Empty nest syndrome is usually associated with families whose children leave home togain independence, attend university or get married. But for some parents of boarders, there is a sense of loss when the youngest child goes off to school.
This time of year is typical for feeling that sense of sadness and loss – holidays are over, it’s cold and dark and the house is practically empty. While there are always trips to visit the kids at school and other activities to keep you busy, not all parents enjoy this new opportunity for independence.
In particular, some mothers find the pain of watching a child leave home just as debilitating and as lengthy as bereavement. They question their purpose after spending many years as the primary carer.
Victoria’s Better Health Channel suggests these feelings of anxiety and uncertainty are reminders that your children are growing up and gaining their rightful independence. Some of its ideas for coping include:
- Returning to work
- Taking up a hobby
- Joining a professional association
- Working in your Bucket List
- Preparing a care package to reinforce your nurturing role and surprise your boarder.
If one child has moved out and you still have others living at home, plan in advance for the day when your nest will be empty. Small changes over time can help reduce the shock when your last child moves out and pave the way for an independent life with your spouse or friends. But also be prepared – kids often move back home too!
As empty nest syndrome can lead to depression, if you feel overwhelmed, seek help from a GP or psychologist.