When they leave home

 

When we bring our children into the world we commit to nurturing and guiding them to become the best version of themselves they can possibly be. We fully invest our love, energy, time and money and just hope that by the time they leave home that we have done enough.  We hope to instil in them the confidence to step out into the big wide world with courage and excitement about the life before them.  We hope that we have taught them to be accepting of self and others and above all for me, have a strong value of kindness.

Sometimes the experience of raising children is wonderful, at other times we might question why we decided to have children in the first place; however underneath every moment with them is pure love for the beautiful young human we have created. As they grow we often feel that they are not only our child, but also a little friend that is a joy to have around and we miss them if they are out and about.  Preparing our Children for leaving home is of course the goal of parenting, but knowing this does not stop it from hurting when the time comes.

No-body warns of the grief of this time, empty nest syndrome is often spoken about with derision and  dismissiveness, making it difficult to talk about with others for fear of feeling belittled if you are struggling with this huge life change.  Of course not everyone struggles, some parents feel excited about the new found freedom, but for me personally, this is a difficult time.

All of a sudden big questions are coming up like ‘who am I now? the future feels a fearful place as I try to adjust to a new identity.  I no longer have any interest in the party lifestyle that was there before the kids came along.  My home now feels too large and the empty rooms are a constant reminder of a phase of life that has passed. I know that these feelings will move on, but just now I am having to be really deliberate in self-care, to stave off loneliness and anxiety.  Being a counsellor I am lucky to have the knowledge and skills to work with myself through this transition phase, but thought I would share with you some of the things I am being very intentional about, just in case you are feeling a little like me.

The things I am trying

  1. I start my day with two morning questions based in emotion, then action. the question is ‘How do I want to feel today? and when my mind has supplied a positive reply such as ‘I want to feel connected’ I ask ‘how can I experience this in my day?
  2. I have taken a break from listening to the news first thing in the morning, instead I listen to a podcast that has a positive message.
  3. I don’t leave myself too much time in the mornings to prevent dwelling on the emptiness of the house, instead I take myself out for a 15 minute walk.
  4. I am taking care of my nutritional needs and have incorporated a swim 3 times a week, to encourage being present in my body.
  5. I practice gratitude and mindfulness through-out the day, even saying thank you should the traffic lights be mainly on green on my way to work.
  6. I am being boundaried about work, to prevent over-working to fill the void.
  7. I talk to trusted people about how I am feeling, to help me feel connected and have my experience validated.
  8. At the end of the day I ask another question in my journal, and this is ‘How have I shown up for myself today? for this helps me to acknowledge that I have invested in me.

I hope this article has been a helpful read, and please remember it is completely normal to find this phase of life difficult to manage but trust that it will get better as we forge different relationships with our now adult children.

 

 


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