Empty nest syndrome

When a child leaves home, it can trigger a range of emotions in a parent - from pride and satisfaction to sadness and worry. We've gathered some helpful tips from some of the parents we’ve spoken to about how to deal with an empty nest.

Acknowledge how you feel

When your children are getting ready to leave home, it can be a stressful time. Lots of your time might be taken up helping them to get ready, so try to take a few moments for yourself, just to acknowledge how you are feeling. If arguments are flaring up, or just if you think it could be helpful, talk to your child about how you are feeling. Try not to pass on any feelings of guilt - acknowledge that while you might be feeling sad or anxious, you recognise that it’s a positive step for them.

You may feel quite a shock when they've gone. It's the end of an era and the feelings you experience may be similar to grief. Stay in touch - if they live nearby, invite them over for dinner or plan a shopping trip together. If they are further away, keep in touch by phone or email, but be aware that they are adjusting to a new life and may not want to chat all the time.

Rediscover yourself and your relationships

Make plans for the weeks after they have moved out so that you keep busy and start making time to enable you to rediscover yourself and your relationships. Do something that will help you to rediscover yourself. You may have more time for yourself now that the washing and ironing has gone down. Whether it is spending more time with friends or pursuing a dream - think about what you want. If you have a partner you may feel you want to rediscover your relationship now the focus has gone from the kids. Think of things you can do together now that you've got a bit more time to yourselves.

The boomerang effect

If they live round the corner they may want to assert their independence but you can bet they still want to be around. And don't forget that if they are going to college they may soon be back for the holidays. Prepare yourself for this if you have got used to having the place to yourself.

empty nest

How we can help you

If you would like support and advice, you can talk to one of our Family Support Workers by calling our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. You can also share experiences and advice with other parents on our Forums. Family Lives is here for you and you can contact us about any family issue, big or small.

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