How to Overcome Empty Nest Syndrome and Thrive

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Worried about empty nest syndrome?That’s completely normal, but you can survive – and thrive! – after your kids leave home. Here are some tips to help you get past your sadness and thrive in the next phase of your life. We’ve also got free email support for just when you need it most.

The summer before college can fly by in a whirlwind of list-making, doctor appointments, shopping excursions, and orientation sessions. Before you know it, you’ll be walking out of a college dorm without your child and heading home to … do what exactly? How will you be able to survive the endless empty days and nights that await you? Are you doomed to suffer from Empty Nest Syndrome for the rest of your life?

How to Overcome Empty Nest Syndrome heading - a mom hugging her daughter at graduation

Guess what? It’s completely normal to worry about your upcoming empty nest. I mean the phrase itself is pretty joyless. Your nest, the home you’ve built to raise your chicks, is going to be empty, abandoned by those very chicks. Fortunately, I’ve got some tips to help you survive empty nest syndrome and even thrive in this next phase of life.

You can also sign up for my special e-mail support just for that first week in your empty nest. You’ll receive one email each day with an activity or tip to help support you during your first week.

Need a Little Extra Support?

New empty nester? Anticipating (or maybe dreading) that upcoming college drop-off? We’ve got your back!

Sign up now for Midlife Rambler’s 7-Day email series, Thriving in Your Empty Nest,  and you’ll receive an email every day for the next seven days (plus a few bonuses) filled with support, tips, and ideas to help you transition to the next exciting phase of your life!

It’s on the way! Check your inbox for your first email!

You’ll also receive the Midlife Rambler weekly newsletter where you’ll be the first to hear about new freebies. Unsubscribe at any time.

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Tom Petty was Right: The Waiting is the Hardest Part

If your child hasn’t yet left home, you may be surprised to find out that you’re currently going through the very worst part of Empty Nest Syndrome: anticipation. Anticipating your empty nest builds as your child enters their later years of high school and becomes most intense about the time your child graduates from high school. There’s a seemingly endless series of banquets, recognition ceremonies, and traditions, all apparently designed to just to break your heart with the finality of it all.

Fortunately, things aren’t really final, they just feel that way. As a veteran empty nester, I can promise you that your child won’t stop needing you once they get in college and you are not doomed to sitting alone, night after night, with a glass of wine and a Real Housewives marathon. (Unless you want to. That’s actually my idea of a perfect evening.)

It’s normal to feel a little sad and unsettled when you come home to that empty house right after college drop off. But with a few strategies, you can turn this time into a period where you can take pride both in your child’s new independence and in your own. This can be a time for both of you to spread your wings and take flight.

Be Patient with Yourself as You Adjust to Your Empty Nest

Do you remember the first few days after you brought your new baby home from the hospital? Did your life feel normal to you?

My life sure didn’t feel normal to me during those first few days of parenthood. I particularly remember one Saturday night during those early days when we trying to have a normal Saturday evening watching a movie. My son breastfed peacefully during the first half-hour and then spent the next two hours in a state of irritable crankiness. If I sat down, he fussed. If I stood up, he whined. Handing him to his dad brought on full-scale crying. By the end of the evening, we were all in tears.

It took a while for my new life as a parent to seem “normal” to me and it’s going to take a while for your new life as an empty nester to seem normal to you. If you’re feeling sad, honor your feelings and accept them and remember you’re going through a period of adjustment to this new phase.

If you feel like crying, then let yourself have a nice cry. I can’t be the only woman who cried as they were adjusting to parenthood. It’s ok to cry now, too.

Make Some Special Plans Just for You

Now’s the perfect time to schedule a weekend getaway with your spouse or a girl’s weekend. You’ve got some free time and it’s time for you to enjoy yourself. I would encourage you to go on a weekend (or longer) getaway even if you think you’ll just mope around the whole time. There’s something about getting out of the normal routine that helps us develop a new outlook and renews our spirit.

If you feel inclined, head off for a weekend alone for a self-care retreat and spend time getting to know the one person you probably haven’t spent much time thinking about lately: yourself.

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Take Some Time to Create Some New Routines

My favorite time of day now is in the evening when my husband gets home. I serve dinner and then we each take our plate over to the couch where we enjoy our meal while watching some quality TV. Our current favorite is Flip or Flop Atlanta; we enjoy screaming “What? There’s no way you can get that done so cheaply!”

You might enjoy an evening yoga class, taking up a new hobby, or revisiting an old one. Now that we no longer use our dining room table, I’ve been enjoying setting up a jigsaw puzzle to fill that space.

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Spend Some Time Getting to Know Yourself Again

If you want to make new routines that you enjoy, you must first know just what you enjoy. And that can be tough after years as a mom. You’ve spent years putting the needs of others ahead of your own. Now it’s your time and your turn to find out what you like and what you want. I’ve created a free e-book of journaling activities you can use to get to know yourself again and I’ve got some other suggestions as well about ways to get to know yourself again.

Line Up Some Extra Support for Your First Week

Change is hard! Lean on your friends for support. Or reach out to a therapist for a discussion. It can be very helpful to have someone to talk to as your life is evolving.

If you want a little extra support during your transition to the empty nest, sign up for my free e-mail series, “Thriving in Your Empty Nest.” You’ll receive an email every day for 7 days to provide support and encouragement as you go through your first days as an empty nester. Each e-mail will also have tips and exercises to help you adjust to your new normal and thrive during this exciting new phase of your life.

Need a Little Extra Support?

New empty nester? Anticipating (or maybe dreading) that upcoming college drop-off? We’ve got your back!

Sign up now for Midlife Rambler’s 7-Day email series, Thriving in Your Empty Nest,  and you’ll receive an email every day for the next seven days (plus a few bonuses) filled with support, tips, and ideas to help you transition to the next exciting phase of your life!

It’s on the way! Check your inbox for your first email!

You’ll also receive the Midlife Rambler weekly newsletter where you’ll be the first to hear about new freebies. Unsubscribe at any time.

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Katy Kozee | Midlife Rambler

Hi! I'm Katy and I started Midlife Rambler when my youngest child was a senior in high school. I was staring at the coming empty nest and wondering what was next for me. Does that sound like you? Then you’ll love our community of fun, feisty women. We’re looking forward to finally focusing (just a little) on ourselves and talking about all the things we enjoy: fashion, beauty, travel, entertaining, and being the best possible you.

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