So the time has come for the chicks to leave the nest. I can remember the time all of mine left home to start a new life for themselves. It was very much a time of change and uncertainty with many mixed emotions – happiness, sadness, pride, fear, joy, panic, to name but a few.
The family is like a nest of birds and the time comes for the young to move out leaving an empty space in the nest, as in the cycle of life everything keeps moving. There is a season for everything. September is the most common time for young adults to move out of home as they start going to college. While for others it can be any time of the year when they secure a new job. Getting married and starting up a new home. Some migrate and others have to emigrate. It is certainly a time of deep emotions for both the parents and young adults alike.
So what is this empty nest syndrome, it is a phenomenon which parents go through, research says it is mostly the mothers, but the jury is out on that one, in the past it was thought that it made parents depressed and vulnerable but now researchers can prove that it can be a time of change with benefits for parents. Parents have a new opportunity to reconnect with each other, have more time to spend together that can improve the quality of their relationship. A time for new interests, new hobbies, exploring possibilities that there was no time for before. A transition from being actively involved parent to being an independent person again. There is grief and loss, it is important to take time to go through the transition process.
How do we make this transition?
Prepare for the departure: When mine were getting ready for leaving to go to college I prepared myself by making up a hamper. I put everything I thought they would need from a plaster to pasta into the hamper. Each day or week adding something so I felt I had every eventuality covered. It gave me time to prepare myself, and I was focused on getting them sorted. Packing the hamper also gave me time to start to realise the change that was happening in our nest. Talking to your son or daughter about washing their clothes, cooking their food and general house hold duties is a great benefit for them for when they get there. Some of this I am sure has been done over the years, but for peace of mind it is good to talk, be enthusiastic and have fun.
Talking and discussing
Talking allows them a time to talk about their fears, and hopes about moving out. Try and calm the fears by looking at the reality of how they can cope, and reassuring them that you are always there, easily reached by phone, text, Skype, e-mail, and facetime etc. Discussing what the financial arrangements are, what is the best way to handle the finances. That way some of the fears will be dealt with.
Talk and use your own support system
This is the time when you call in the troops, and talk to family and friends. Empty nest is a grief, a transition and you need time to express your loss. You have been a parent for the last 17 or 40 years and now your role is changed. There is a loss, and new possibilities. Sometimes in transition we get stuck, we find it hard to move on. If you find yourself stuck, discuss it with your doctor, there are lots of supports out there. There are about 46,000 students leaving families each year to take up college places not counting all that start new job .So a lot of people are feeling the same and may have done in the past so there will be a lot of empathy for the way you are feeling, and naming it is a great start. To many stay silent, and feel shame about feeling sad. You are on the right track by naming how you feel.
Being resilient and moving forward will help you so remember to sleep well, eat well, exercise, meditate or find a way that you like to relax. Stay positive, and think of the new possibilities that there are out there for you. A world of new opportunities, you might even find yourself heading off to a new job, or taking a place in college. No matter what you do, you have done a great job to let your young adult leave the nest. Well done to you, time now to enjoy and celebrate.