Empty nest syndrome occurs in some parents when the last of their children finally move out. Or, more nicely phrased, when they gracefully spread their wings and fly. While some people embrace their new “empty nest,” others have trouble coping with a quiet house. When someone experiences difficulty in this transitional period, it’s known as empty nest syndrome.
After all, you’ve been a parent for years. Now that your children are living on their own, outside the realm of your constant care, it can be overwhelming to cope with this major life transition as you reclaim your home as your own or struggle to find a new routine without any children to say goodbye to as you run out the door.
It’s a bittersweet time for many parents.
If you’re struggling to cope with the ins and outs of empty nest syndrome, here are some tips and tricks to regain your freedom and look at this transition as a time of opportunity.
Your home is officially your own again and that means you have complete control over what it looks like and how you use it. This is a great opportunity to reclaim old spaces or install new features you’ve always wanted, such as a home office, a study, or a studio. Even though it’s tempting to preserve your child’s old bedroom, you will feel great engaging with new passions and revitalizing a space.
This will be easier than ever now that you’re not paying for extra mouths to feed. After a few months of living in an empty nest, it’s likely that you’ll have some spare money to make those necessary home upgrades, including a quartz countertop that can last for decades with little maintenance required. Making smart investments like this can breathe new life into your home and assure it will last for years to come.
You should also use this opportunity to indulge in necessary home repairs that you’ve been putting off. It might not seem like a huge deal, but if the windows on your home were installed in the mid-1990s (perhaps when your children were born), it’s time for a replacement. These single-pane options are highly inefficient and could be sneakily boosting your heating and cooling costs as well as the noise in your home. Installing new, energy-efficient windows can lower costs by up to 15% in some cases.
This goes for single people and married couples alike: dating is an essential part of keeping the romance alive. Now that you have an empty nest, this is the perfect time to restrengthen bonds between partners or begin entertaining in your own space again.
Essayist Ann Leary initially dreaded an empty nest before this transition allowed her to realize the value in her relationship again.
“I really dreaded the empty nest. I dreaded it. And I can’t even tell you how much we love our empty nest. It is like a hedonist temple. We walk around in our underwear because there’s nobody there to be disgusted by us. We eat while we’re watching TV. All the things we didn’t do because we tried so hard to set a good example. Now we’re like we were when we first met. Just, we didn’t care. And it’s really fun,” she wrote.
This time of your life is a great opportunity to spread your own wings and experiment with different activities and new people. It’s thought among people over the age of 50 that your smile is one of the features that remains the most attractive as you age and nearly 100% of people believe a healthy smile is socially important. So smile, and don’t be afraid to get back out there, whether you’re dating your long-term partner or someone new.
You’ll likely have ample free time once your kids fly the coop. As such, this is the perfect chance to reengage with old hobbies or take up a couple new ones. Try your hand at painting or reread some of your favorite books gathering dust on the shelf. Everything that you had to forgo because of childrearing can finally take its place back on your to-do list. Don’t hesitate to try new things outside your comfort zone to mix up your daily routine.
Beating empty nest syndrome isn’t easy, but these tips and tricks will help make the transition a little easier. Take it from a couple who became empty nesters six months ago:
“When you have kids you get distracted from your marriage because life is so busy between sports and school. You don’t really think of yourselves apart from the whole family conglomeration and then when your children leave it’s like, ‘Oh, Hello,'” notes Barbara Silverstein of Toronto in an interview with her and her husband, Alan.
Find enjoyment in the transition where you can and don’t be afraid to reach out to your kids when you’re feeling lonely. After all, it isn’t a goodbye when they leave the nest; it’s just a new way of living.