Empty Nest Syndrome-Children Leaving Home, What Do I Do Now?

empty-nest-syndrome Empty nest syndrome refers to the feelings of sadness, grief, depression, loneliness, emptiness and loss when children grow up, leave for college, get married, or leave home to live on their own. “Empty-nesters” can either be mothers or fathers, but mothers are primarily the ones who have difficulty dealing with or coping with an empty nest when children begin leaving home to live their lives as adults.

What do I do now?, What can I do now?, are questions empty-nesters commonly ask before, during or after learning their children are leaving home, since parents have spent most of their lives focused on raising children, caring for the home and family, until suddenly the kids are gone.

Are you an empty-nester? Are your children leaving home to head off to college? Are your children getting married soon, moving away or getting their own home? Is your son or daughter leaving home soon, leading you to ask yourself, What do I do after my children leave home?

Empty Nest Syndrome

First, let me say, Congratulations! Give yourself a big pat on the back for having raised your children in such a way that you’re not dealing with adult children living at home years after kids should have left home and begun living their lives as full grown, successful, independent adults.

You have taught your children how to be an adult, and you should be congratulated! You have cut the apron strings by letting go, and the “tied to his mother’s apron strings” quote doesn’t apply to you in regards to your son or daughter leaving home. Trust me, you don’t want to deal with the “revolving door syndrome” so common in today’s society. Good for you!

If you are trying to deal with an empty nest now, or will be an empty-nester sometime soon, please understand you’re not alone. Many moms and dads are trying to cope with empty nest feelings and emotions just like you are, and no two people deal with stressful situations like this the same way, so patience, understanding and empathy are important.

What Do I Do Now? What Can I Do Now?

What do I do after my children leave home? There are many things you can do, should do or need to do now that your children have left home and you are alone at last. It’s time to change your focus on being a parent and the responsibilities of parenting children still living at home, and direct your time and energies towards other things you can do that bring you enjoyment, pleasure and a sense of fulfillment.

Ask yourself, if you could do it all over again, what are some “coulda, shoulda, woulda” things you wish you had done before getting married or before having children? The answer to “What do I do now” is that you now have time to take a life inventory on yourself and start doing the things you have always wanted to do but never could before.

children-leaving-home It’s time to get busy! Put your thinking cap on and get those creative juices flowing, and come up with a “What I Can Do Now” list now that the kids are grown and gone. Go back to school to get your high school diploma, or get the college degree you always wanted. Rekindle the romance with your spouse and fire up your marriage by spending time together and bringing back the fun and excitement experienced when you were dating or before the kids came along.

Do some volunteer work; find a new hobby; join an active online support group for encouragement. Travel! Take a cruise, rent an RV and stay at RV parks while traveling, or check out the cost of Flights and buy a plane ticket to visit places you’ve always wanted to see but couldn’t. (I recommend the Philippines) Learn a new language! You can do what I’m doing and learn spanish online, or you can learn japanese online or any other language you have wanted to learn but never had the time.

Or, here’s an idea for you and it’s completely FREE! I bet, after raising your children, you probably have lots of interesting mom, dad, grandpa or grandma stories to tell. Why not start a free blog and write stories about whatever topics you are passionate about? If you’re wondering what is a blog, you’re reading a “blog post” right now about Empty Nest Syndrome. Get it?

Are you dealing with empty nest syndrome? What are some things you have found that helped you cope with your children leaving home? What is on your What I Can Do Now list? Share your ideas, suggestions, tips and advice in the comment section below.

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48 Responses to “Empty Nest Syndrome-Children Leaving Home, What Do I Do Now?”

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  1. LeeAnn says:

    Wow…to find out how many people are going through the same thing. It does help. It gives some hope.

    My youngest son left once, called me at 2am crying and said he needed to come back home. I work 12 hour midnight shifts but left at 6am for the 2 hour drive to pick him up. I went through the expense of paying for him, my daughter, my husband and I to make the 12 hour drive to see my parents for 10 days. For the first time since he’d left I felt my family was complete again. Once we hit our home state border he asked me to drop him off in the city so he could go see the ex girlfriend again. When I refused he went nuts. Screamed at me for almost an hour, calling me an idiot and telling me what a horrible mother I was. Yesterday he apologized, crying once again. But also told me he is eventually planning to move back to the ex girlfriends. Needless to say it’s been a terrible rollercoaster.

