empty nest syndrome

Posted : October 3, 2003
Last Updated : August 23, 2018

empty nest syndrome

As you send your child off to start his freshman year of college, you will probably begin experiencing mixed emotions related to the empty nest syndrome. On one hand, you are excited that your child is experiencing new activities and becoming more independent. On the other hand, you're sad because you miss having him around on an everyday basis. These mixed emotions are very common for parents to experience, especially if this is the first child you have sent off to college. To overcome the empty nest syndrome, take the following tips into consideration:

Try a new hobby.

Use the extra time that you used to spend taking your child to football practice or to school plays to learn a new hobby. Have you always been interested in learning how to fly a plane? Start taking lessons. Do you enjoy watching sports but have never had the time to actually play? Join a community team or play your favorite sport with your friends. Using the extra time that you now have to do something you enjoy will help take your mind off missing your child.


Your child is experiencing a different place, why shouldn't you? Grab your significant other or your best friend and visit a place that you have never been before. Have you always wanted to see Italy? Now is the time to go. Don't want to go that far? Drive to a city nearby and check out its historical sites.

Take a college course.

Your child isn't the only one who could be going to college. Maybe you have been thinking about going back to school to finish your degree or begin a new career path. If so, this would be the perfect opportunity to go since you may have more time on your hands. Maybe you would just like to enroll in a couple of classes that seem interesting, but you don't want to invest that much time into getting a degree. This is okay too. Just remember that it's never too late to learn something new.

Redecorate your house.

When was the last time you spruced up your living environment? If it has been awhile, maybe you should invest some time and effort in remodeling it with new furniture, paint, organizers, etc. This will not only give your house a fresh, new look, but it will also help you overcome your empty nest blues if you are prone to reminiscing about the past. You may be tempted to dwell on the past too much if you have items lying around such as a baseball glove or a certain piece of furniture that remind you of when your child was small or when he was living with you. Store these items in safekeeping to help alleviate your feelings of sadness. Having these items in public view may cause you to think that your child is just at a friend's house or away for the weekend. This can be unhealthy because you may continue to make yourself believe it. Instead, display old and recent pictures of your child, so you can see how far he has come.

Improve your relationships.

Sometimes when a person has children, it can be hard to maintain relationships. However, with one less child at home to occupy a lot of your time, you can focus on improving your other relationships. Use this opportunity to become reacquainted with your spouse or spend more time with your other kids and pets who are at home. Invite your friends to a night out on the town or visit relatives that you don't get to see often. Everyone will be happy to be receiving your attention.

Volunteer around your community.

Spend your extra time wisely by helping out the community. Volunteer at a local homeless or animal shelter or consider delivering meals to elders of the community. Being involved in community activities will also help you meet new people with whom you can establish lasting friendships.

Enjoy your "me" time. 

Relax! You have spent the last eighteen years raising a child. Now you can enjoy some alone time! Read your favorite books. Watch your favorite movies. Treat yourself to a relaxing massage.

Text or call your child.

Instead of visiting your child every weekend or every other weekend, consider keeping in touch with him through telephone calls or texts. This will allow you to keep in touch with what's going on in your child's life without seeming too pushy and allow you to gradually get used to not talking to him every day.

Sending a child off to college is undoubtedly hard on parents. However, it is important to keep in mind that you will eventually become accustomed to not having your child at home. Take this bittersweet opportunity to get involved in activities that you have always wanted to do but have just never had the time and to develop an adult relationship with your child.

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empty nest syndrome

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