balanced empty nest

5 Tips for Achieving a Balanced Empty Nest

As children grow up, they leave the nest and move out on their own. But what happens after kids leave the house?

This is especially true for many parents recently who might have ‘re-captured’ their children during the COVID pandemic. Especially for college aged kids and young single adult children, many came home to ride out the pandemic with a close family group. Now that the worst of the pandemic has subsided and the world is re-opening, parents are possibly sending the kids back out of the ‘nest’ for a second time.

“Empty nesters” are individuals who have once had one or more children in their house, but now are on their own. The carpool requirements are gone. The dinner planning have changed, because you are cooking for two… or just one. 

The Empty Nest can often feel lonely and bored, and many wonder whether they will ever experience life again without their kids around.

What felt like purpose and ‘balance’ is not off-kilter. How do you achieve that balance again in this new ’empty nest’ lifestyle.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help.

If you’re an empty nester, you know what we mean. And if you aren’t, you soon will be. As children age, they tend to ‘leave the nest’. That’s a healthy thing for everyone… right?

Yes, it is healthy for everyone. And it’s natural.

That’s why it’s important to remember that you aren’t alone. There are plenty of other empty nesters out there who understand what you’re going through. 

If you find yourself feeling lonely and bored, there are things you can do to help yourself feel better. You might try joining an online community where other empty nesters share experiences and advice. Or you could join a local group of empty nest parents. These groups provide opportunities to meet new friends and make new connections.

Take Care of Yourself

Being alone isn’t necessarily bad. In fact, some people enjoy being by themselves. However, when you spend too much time alone, you might start to feel sad or depressed. This is called loneliness.

Loneliness can lead to feelings of sadness, anxiety, anger, and even thoughts of suicide. If you ever have those thoughts of harming yourself, dial 988 or go to 988lifeline.org immediately.

If you are dealing with emotions of sadness or emptiness, its important to talk to a professional. They can help you develop coping skills for addressing these feelings in a healthy way.

If possible, look at this time of your life as a ‘me moment’. What have you wanted to do that you put off due to family obligations? Maybe its time to begin that health regime. Or perhaps a trip to a faraway location is in your near future.

Give yourself permission to be a bit ‘selfish’ for a while.

Don’t Lean too heavily on Your Partner

If you are in an empty nest with your partner, try to remember that they are possibly going through their own ’empty nest issues’. This may not be the best time to lean on them for your emotional relief. If they are still processing their emotions, they may exhibit anger or withdrawal.

Be loving and respectful to each other and acknowledge that each of you have to deal with your emotions individually… but together. Sometimes, that mean that each of your might need more space to internalize their feelings. Other couples though may embrace each other and celebrate the start of their new chapter in life. Each couple is different.

Talking about your feelings honestly with each other is probably the best way to make sure both of you are understanding each others’ needs. If you find that there is an unusual level of conflict when discussing your feelings, you might want to include a professional in the conversation to help you both unravel those feelings.

Have fun with grandkids (or someone else’s kids)

If you’re feeling lonely and missing your children’s daily presence, try spending more time with friends or family members. Or, consider volunteering at an organization that helps others… especially if the activity includes younger people. Volunteering can help you meet new people and make new friends.

Perhaps, you will have grandkids come into your life. This can be a joyous time for grandparents. Grandparents get to ‘spoil’ little ones, then hand them back to their parents when everyone’s tired and ‘cranky’. (Remember, that is the ‘job’ of the parent.)

Find Ways to Stay Active.

There are studies that indicate how physical health and emotional health are interconnected. You might not think of yourself as an active person, but there are lots of ways to stay fit and healthy. Try walking instead of driving when possible. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park farther away from stores so you walk longer distances. And, if you work outside the home, take breaks during the day to stretch and do some light exercise.

We hope that these tips will give you some ideas on how to ‘balance’ the emotions of becoming an empty nester. Not all suffer from this life transition… but, you may not be one of them.

Promise, it will get better.

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