    I entertained the idea of moving closer to my parents, thinking I could take care of them. But my two brothers at 48 and 51, both live with her. Usually when I’m there I feel like I don’t belong at all.

    I have a full time career. I am married. I too have had a hard time thinking of what my hobby choices might be. Until now my answer was to pack everything in and move away from everyone. To hide more or less. I realized my friends were all my kids friends, my life was trully revolved around their every move. Today, I realize I need to look harder and find an answer. Thank you, everyone. I feel your pain, my heart is broken. But I see I need to move on.

  2. Cathy says:

    I’m 57 years old with 2 daughters, ages 21 and 16. My older daughter has left home and is out on her own. She works as a waitress – she’s good at it and likes her job – and lives in a group situation with her boyfriend and a group of friends. My younger daughter is 16 and a junior in high school. She is an artist and plans to attend art school when she graduates and study animation and voice characterization. I’m already dreading her leaving home 2 years from now. She and I are very close, and I’ll be lost without her here to watch crazy stuff on TV with. My relationship with my older daughter has had rough spots in the past. She is a diabetic, and her teen years were difficult because of that. We have a nice, cordial relationship, but it’s not as close as I wish it could be. There are so many things I wish I had said and done when she was younger. I feel very sad now that I hurt her and wish I could make it up to her. I worry about her because of the diabetes and wonder if she’s taking care of herself properly, even though she looks fine. Over the past 10 days I have been weeping constantly, thinking obsessively about her infancy and remembering the days right after I brought her home from the hospital. I cried and cried last night thinking about rocking her to sleep and nursing her, about her learning to walk, about her waving to me out the window of the bus on her first day of school. (All this while the strains of “Baby Mine” from Disney’s Dumbo run through my head.) I’m also having nostalgic, teary flashbacks to my own childhood, remembering playing in the backyard of my old house. And what started all this seemed to be when, 10 days ago, I had all my upper teeth pulled. I’ve been going through this while adjusting to a denture. (Before I left the dentist’s office, I looked wistfully at my pulled teeth. Is it possible to grieve for teeth?)

    I know it would be good to “do something for myself”, but I’m afraid that our financial situation is so tight we can’t do much. I can’t really talk to my husband because he obsesses about the finances all the time. I’m really dreading not having the girls around because he doesn’t talk about anything except the mortgage and the bills that have to be paid. He’s gone most of the time anyway, working 2 jobs. We’ve had to spend a lot of money just getting my teeth taken care of.

    Does anyone have any ideas?

  3. angela says:

    As a mother it is hard work, always beening there for our children.
    I have 2 boys and their partners living at home with me. This week 2 had move away, and the other two are on holidays.
    I am happy for them, don’t get me wrong, it nice to see that our kids are making their way in life.
    But I feel lost, it is like time has almost stop. no longer that rush here, doing that.
    Now I just wait to see how long it takes them to contact me.
    As a friend said, when the kids become parents they become close contacted to the family again.
    Its life.

  4. ReeS says:

    IS there hope?
    I kind of wonder. I have been reading pages and pages and although a few seem to have gotten through, I read a lot of stories of parents, mostly mothers still grieving years later. I guess we’re just the pathetic ones who poured too much into the vessal and now have to walk around empty.

  5. Gracie says:

    My oldest daughter is 28 and lives 4 hours away. My 2nd daughter is now 21 and in her 4th year in college and living with her oldest sister. My son recently graduated from HS Spring 2012 and also joined his 2 sisters-living with them. My sister’s son also lives in the same city as my kids, so the two of us travel at least 1-2 times a month south to visit and baby our kids. My siblings share their grandkids with me and even call me “Grandma Gracie”, they tend to fill the emptiness; they invite me to watch their sports games. I work full time and look forward to going to work. My hobby includes quilting. Yes, I had my down time when my kids left home, but…they are still “alive and doing very well”. This feeling overrides the empty nest feeling. Enjoy life…U deserve it