Empty Nest Syndrome; Preparing for life after children

An “empty nest” is defined as “a household in which one or more parents live after the children have left home”.

Empty nest syndrome refers to feelings of depression, sadness, and, or grief experienced by parents after children come of age and leave their childhood homes. This might occur when children go to college, get married or simply move out. Women are more likely than men to be affected by empty nest syndrome, but often, when children leave the home, mothers are going through other significant life events as well, such as menopause or caring for elderly parents.

As the single mother of three grownups, there are probably a hundred thousand things that I didn’t do for myself when my kids were growing up. There are things that I wish I’d done or started back when I was in my late 30’s or early 40’s, that I share with moms/other women who’re at those stages, because no one shared those things with me. I love seeing their eyes light up when they say “that’s a great idea!” and sharing those things makes me feel a little less regretful of the fact that ‘I should have’ done any of the things that I didn’t do years ago.

Granted, it’s natural to feel a sense of loss when your children leave home, but I also felt a tiny bit of anticipation for the life that I could create now that I didn’t have to pick anyone up from school, or drive to baseball practice, etc.

I try to help prepare moms (single and otherwise) for the day when their last child has left the nest, and life is once again their own.

What does that life look like?

Do you have dreams that you put on hold in your youth to have a family?

Did you dream of living in another country, an exotic location, or creating a business life that you love?

Who were you before other human beings called you “Mom”?

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but when your kids move out, they’re going to be largely preoccupied with their own lives, and as difficult as it is to do, you should be the same way about yours. The time to start preparing yourself for a ‘life after kids’ isn’t when the last child moves out; it’s ten years before that day.

I had no idea that those ten years would pass so fucking quickly, but they whipped by, making that ‘doppler effect’ sound as they passed my spinning head.

If fulfilling any part of your ‘dream life’ once the kids leave is going to require funds in addition to your ‘regular’ living expenses, this is the time to start building those funds (I’ll get more deeply into that soon).

The time to start planning for the day that you’re ‘free’ to do whatever the hell you please, isn’t in ten years. It’s right fucking NOW.

How?

Well…begin by figuring out what you want your ‘post-child-raising-life’ to look like.

Where do you want to live?

Do you want to stay in the suburban home that you raised your children in? Or do you want to pack all that shit in and move to a condo in the big city?

Are you dreaming of moving to another country entirely?

Start putting these things in ink on paper, and stay tuned for ‘the big plan’.

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