Empty Nest; What to do When the Kids Leave Home

Learn How to Cope

When the kids grow up, they leave us, and we have to learn to cope.
When the kids grow up, they leave us, and we have to learn to cope. | Source

It Can Be Depressing at First

What is the Empty Nest Syndrome (ENS)?

It’s a lifestyle change, when a person no longer has dependents to care for and they have too much time on their hands. Empty nest syndrome symptoms: they miss taking care of and nurturing someone else. It can be a real problem when some think of what to do when the kids leave home.

Some parents do just fine and find other things to fill their time with. But, some have a stronger need to nurture than others do, and a hobby just isn’t good enough. People, both men and women, do all kinds of things to reduce their empty nest depression.

Ruthie M. in Portland says when the house sold, she and her five grown children moved out on the same day (each going a different direction), and the next day her 14 year-old dog died after a long battle with bone cancer. She was in a new but empty home, and suddenly more alone than anyone suspected.

Michael P. in Lake Oswego is a single parent. His three children all left for college and he found gardening, and although it’s therapeutic, it’s seasonal and weather permitting, at best. His yard wasn’t that big, either, so when it was all done it looked great and he was, well, done.

Empty nest syndrome can cause or exacerbate depression and some people take mild medication to get them through for a time. It makes these people feel like they have less value to others. There’s nobody to take care of, it feels as if nobody needs the person anymore, and there‘s nobody to be thankful for something they‘ve done. They feel lonely.

Empty Nesters Find Relief

Many empty nest moms and dads get a new pet. A new pet, especially a baby animal, needs lots of care and teaching to raise up, and it completely takes away the ENS. Many retired people have pets they treat like children, and it’s a win/win situation for the pet and the people.

Another good way to deal with empty nest syndrome is to begin a new hobby that takes hours to complete, like ceramics, or painting. Filling empty hours with an enjoyable activity can pass a lot of time quickly.

Also, working with the hands gives the mind ample time to run wild, and lots of people are able to think things out more clearly when their hands are busy. It’s a good time to come up with new ideas, explore thoughts on a new planned experience, and focus on the present.

Coping With ENS

There’s always the possibility of redecorating the newly emptied rooms, too - or the entire house. This is the perfect time for regrouping, making new atmospheres in the home and doing something that may be pleasing to others at the same time. Marylou B. knocked out the wall between two bedrooms, making her room huge, and then she redecorated it as one large room.

Unless the parents are subsidizing the children during college, which many parents do, the money that no longer needs to go to groceries, higher utility bills and gas can now be spent on other things.

Sandy B. takes the difference from what her heating bill used to be and what it is post five live-at-home-children, and saves it each month until she has enough to go somewhere. She travels on the money they can now spend freely, instead of buying all the needs for the kids. And her favorite thing? They can afford to eat fish and other expensive favorites, now.

Cooking is another favorite hobby of some. Cooking can be done any time of day, any day of the week, even in the wee hours of the night, if wanted. There’s nobody at home to eat all that good cooking? Tons of shelters and food banks appreciate donations. Jeff K. makes tin pans of delicious meals like scalloped potatoes and home-style macaroni and cheese, and he donates them frozen to the food banks once a week.

Start an Empty Nester’s Club

Having parties is another way to pass time. Obviously, one can’t have a party every day, or even every week. But, it’s easy to have people over for dinner once or twice a week. Planning and cooking can help to pass time for a favorite activity, and everyone gathers together for the tasty experience.

Helping out in a local classroom is not only fulfilling, it’s important work. Teachers have huge classrooms now, and the more help they can get, the better. Volunteer to help in a kindergarten class, or even in a class for challenged students. This kind of help is not only needed, but it’s essential, and there aren’t enough volunteers to go around.

They call our later years in life the Golden Years because it’s when we can really enjoy life. No children, hopefully lots of grand children are about, and there’s nothing tying a person down. It’s a great time to do things that have always been on the back burner.

Don’t look at ENS as an unsolvable problem. As you’ve just read, it can be dealt with in a number of ways, each making us more well-rounded people who enjoy life better. Use the time to improve on things, start on that bucket list, and make things just the way you like.

And, enjoy life.

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Got Any ENS Ideas for Us? How do YOU cope? 3 comments

Rusti Mccollum profile image

Rusti Mccollum 4 years ago from Lake Oswego, Oregon

I only have Jeffie left,then it will be marc, you mike and myself.I can't bear the thought of him leaving.We'll vacation how's that?LOVED this hub.I am married to Sandy's husband's brother and when they get stressed, Marc like to work in the yard. Must be genetic lol I loved it.voted it up.

SandyMcCollum profile image

SandyMcCollum 4 years ago Author

I hear you! Thus I blog, that's cute....

Tams R profile image

Tams R 4 years ago from Missouri

I've only one child left at home and he's 14. Two daughters have moved out in the past year and it's very quiet. ENS seemed like a fallacy before but is becoming a depressing reality for me, thus I blog!

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