For years, your child’s entire life has revolved around you. You’ve been there for every scuffed knee, bad report, birthday party and school concert. And now it’s over. Just like that.
Of course, you’re happy that your child is embarking on an exciting new venture. As a parent, this moment is the culmination of all your hard work. But experiencing a sense of sadness and loss is totally normal, and empty nest syndrome is no old wives’ tale.
Your family is going through a huge change. But there are ways to ease the transition.
1. Mentally prepare yourself for what’s to come
Adjusting to a life without your children in the home is a challenge you might think you’re prepared for, but could hit you hard when it happens. Visualise the change.
Remind yourself that it is coming and it will be very different. This will make you feel stronger and more prepared when the goodbye eventually comes.
2. Create a new daily routine
You’ve given so much of your life to parenting. For years, you’ve spent your weekends watching hockey matches. You’ve played chauffeur, doctor, teacher and chef. You’ve done your duty, so now it’s time to relax.
Get back into that hobby you gave up long ago. There are fewer things you have to do, so reconnect with the things you want to do.
3. Expand your circle of friends
With social media, it’s so easy to find friends you’ve fallen out of touch with. Revisit these relationships, and build new ones by joining clubs or societies to meet like-minded adults.
Having a circle of friends isn’t just a way to fill your extra time. It’s a way to remind yourself of the person you are when your primary personality trait isn’t “parent”.
4. Learn to love your newfound freedom and flexibility
Being a parent with a child living at home isn’t easy. Much of your time is spent caring for your family (and forgetting about yourself in the process).
Think of everything you’ve ever wanted to do over the years. Now that your nest is empty, you have that time to do all of it.
It’s finally time to focus on yourself. Learn self-pampering and enjoy it!
5. Technology makes it easier
Staying in touch now is easier than it’s ever been thanks to Skype, WhatsApp, Google – and good old-fashioned phone calls. Knowing that they’re always available can make the transition a lot easier.
Some kids will crave daily contact, and others will need more space, so follow your child’s lead when deciding how much to reach out.
6. Don’t view this change as the “end” of parenting
“Parent” isn’t a title you lose when your child leaves the family home. Your child will always need you, no matter how independent they get. They’ll also never stop coming to you for advice.
This is simply a shift to a new stage of parenting: you become a mentor, and even a friend. It may not define you as much as it used to, but you’ll be parenting for the rest of your life.
With the kids leaving home, you might find items big and small that may need storing for a while until a new home is found for them. Getting the clutter out of the way will make it easier to adjust to your new life.
7. Enjoy some free space
A word of advice – don’t let clutter be what fills the space in your “nest”!
Whether you stay in the family home or move to a new, smaller home, it’s ideal if you have a place where your children can bunk down, if and when they choose. But don’t hang on to decades’ worth of accumulated possessions for no good reason.
It’s a great idea to work with your kids to decide what’s worth keeping, what isn’t and what should be stored for the meantime – for example, until they have homes of their own.
Also consider how to make the best use of a free room. You might choose to convert it for a new hobby, make it comfortable for occasional visitors or even rent it out to make some spare cash.
At XtraSpace, we offer clean, secure self-storage units that are ideal for storing household and personal items until you're ready to move, donate or sell them – or until they’re needed by your kids! Contact us for more information or browse to find a branch near you.