The Empty Nest Syndrome, New Beginnings For You and Your Child, How to Cope
Eventually the birds will leave the nest...
From the day they find out they are expecting, mother's maternal protection mode kicks in. They protect the unborn by eating well, changing their lifestyles, and getting plenty of rest. Their body and mind is no longer their own. It is shared with the thoughts and concerns for the baby. Once the child is born, there is even more adjustments. Adjusting to the lack of sleep and the 24/7 care of another and putting their own needs aside. Add into the mix, a relationship and possibly a few more children and a career. Women can adjust and take on many tasks and even learn how to take care of herself, her family, her relationship, the house, the animals, the career and the list goes on and on.....
Even when the children get old enough to drive and go out at night, a Mother still sleeps with one eye open until she knows all the children are in the nest. Then all of a sudden one day, when she blinks her eyes, the nest starts to become empty and quiet and the adjustment in reverse isn't as easy. It is not that easy to adjust to realizing your children are now adults and have to fly on their own.
Of course we have to nurture and protect them but it is our job to help them go out into the world on their own. Training to leave the nest actually starts when you first let go of their hands and let them walk a few steps on their own, leave them for the first time at daycare, pre-school, kindergarten, first time on the bus etc.
Leaving the Nest
Everyone warns you to prepare
In the back of your mind you always know that one day the children will all grow up and leave the house. You think you have all this time and before you know it the last one has one foot out the door.
Empty-Nest Syndrome sets in....
Empty-nest syndrome is a name given to a psychological condition that can affect both parents, mostly commonly mother's, when the children leave home. Of course it is normal to feel a sense of sadness but many people experience a severe sense of loss, depression and anxiety. I personally felt this the most when my second son left for college this past Fall. I cried for days and yet I still had my third son at home attending a two year college close to home before he too goes away to college (so stay tuned).
I cried when I drove through town and didn't see him skateboarding up the street with his friends, I cried when I locked the door at night and his car wasn't in the driveway, and I cried every time I walked passed his room and saw his bed empty. I had thought I had prepared myself for this moment for years. I have encouraged all my sons to go away to school to get a good education. I just didn't expect it to hit me the way it did. This severe feeling of emptiness lasted for a few weeks when I realized that I had to "get a grip" and move on and accept this as another stage of life.
New Beginning for everyone
Like I mentioned earlier, it is normal to feel a sense of sadness but actually it is best to look at this transition as a "new beginning". Going away to college, getting married or moving out on their own is an exciting time for them and you. Your children never leave you. Things just change and again you have to adjust.
Ways to cope with the new changes
There are many things you can do for yourself at this time. Get together with friends, join a club, take up a hobby of something you have always been interested in but never had the time, take a college course....just reconnect with yourself. This is also a new beginning for you. Once I made the adjustment, there was no holding me back! I took up enjoying photography, blogging, looking into college courses and reconnecting with myself. Also, I forgot about Winter, Spring and Summer breaks! This past Winter vacation I had all my birds back in the nest for a few weeks and just enjoyed the moments.
Links for more information and help
- The End of Empty Nest Syndrome - Oprah.com
Good news for any mother dreading the empty nest: A little bird told us it's not so bad.
- Empty nest syndrome | Better Health Channel
Empty nest syndrome refers to the grief that many parents feel when their children move out of home. This condition is typically more common in women, who are more likely to have had the role of primary carer. The feelings of grief can coincide with