The transition of the Empty Nest
I clearly remember the day my youngest child left for university. I cried most of the way home after dropping him off! Making the transition from full-time mum to an empty nest was a really challenging one for me. I remember afterwards I would wistfully watch parents with younger children and yearn to have that time back again. The house felt noticeably quiet and the loss of the mum role that I had been living full-time for the last 20 years was a big one for me.
For those of you experiencing the empty nest this September, it is probably even more of a challenge. Parents are having to deal with the added worry and uncertainty that the pandemic has brought to all our lives. Many students are locked down on campus and unable to return home. Parents are unable to visit and reassure themselves that their child is settling into their new life at uni. It also means that plans you might have had to help your transition to having an empty nest have had to be put on hold.
In this situation communication and trust are going to be key as you move through this transition. Allowing your child to become independent while also making sure they are looking after themselves and thriving is a balancing act. I’m sure all parents discussed Covid safety measures with their child before they left. Now it’s a case of having to trust that they can be responsible for their own health and wellbeing. Keeping in regular touch is going to help with this. If you didn’t discuss how you were going to stay in touch before they left, it’s probably a good idea to have that conversation with them now. Technology means that keeping in touch has never been easier. By agreeing the type of communication that works for both of you is a good starting place.
The Empty Nest Syndrome is recognised as a loss that can generate feelings of grief, so if you have been feeling sad and lost this is a normal and natural reaction to this big life change. Now is the time to be kind to yourself and allow yourself the time to adjust to your child living away from home. Try not to isolate yourself. Reach out to close family and friends and share how you are feeling with them. There are many forums online where you could also share how you are feeling. Set yourself a new routine as soon as possible, maybe learn new skills or do some voluntary work
Looking at what has been most difficult for you to adjust to may help you devise actions to help you move past the pain you are feeling. Taking action will also help you feel more in control of the situation.
Most transitions are like crossing a bridge. At the entry to the transition bridge there is an ending which can bring with it uncertainty and feelings of loss. As you approach the middle of the bridge you might feel confused, that you have lost direction or maybe even resistant to the change. Once you have crossed the bridge you will have regained your sense of direction as you begin to adapt to your new normal. If you have found yourself stuck in the middle of this bridge now your child has left home, book a free Discovery Session with me. We can have a chat about how you can make the most of this new chapter of your life.