month.  At first it was for tears, but now it is teas and laughter. They claim that getting together is much cheaper than therapy and full of companionship.

2. Wait and do big projects after your kid goes off to school. This is the time to organize and clean out your basement or garage. I bought some bins and shelves and it is easy to find gardening supplies, holiday items plus much more in my garage now.

3.  Expand your social or professional networks. I joined two Meet.Up.com groups and have coffee or go to events every week. The intelligent women are stimulating and now we are discussing quantum physics over lattes. I am a new member of Toastmasters International to make me a more effective speaker. There are many other groups to choose.

4. Challenge yourself and build self-esteem. Join an Outward Bound Expedition in your own back yard or across the globe.  UK charities in particular have fundraisers in far flung places. One charity had a trek up Mt Kilimanjaro and several women raved how that boosted their self-esteem and independence post-divorce. Other charities have had hikes in Vietnam, Costa Rica, and other exotic locales.

5.  Start back to school for pleasure courses (cooking) or to advance your career. I am currently taking a computer course at our community college. One woman went back to school for her teaching degree just as her youngest was leaving for college.  She claimed that she barely had time to think about having an Empty Nest.

6.  Have a foreign exchange student live with you for a few months or even a year. You have someone there who needs your maternal advice and care. You will learn about their culture and may end up with another family member for life.  One mother said after all of the lunches and laundry, this kid will be in her life forever. She has made several trips to Italy and stayed with his family.

7.  Start an exercise program. The boost in endorphins will be an added benefit to your fit body.

8.  Take a trip with a spouse or your pals.  It could be the European river cruise that you’ve dreamed of or a spa weekend with the girls. This is the time to visit your college roommate or other friends.  They may be facing the same challenge as you.

9.  Schedule something fun for immediately after your child leaves.  I had a pampering facial just hours after mine left. The next morning a friend met me for lattes and another friend for a movie later. It is easier if you have something fun to look forward to at least for a few days.

10. Volunteer and give something back to others. This helps you to be less focused on yourself and your own misery. I started volunteering for a cat rescue group right before my son left for college. On Tuesdays I clean, cuddle and feed the kitties and feel so happy and energized afterwards. Another Empty Nester volunteers at the community garden. You could also foster dogs or cats in your home.