When one or more child leaves home, it can be very difficult emotionally for a mother to cope. This occasion is especially difficult for single mothers because when you are an only parent, the majority of your life revolves around the welfare of your children and getting things done for them. When there is no one to mother, it usually leaves an empty space in the home and mind for the mother.
Your children are your whole life and you have made so many sacrifices so that they may have a better start in life, and now it feels as if they have gone and you have lost them forever. While this is a completely normal mindset to have, you know that they are not lost forever. You should see this as an opportunity for you to embrace.
A Good Way to Handle Empty Nest Syndrome
Fortunately there are good ways to alleviate the symptoms of this condition so that you do not spiral down into a state of severe depression.
Make Peace with the Transition
You have done the best job that you can do as a mother and you need to make peace with whatever mistakes you have made along the way and trust that your children have learned the lessons that you have dedicated your time, love and effort to teach them. You need to trust that they will make the right choices and realize that, should they make mistakes on their journey, they will learn from these mistakes and carry on as you had done when you were their age.
Do Not Suppress the Sadness
Making peace with the fact that your children may not need you as much as they used to, does not mean that you should feel nothing at all. It is normal to feel sad and at a loss when your children go to university or get married. It is normal to have a cry every now and again and mourn the bond that you once had with this child and how much they needed you for their existence. If you try to suppress these feelings of sadness and loss, they will only surface in other ways and you may become depressed rather than getting those feelings out by crying every now and again.
Keep in Touch
If you are not as versed in technology as you should be in this day and age, then this is the time to get yourself upgraded. It is so easy to stay in touch these days and it does not cost quite as much as it used to. With so many networking sites, emails, mobile applications and mobile messaging, there is no excuse not to stay in touch. There is of course a healthy line that needs to be drawn when staying in touch so that your children do not feel like they are being controlled or that you are interfering in their lives too much, but you can stay updated with how they are doing and what they are getting up to through these mediums.
The World Is Yours Again
When you become a parent, you need to make a few sacrifices in order to accommodate your children or your teenagers. A new way to look at your children leaving home is that they are now responsible for themselves and you can do all of the things that you did not have the time to do or missed the opportunity to do. You can now start a hobby or travel to places you could not visit before. You can socialize with your friends and not have to worry about what time you need to be home for your children. Once you get into this frame of mind, the sad emotions will soon turn around.
Build a Social Safety Net
We all have those friends or family member that you can turn to when life’s pressures seem too much to bear. These friends and family members are a very good and reliable source of support when you are feeling the sadness. If you do not have much of a social life, there is no need to panic because there are support groups available where you will meet other parents or single mothers who are also experiencing the stresses of Empty Nest Syndrome. There is no need to feel like you are taking on the world by yourself.
The following groups are especially for this kind of support:
It is always a good idea to join support groups even if you are not heading towards the depressive side of the condition because there are so many others that could learn something from you as you may learn something from them in turn. If you do feel as if you are coping, you may be able to teach others how to cope with the overwhelming feelings that they may be going through.
Find Something To Take Up Your Time
For years, all of your time was taken up with the activities that your children took part in. Now that they have left home, there is a vacancy in your daily schedule and you need to fill it with something positive and something that excites you. It can be as simple as getting absorbed in a book from your favorite author or you could try your hand at something as complicated and time consuming as learning a new craft such as cake decorating or anything else that tickles your fancy.
If you want to get into shape and you could never take the time to go to a gym, you can now join the gym or a group activity such as yoga or walking with a group of friends. Yoga is a wonderful option because not only is it good for your body, but it does wonders for your mind; a good yoga session will leave you feeling at peace and much more relaxed. What you do from now on with your time will be because you want to do it, not because you have to.
Signs That You Are Not Coping
In cases of empty nest syndrome, as previously mentioned, it is often the single mothers who suffer the most. It is difficult to go from a situation to where your children are your whole life to one where your children now take responsibility for their own lives and do not even live with you anymore. Although being sad is normal, there are a few signs that may tell that you are not coping and that you will need to see your doctor.
These signs include:
- Feelings that you are no longer useful as a human being
- Thoughts of suicide
- Excessive crying
- No longer wanting to socialize with colleagues or friends
- Feeling drained of all energy
- Feeling anxious about getting out of bed in the mornings
These signs are the same signs you may find in chronic depressive patients and you need to seek professional help, even if you feel like you are over reacting.
Your Child Is Ready
When your children get to the point where they feel they are ready to move out of your home, you should take it as a sign that they are ready to face the challenges that life has in store for them. You can make the transition easier for the both of you by assuring them that you are there if something should go wrong, but that you are happy for them that they have decided to take this big step.
It may seem like a cruel thing to do, but no matter how close you are to your children, it is best not to show them how sad you might feel at their departure. At some time in their lives, they do need to spread their wings and break their dependence from you as their parents, and this will be harder for them to do if they feel that doing this causes you great discomfort.
If they were not ready to leave home, they would not be leaving in the first place, so take their willingness to start their own lives as a sign that you have prepared them enough for life in the big world out there. Try to think back to how you felt at this age; you probably were not prepared for absolutely everything, but you drew from the knowledge that your parents gave you, and you learned how to deal with situations along the way. Your child is deserving of such an opportunity.
You should see this as a tribute to your skills and success as a single mother; all the effort and hard work that you have put in to equipping your children for the real world has now culminated to this point. Your child is now ready and able to face the world and all its challenges and opportunities.
The Reality of Co-Habiting Families
It may not be a reason or be healthy to kick your kids out of the house as soon as they graduate, but it has been shown that when adults and their parents live together, there is more conflict between these parties. As a parent, you cannot help but to involve yourself in your children’s daily lives and how they choose to live, and this may be a bone of contention with them. The nurturing bond then turns into more of a feeling of prison warden and captive instead of the healthy order of things where adults live their own lives independent from their parents.
Empty nest syndrome is on the decline, but that does not mean there is something wrong with you if you do feel sad and distressed when your young ones start to leave home. With the right help and support, you will enjoy life to the fullest again in no time.