Off to College and Coping with Empty Nest

If we have children, we will inevitably reach the day when they are heading off to college. The transition will most likely bring a mix of emotions, as the adolescent is stepping closer to independence and adulthood. Coming into that move-in weekend can bring some anticipatory anxiety, and as parents, our attention is often focused on the child’s emotions and getting them geared up and calmed down. We load up the mini-van, pack the Kraft Dinner and get pulled into the busy couple of days of getting them settled in.

And then we come home. Although Empty-Nest Syndrome is not a clinical disorder, it can be a very real experience for many parents. Characterized by feelings of sadness, depression, loneliness, loss and a re-ordering of one’s purpose, we can often struggle with the transition ourselves.  Here are some tips for dealing with our empty nest:

  • Mitigate the feelings through having regular contact with your child. Although we want to be able to shelter them from our own feelings (this is their time), it will help to be able to text, begin Face-timing, and have an overall sense that you are touching base.
  • Reach out to others for support. Talk to other friends who have been there, lean on your trusted co-workers, make sure to plan coffee dates if you are feeling the blues.
  • Self-care, self-care, self-care. Make sure that you are checking in with yourself and putting an effort into daily anchors.
  • Shift your focus. It is okay to begin to see your life in a different way. Be curious as to how you want to spend some of your opened-up schedule; with your partner, things that interest you, exercise, and so forth.
  • Seek professional advice. Talk to a therapist if you feel the struggle is reaching an overwhelming place.

Our children heading to college; an exciting time but also an emotional one. A time of important growth – both for them and for us. 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Luke Brugger on Unsplash

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