It’s a day all parents come to expect eventually, but what is Empty Nest Syndrome and how can we cope when our children leave home?
Empty nest syndrome is characterised by a feeling of grief and loneliness when your adult children leave home. Though the average child does not move out of home until around 26, many will leave for the first time to go to university at 18. It is something that most of us with children will experience eventually, and it can affect all parents, though mums are usually more open to talk about it than dads. That being said, Gordon Ramsay has spoken publicly about his experience when his son left for university, as mentioned here.
We spend decades preparing our children for their adult lives, yet it’s still a shock to the system when they begin their own adventures! It can be hard to remember that our job as mum is to raise children to become functional adults; teaching independence, responsibility and mindfulness all becomes second nature. But then they suddenly become functional adults! How do we cope with the sudden dynamic shift?
It’s perfectly understandable to feel (very) emotional when your child leaves home for the first time. Many of us will cycle through anguish, anxiety, grief and loss with a bit of loneliness added in for good measure. We may, though, also feel relief and freedom with the breathing space we’ve often longed for, and time to ourselves. All of these feelings are normal, and there’s no need to feel guilty if you feel positive about it!
Such an emotionally complex time is bound to affect us all differently. But there are many ways we can cope with, and even embrace, this momentous event, as I’ll detail further on.
Speaking for myself, I devoted my life to our children. I had to continue working for financial need, though I loved more than anything being at home with my boys. But I always knew that if I did my job well as a mother, they would one day feel prepared to venture out on their own and leave home. As things have panned out our youngest, Sam, is still living at home due to having a chronic illness. It’s so illogical but I do wonder if it’s my fault he’s ill! The guilt of a mother, I suppose, but I do feel sad that he hasn’t been able to live independently.
So from personal experience only one child has left. Rob, my eldest, lived at home whilst he was at university, moving out after completing his degree to live with his girlfriend whilst she was in her final year. Degrees completed, they moved to Wales, where my now daughter-in-law works, and they own a lovely house there.
I missed having him in the house but it just felt so right that he settled with the love of his life. His future is not with parents, but with the family that he makes for himself. I feel as if I have done my job properly and I’m so proud of him. There are still a few bits and pieces of his in the loft - one day I must sort it all out!
I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss him. Sometimes I feel so much love for him that I could burst. But he’s where he should be, with a partner that he loves, in a profession that absorbs him, and as incommunicado as he ever was!
Whilst I am able, I will always be there for my children. I will always worry about them. I will always think about how I could’ve done things differently, and always have some regrets. But mostly I will have overwhelming love for them and pride for the men that they have become. They are both kind, loving, thoughtful men - my husband and I must’ve done something right!
Several of my friends have experienced this, too. And we’re all coping in different ways. I recall seeing the mum of a child that Rob had gone to school with, who was normally cheerful and happy. She looked like she’d lost her whole world and had clearly been crying. As it turned out her son, and only child, had recently moved to Australia.
My friend Sue shares how her son moving out affected her:
“I missed his presence in the house, however we spent our time letting him grow into the adult he now is. We gave him wings. We needed to let him fly and return to the nest as he wished. I still worry about him at times and always will. Well trained parent!"
Coping with Empty Nest Syndrome
There are several great ways to keep yourself busy and distract from those painful feelings. The key is planning. Prevention is often more effective than a cure, so be sure to prepare yourself as much as possible.
- Keep yourself busy
Plan new projects or take on new responsibilities at work. You could also begin projects at home. That renovation you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t find the time or motivation for? Now’s your chance.
- Find other ways to nurture
As mothers, we spend our childrens’ lives nurturing them and helping them to grow. Finding other outlets for this need is so comforting, and will help you to give your child the space they need. You could become more active in your community, organising charity events or even taking up gardening and watching your plants grow.
- Give yourself time to heal
Emotions are a wonderful part of life. Without the lows, we can’t truly appreciate the highs. It’s essential to look after your mental health, so do ensure you’re listening to your body and resting when you need to. Take some time out for self-care, whether that’s reading a book in solitude, taking a luxurious bubble bath, or just switching off with meditation. You could also talk to your child and make sure they understand that while you’re sad, you know it’s a positive step for them for them to take and you’re proud of them.
- Embrace your newfound freedom
It’s common to feel a little lost in an empty house. Perhaps you’re left with a partner you’ve not fully connected with in years, or find yourself now living alone. I’ve heard of parents suddenly running around their houses in their underwear (or in the nude!) now that there are no embarrassed teenage (or older) eyes. You may finally be able to watch whatever you want and feel unrestricted by certain food preferences you don’t agree with. It may take time to work up to these feelings of relief, but do embrace them when they arrive!
