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Posts Tagged ‘freshman year’

Ohio State University Campus

A couple months ago I wrote a blog about teaching our children to fly (from the nest). In three weeks, I will be moving my youngest child in to her college dorm. After surviving her senior year, I must now prepare for her departure and for the empty nest that will result.

As a parent, my life has not revolved solely around my children. I have tried to participate in things I enjoy for myself. I realize that to be the best parent I can be, I need to have things that bring me joy that are not dependent on my children. I want my kids to see that adults can have fun and do things that make them happy and still be good parents.

As my daughter prepares for this exciting new time, I am filled with mixed emotions. I am happy she’s doing well and that she wants to take care preparing herself for campus living. I try to avoid thinking about her leaving because I don’t want to dampen her excitement. I know I will likely experience some empty nest syndrome, though I don’t think it will be too severe.

The signs of empty nest syndrome include:

  • Feeling sad, anxious, and stressed about an empty house.
  • Unable to sleep or eat well due to being distracted by your thoughts.
  • Reverting to memories you shared with your kids when they were still living at home.
  • Reminiscing about their childhood and going through things they left behind.
  • Feeling useless or worthless since you no longer need to take care for your children.
  • Languishing—having less energy and motivation to do things you used to or want to do.
smiling couple

Empty nest syndrome can last for years, though most parents adjust to the new situation in about 2 months. Some parents look forward to the freedom from parenting daily, while others dread the thought of not having the kids around. Some, like me, have mixed feelings of excitement and sadness that my role as a parent of a child has ended. Regardless how parents feel, there are things they can do to help reduce empty nest syndrome:

  • Talk to your partner and your child about your feelings.
  • Reconnect with your partner or other significant people.
  • Respect your child’s new independence.
  • Focus on the future and the upsides of an empty nest, not the past.
  • Stay active and consider exercising regularly.
  • Stay disciplined with money.
  • Invest in yourself by doing things you enjoy and practicing self-care.
  • Don’t feel guilty for having fun and enjoying this new chapter.
  • Join a support group for empty nesters.
  • Seek professional help if feelings of sadness, anxiety, or depression persist.

As you navigate this new chapter, give yourself and your young adult some grace. Focus on getting to know your adult child, relish all you both have accomplished and look forward to all that is to come. Since the only constant in life is change, it is best to embrace it.

Author: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu

Sources:

Battles, D. M. (2020, November 26). How to cope with empty nest syndrome and be happy again. Lifehack. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://www.lifehack.org/809725/empty-nest-syndrome

Carter, S. (2021, June 14). From languishing to flourishing. Live Healthy Live Well. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/06/17/from-languishing-to-flourishing/

Carter, S. (2022, July 8). College send-off: Are you ready? Live Healthy Live Well. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2022/07/11/college-send-off-are-you-ready/

Educomics. (2021, November 15). Effective ways to combat empty nest syndrome. Educomics.org. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://www.educomics.org/watching-your-children-grow-up/

Harmon, M. (2021, December 14). The only constant is change. Live Healthy Live Well. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/12/14/the-only-constant-is-change/  

Harmon, M. (2022, May 24). They have wings, just teach them how to fly. Live Healthy Live Well. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2022/05/24/they-have-wings-just-teach-them-how-to-fly/

Rupp, M. (2022, April 6). Spring clean your finances! Live Healthy Live Well. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2022/03/14/spring-clean-your-finances/State of nevada employee handbook. (n.d.). Retrieved July 28, 2022, from https://hr.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/hrnvgov/Content/Resources/Publications/Employee_Handbook.pdf

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