What is empty nest syndrome?
Empty nest syndrome is what the parents go through when the last child prepares to leave their home. It is very common that when this happens, many mothers will be going through the menopause. When children move out, it leaves parents feeling mixed emotions. Most commonly, loss. It can be a bittersweet feeling of pride and pain.
Empty nest syndrome isn’t a clinical diagnosis; it is a part of the human life cycle stage. It is a painful experience for parents to suddenly have no children at home who need constant care. It is difficult not being a part of their children’s daily lives and a challenging transition for a parent to have the loss of a persistent companionship. The parent will have stressful times worrying about their children’s safety. But beside that, it is a normal feeling of loneliness that can arise.
Symptoms of empty nest syndrome
Many women find themselves constantly on the brink of tears. This is normal when going through this change. If you’re going through the menopause at the same time, this feeling might be amplified by the hormonal imbalances that give us the dreaded mood swings. It is naturally to feel more sensitive and emotional. This is nothing to be ashamed of.
We all process our emotions differently. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to empty nest syndrome is the lack of control you have over the situation. However, this lack of control can bring about a lot of feelings of anger and frustration which people tend to take out on other things, such as the people around you.
The lockdown caused by COVID gave most of us an incredible opportunity to spend time with our family in a way unimagined before. COVID gave us the possibility to slow down and spend time with loved ones. It seemed very strange in the first place, but then, day by day, week by week we learned the pleasure of having free time. Parents spent a lot more time with their children who returned back home for the lockdown and after some time it became normal to have them home again.
Life after COVID
Now that lockdown is over we are slowly going back to normality. COVID taught us a new way of living. It has been very stressful, especially for those going through the menopause at the same time. But at the end, we also have some amazing moments with our families that will last a lifetime.
And now? People are going back to work, spending less time together and children are moving back out from their parent’s homes. The empty nest syndrome is kicking back in.
How can you deal with this?
Remember how you were at their age. Remember how excited, nervous, confused and sometimes even scared you were of leaving home for the first time. This is most likely what they are going through as well. It might bring you some comfort to know that they probably miss home just as much as you miss them. However, this is an essential part of life and it is inevitable. You should be proud that you have raised them independent enough to live on their own.
You could take this as an opportunity to reconnect with your partner. Try planning a holiday (or rather a staycation) with just the two of you, or even just a date night here and there.
If you do not have a partner, this is the perfect time to spend time with yourself, and enjoy your new-found freedom. You could try out new hobbies or learning a new skill. Get together with your friends (for sure you haven’t seen them since lockdown started). See this as an opportunity to give yourself more self-love and self-care. This could even be a good time to give yourself time to deal with your menopause and any other symptoms you experience with it.