There are some things you can do to help get through this new phase in life.
Identify Your Roles
Nothing is as important as the role of parent. You will still carry that label proudly; kids just won’t be at the forefront anymore.
Other things you can do are volunteering, be a generous neighbor or become a community member.
Now that you have more time on your hands, you can explore activities to give you meaning and purpose.
Reconnect With Your Partner
Identify new roles to fill during this time. First and foremost, if you are married or in a relationship, be a spouse. Put your spouse first. It will be a transition to rekindle your marriage and reprioritize. Transition from mom to a woman in love with her husband or vice versa. Don’t reclaim or rekindle the past, look toward the future. Remember life before kids and why you fell in love and make new memories.
Travel, date again (this time without a babysitter), cook or eat out where and what you want (without worry of a picky eater).
It will take some effort to figure out what activities you enjoy together, but it will be worth it. WE enjoy traveling (mostly to Mesquite, NV) and going for a drive in the truck. I take along my camera and John takes me where I want to go. Sometimes he has something in mind and likes to surprise me. Our puppies are starting to get old, but we take them for a run at the lakes in the summer.
Reconnect With Yourself
What are your hobbies? What did you enjoy before kids took over your life? Now you have time to go for a walk, read, paint, craft, exercise...anything you set aside when you were busy raising a family. Better yet, try something new. It is a great time to explore your interests.
Resist Checking In Too Much
Don’t always monitor their social media accounts. Don’t tell them how to live their lives DO let them leave the nest and explore life on their own. Let them grow and become independent.
You should check in on their well being, but give them privacy. Be there for advice, but let them make mistakes.
The more we told our boys how they should live their life, the more we pushed them away. It also took a strain on our marriage. When we shut up and let them make mistakes and live life on their own, they could call for advice. We talked with them and not at them. We shared our mistakes growing up and what we would do if we were in their shoes, but they made the decisions that were best for them at the time. It also brought us closer as a family.
Remember to let them know they are doing great and to encourage them. We all make mistakes and life is hard. We all are trying to find our way and do the best we can.
A Word From Verywell
No matter what you do to shift your focus from your empty nest, it won’t change initial feelings of sadness. You need to grieve what you’ve lost. One phase of your life is over. Your children are no longer living at home and time has likely passed by faster than you ever imagined.
Coming to terms with this new phase in your life can be tough. But most parents find they’re able to adjust to their new roles and they develop a new sense of normal. If you find that empty nest syndrome is getting worse, instead of better, or it doesn’t resolve within a couple of months, talk to a mental health professional. Your feelings of loneliness or emptiness may require treatment.