I never thought the day would come. After years of taking my children from one lesson or sports practice to another, my youngest will soon be going off to college. I work part time, but there will still be a lot of time to fill. How will I cope?
The time after the kids have left home for college or that first job is always bittersweet for parents. Some experience the proverbial “Empty Nest. Syndrome,” which, according to Psychology Today, “refers to feelings of depression, sadness, and/or grief experienced by parents and caregivers after children come of age and leave their childhood homes.” Other stressors, such as financial pressures or health problems, can compound the problem. Empty Nest Syndrome can be especially hard for women, who have often been their children’s primary caregivers, and who may be experiencing menopause around the same time the lasy child leaves.
But before giving in to the post-child blues, it’s important to remember that there’s a bright side to all this as well. For the first time in years, your time is your own. Here are five reasons for enjoying your time after kids.
1. You’re an achiever. You did it! You’ve just created another productive adult, ready contribute to society. Reward yourself for a job well done.
2. The world is your oyster. After so many years of caring for your family, you now have time on your hands, and that’s a good thing. Now you can return to school, cultivate interests you’ve always wanted to pursue, volunteer, and catch up on your reading. If you have demands on your wallet, you can use your newly acquired time to build up your skills and make some money.
3. You can connect better, and with more people. Whether it’s spending more quality time with your partner, really listening to the stories of an aging relative, or just getting in touch with an old friend on Facebook, you can have a wider, more interesting social life than ever before. Just take the time for it.
4. You have “me” time. Go for a walk. Take a long bath. Drink tea. Read the paper. There will be fewer interruptions from here on out.
5. They still need you. You may have more time to just be you, but you’re still your children’s parent. Whether they are having a crisis in love or work, or just want someone to talk to, they expect you to be there for them with a listening ear and a warm heart. By making the most of your “empty nest” time, you can continue to support your children as they take flight beyond it.
“Empty Nest Syndrome.” Diagnosis Dictionary. Psychology Today.