Visions of the empty nest hold many opportunities for freedom and leisure, but many find that this stage of life can also bring new challenges. The well-documented (and, in our opinion, unnecessarily ominous-sounding) “empty nest syndrome” speaks to common and natural emotional changes that can affect people at this time of life.
How to Cope with an Empty Nest
Face it head-on.
Like other life transitions, every person has their own way of coping with an empty nest, and every experience will be different. Although every family has its own dynamic, it’s safe to say that you will likely experience some feelings of loss and “not knowing what to do with yourself”.
Common experiences of empty nesters include feeling the loss of a treasured time of life, loss of the identity of being a full-time parent, and loss of things to do or avenues to meet people and socialize. On the bright side, many people also experience the loss of extra laundry, dirty dishes, hectic schedules, and teenage drama.
We advise that you give yourself permission to take all the time you need to fully experience all of these feelings head-on, whatever form that may take for you.
Don’t make any major decisions right now.
If visions of an empty nest make you feel like fleeing your home (or the country!), you’re not alone. It’s true that you may have new freedom to do whatever you want to do, and we’re all for letting loose and celebrating. However, many who have gone through this stage of life will tell you that it’s just that: a phase of life. Emotions can run high during the early months of this phase, and it may be wise to hold off on any major life or financial decisions until a general sense of normalcy returns.
Pick up an evening or weekend activity.
For those who are accustomed to a busy schedule of sporting events, competitions, or even just having kids around the house, an empty nest can feel extremely quiet. If you savor the solitude, go with it! Or, if you prefer to stay busy, we recommend that you look for new routines for evenings and weekends. Take a class, join a team or exercise program, or commit to some other ongoing activity that makes you happy and/or keeps you healthy.
Plan a trip.
We hear this advice a lot: it’s a good idea to plan some sort of trip to get through the first few weeks of an empty nest. No, not a trip to your kids’ college town! Try to plan something fun and relaxing that will be easier to do now that you’re on your own. Plan it early so that you’ll have something to look forward to.
Cleaning house can be a fantastic stress reliever. While we would never recommend getting rid of all your kids’ belongings, we encourage you to embrace a new, simplified lifestyle that reflects how you want to live moving forward. Empty nesters frequently call on home transition specialists to help with:
- Re-designing and organizing rooms for a new purpose
- Sorting long-ignored storage areas
- Addressing photo and video collections
- Decluttering and refreshing living rooms and bedrooms
- Downsizing and relocation
Many people report that the empty nest phase of life is fabulous, once you get used to it. We’re here to help you simplify or reinvent your surroundings to support the activities you truly enjoy. Call us first when you need help decluttering or downsizing.