Coping With Empty Nest Syndrome

when the kids leave the nest

By:  Dr. Ann Gatty

One of the most difficult life transitions for women who are moms is dealing with an empty nest.  When the children leave home.  

As the children mature and enter their final years of high school, you may be aware that this time is fast approaching, but it may not sink in until they actually pack their bags and leave.  

The emotional feelings can catch you off guard.  Suddenly, there seems to be so much extra space, both in your home and in your heart—and yet, it seemed only yesterday, these spaces were fully occupied.  This time of transition often brings with it waves of sadness and some loneliness.

The year before my youngest son left for college, I became acutely aware of the impending separation.  However, the family was so busy, that the time flew by.  

Related: Three "Things" to Send with Your Daughter to College 

I was busy attending all of the school year activities, keeping up with laundry, preparing meals on the fly, and managing business clients.  For 20 years, I have been a mom first, raising two boys while keeping the house in order.  

My career, although important, was secondary to being a mom.  So, facing an empty nest was a challenge.  And to deal with this major life change, I had to make some major changes in my daily routine.

I decided to use this transition into the empty nest to begin investing time in activities that my previous “mom schedule” did not allow.  Without the responsibilities of daily care for children, there are extra hours in the day to grow and expand my horizons in different ways.  Dealing with an empty nest has inspired me to shift my focus and consider alternative opportunities.  I decided to shift my business consulting career emphasis to focus more specifically on women like me.  

Women in transition.

With these extra hours, I had time to learn about website design and social media.  Next, I embarked on building a website that I author each day.  It has grown over the last 3 years, and I have enjoyed sharing advice with other women embarking on new careers, new families and new life transitions.  

Related: How to Make Other Mom Friends 

My advice about dealing with a major life change is that you do not allow yourself to become a victim of the situation, but rather become a victor.  Although one chapter of your life has ended, the wisdom and perspectives that you have gained from this time can be very useful as you embark on your next life chapter.  

Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of an empty home with less interaction and time commitments for you, find a meaningful use for those extra available hours that can be enriching for your mind and nourishing for your spirit.

 It may be spending more time with aging parents, establishing a new relationship, reconnecting with old friends, or pursuing a new hobby.

This is a time of growth for both parent and child.  The child is entering the stage of adulthood, and you are allowing yourself to explore the next stage of your life.

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Dr. Ann Gatty coaches individuals in stress management strategies and building life transitions to balance personal and professional goals.  Visit her website, to learn more about stress management tools, stress reducing tips, and information to help women, moms and teens effectively manage their daily stressors so that they can reach their full potential in their personal and professional lives.

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