Reconnecting with Your Partner
When children are living at home there is, of course, a different dynamic between parents. Once your children have left it can also leave a parent without a partner completely on their own. If both parents are together or with a partner, the couple will have to readjust to being on their own, together. Some relationships don’t weather this as I saw from my days as a couples therapist. The shift sometimes becomes impossible to overcome, sadly.
My advice would be to talk to other women who have been through this and see how they coped. There is much to be gained from the knowledge of your peers. It will take some time to settle into a new routine, and find out if you can still feel comfortable around each other without your child(ren) around the house. You could plan day trips out together, or even redecorate as small ways to bring you closer.
As well as adjusting to life as a couple, rather than parents, you’ll find there’s also adjusting to being a woman in your own right. This is the perfect time to reflect introspectively and redefine yourself as a woman, not only your child(ren)’s mother.
Use this time to focus on yourself, your own growth, and getting back in touch with who you are as a woman. It may take time, but a small step is still progress. As mentioned before, indulge yourself in self-care activities that you may not have been able to make time for. Take a long bath without the fear of a teenager pounding on the door five minutes later, suddenly desperate for a shower. Even give your wardrobe an update, now that your food bill is likely halved!
Your Secret Weapon: Beautiful Lingerie
Treating yourself to new clothing is a fantastic way to lift your mood. Finding an outfit that makes you look and feel amazing is not to be sniffed at. The same goes for your underwear. There’s little better in life than wearing luxurious, glamorous, and still comfortable lingerie. Get it right, and no-one will even know - unless you choose to share it with a special someone - giving you a cheeky confidence boost. Our luxury anti-chafe shorts are perfect for this, as all styles boast no VPL and are made with the finest Italian satin and gorgeous lace.
Beautiful lingerie is also a wonderful segue into reconnecting on an intimate level with your partner, or gearing up to begin a new relationship. Now you have the house to yourself, why not embrace it by planning a romantic evening, complete with brand new lingerie. As our lingerie shorts are just so comfortable, you can wear them all day long without needing to rearrange yourself. The aforementioned lack of VPL makes them the perfect suit underwear, and your partner seeing you slip them on under your suit before you head to work will only build intrigue as the day progresses.
You could even use gorgeous lingerie as a way of connecting with yourself and showing yourself some love! Think about how confident you feel in perfectly fitting underwear. If you’re anything like me, you’ll stand a little taller and hold your head a little higher, feeling confident and empowered. You don’t need a partner to treat yourself to lingerie! Self-love, in all its variations, is crucial to a self-care routine and to our overarching self-esteem. Reconnecting with yourself on an intimate level through self-pleasure, for example, will not only boost your confidence and mood (thank you, endorphins), but can also increase your sex drive and help you feel more assertive in the bedroom, should you choose to share it with someone special. What better way to enjoy your newfound space?
What’s more, every order of our beautiful lingerie shorts are packaged with utmost care. Including a small gift (usually a handmade soap or bath bomb) and wrapped beautifully, we ensure your whole experience is a luxurious treat.
Bloomin’ Sexy Lingerie
Your child(ren) leaving home is an incredibly emotional time for any parent. Remember that whatever you’re feeling, be it negative or positive, you must let yourself feel. Give yourself time and ride the wave. If you find that you’re feeling primarily negative or low, try to schedule in some light-hearted distractions to lift your mood. If you’re finding the opposite, remind yourself you have no reason to feel guilty! In both cases, imagine how empowered and happy your children are, and how you’ve been there since the very beginning, preparing them for this momentous day. You’ve done a wonderful job, proven by their successes.
Try to remember that this is as much your victory as theirs, and they’ll soon be in touch for advice and comfort. They’ll always be your child. Use this as an excuse to celebrate the years of hard work you’ve put in, and to reconnect with the areas of your life that may have fallen by the wayside. Treat yourself, congratulate yourself, relax (or at least try to).
Reawaken your Inner Goddess
While we can’t promise to solve all your troubles overnight, lifting your confidence with Bloomin’ Sexy lingerie is a great place to start. Empowering you to reignite your inner sensuality, reawakening your inner goddess. Neither ever left you, so let’s get them back.
Has your child recently left home, or are they planning their adventure? Which coping mechanisms are working best for you? Let us know in the comments or use our contact form to get in touch.