Embracing the empty nest: A new chapter of growth and opportunity
- Mums Tips
- Parenting Skills
- Published on Tuesday, 26 September 2023 11:03
- Last Updated on 22 September 2023
- Monica Costa
- 0 Comments
My 17 year old son is applying to universities and I am wondering how my life will look like once he’ll leave the nest. Waving a child off to university is a bittersweet moment for parents. The sense of pride in seeing them embark on this new adventure is often tinged with a profound feeling of loss. Empty nest syndrome, though not classified as an official mental health issue, is a real and valid experience for many parents. According to a survey by Unite Students, 98% of parents reported feeling ‘extreme grief’ after their first child left for university. It’s essential to acknowledge and navigate these emotions, but also to recognise the incredible opportunities this new chapter presents.
Understanding Empty Nest Syndrome
Empty nest syndrome can trigger a range of emotions, from sadness and depression to anxiety and a deep sense of loss. This is particularly true for parents of only children or when it’s the last child leaving home. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and seek support if they become overwhelming. Reframing this stage of life can be immensely helpful. It’s a testament to your parenting that your child is equipped to face the world on their own.
If feelings of sadness evolve into symptoms of depression, seeking professional help from a counselor can make a significant difference. Talking through your emotions and experiences with a trained professional can provide valuable insights and coping strategies.
It’s natural to worry about your child’s well-being at university. Establishing a communication plan that works for both of you can help alleviate some of this anxiety. Agree on how and how often you’ll communicate, but also make sure your child knows they can reach out whenever they need to. Encourage openness and assure them that seeking support, should they require it, is a sign of strength.
Embracing New Opportunities
With the newfound freedom from day-to-day parental responsibilities, it’s time to rediscover yourself. Take a moment to reflect on the activities and passions you may have set aside over the years. This is your chance to explore new hobbies, engage in self-care, and pursue social activities that bring you joy.
Reconnecting in Relationships
For couples, the empty nest phase offers a unique opportunity to reconnect. Often, the demands of parenting can overshadow the romantic and playful aspects of a relationship. Now is the time to prioritize your partnership, fostering intimacy, friendship, and shared experiences. If you find this transition challenging, seeking guidance from a relationship counselor can be immensely beneficial in reestablishing a strong foundation.
The empty nest phase is a significant milestone, one that comes with a mix of emotions and opportunities for growth. Embrace this new chapter with an open heart, recognizing that it’s a testament to your success as a parent. Seek support when needed, and remember that this phase is a chance to rediscover yourself and deepen your connections with loved ones. Embracing the empty nest can lead to a renewed sense of purpose and fulfillment in this next stage of your life journey.
Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums