Taking your kids to college is undoubtedly a bittersweet moment. You're proud that your children are on their way to adulthood. Nevertheless, you're saddened by the fact that they'll soon be off in a dorm room with strangers rather than home in their beds or traveling to foreign countries without you. Some high school graduate elect to take a “gap” year to volunteer, explore other countries and learn different cultures. Either way they are not at home.
We all cope with it in different ways. Last year I did a survey of 61friends. Most were women, between that ages of 45-64 with 2 or more children. 79% were married and it was split evenly between stay at home parent, part-time employee, full-time employee and business owner. When asked about their emotions with their children leaving Mixed Feelings and Happy were tied around 49%, whereas Relieved and Lonely were tied at around 1% each.
When asked the last two questions, the responses were interesting.
Spend Extra Time
- Self Improvement – 44%
- Volunteering – 22%
- New Career – 21%
- Taking Care of Aging Parents – 10%
- New Hobby – 3%
What is Most Important
- Healthy Aging- 76%
- Improved Sleep – 11%
- More Energy – N/S
- Weight Loss – 13%
Since Empty Nesters are taking their children to schools over the next few weeks, I thought I would offer some techniques to help.
Try these techniques to help you prepare yourself for an empty nest:
- Look forward to enjoying your newfound freedom. While your kids are enjoying their freedom away at college, you too can rejoice in your newfound freedom away from the kids and their limiting schedules.
- You'll be able to host dinner parties on weeknights, lounge around with your spouse or friends without sharing the TV, take vacations during the school year, join clubs or become more active in your church community.
- This is the time to rediscover your interests. For so long, you've put your wants on the backburner. But now, you can fully explore your interests and find a hobby that helps you feel needed, appreciated, and offers gratification.
- Reconnect with your spouse, partner or friend. Talk to your partner about what is important to them, tell them what you want as well and find ways to reconnect. Recently I had this conversation with my husband. We felt that our lives have been conquering and dividing to achieve our goals. Make list of what you both want and prioritize – make it happen! I wrote a blog a while back that you can reference for some ideas: https://www.alisonandco.com/how-to-reconnect-with-your-partner/
- Make Healthy Aging a Priority. There is so much information about aging. What we do know is that we must get proper rest, hydration, eat nutritious foods and exercise. Maintaining and building lean muscle is a key component to helping maintain or improve your overall health. It’s important that we all take Healthy Aging seriously.
In addition to all of the tips outlined above, plan ways to connect with your children while they're in college. Send care packages, have weekly video chats, plan visits, and holidays. However, refrain from saying: "Call us every night" as this will likely cause your child to feel guilty when unable to call.
It's vital to remember that this is uncharted territory for everyone involved; it's certainly a mixed bag of emotions. All you can do is to try your best to look at the bright side.
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