For many parents sending their freshly graduated children off to college, coping with the drastic change can be challenging. Your once lively nest will be empty, leaving you to fill in the gaps your child once fulfilled. Whether you jump into pet parenthood or seek a family therapist to get you through your newfound child-free life, finding ways to overcome freshman fragility will be a must.
If you’re frozen in time, longing to go back to toddler-filled days, read on for six ways you can escape the empty nester funk and build a full life sans children.
Consider adopting a pet
Having an empty nest, even temporarily, can be challenging for parents who are used to the noise and chaos of a home filled with children. Many parents opt for pet adoption to fill the childless void to combat the quiet.
Whether you dive deep and adopt from a litter of demanding and energetic English Cream Golden Retriever puppies or opt for a low-maintenance goldfish, caring for a pet can be a healthy emotional outlet.
Some parents find solace in taking care of themselves after years of demanding, nonstop childcare. Though it may take time to fall into a solid self-care routine, taking on practices like meditation, regular exercise, and clean eating can distract you from an empty house.
Work with a therapist
Though some parents find newfound freedom in sending their kids off to college, others may struggle with the shift, leaving them emotionally fragile upon send-off. If you’ve found the lifestyle adjustment taxing, it might be helpful to sign up for a therapist consultation to work through confusing emotions.
Family therapists can teach parents coping mechanisms for highly-attached familial systems, helping break apart unhealthy tendencies and replacing them with healthy independence. Though your emotional response is normal and valid, it can be helpful to learn management skills, allowing you to thrive in your child’s absence.
Though freshly graduated eighteen-year-olds can benefit from increased independence and freedom, it’s normal for parents to stay involved indirectly. For example, if your child is attending a local college, consider attending big games to show your school spirit and support their achievements. Or, if your child is out of state, set up occasional video chats to catch up on their new life and keep tabs on their progress.
Another funfilled way to remedy the empty nest blues is by making plans to meet up with your children once they’ve settled into college life. Though it’s important to offer them space, allowing them to experience life away from home, planning a quick visit can be an excellent way to stave off feelings of loneliness and longing.
Renew other relationships
After years of diligent parenting, many adults find themselves lacking interpersonal relationships outside of their family. However, now that your children are off experiencing the outside world, you can prioritize and rekindle your personal friendships.
By shifting your focus from your children to other valuable relationships, you can build a community of like-minded people who can help you cope with your newfound freedom.
Sending a child off to college can be a sore spot for many parents—especially those heavily involved in their teenagers’ lives. However, by practicing healthy coping mechanisms and building a supportive community, you can find a new sense of self in your loved one’s absence.