Yes hunni, the empty nest lifestyle is a joyous time for some and for others it down right sucks but it doesn't have to always be this way.
Empty nest syndrome is a psychological condition that affects parents when their children grow up and leave home. Although not formally recognized as a medical term, it is a growing label that doctors and therapists use to describe the period of mourning that follows when your children pack up and go out on their own for the first time.
You may not know this but I became a mom for the very first time at the ripe young age of seventeen and carried on my daily mommy duties until the age of 45. And to add more icing on the cake, I became a grandmother in the process.
Truth be told, I had absolutely no clue on how not to live my life as a mom. It's something I had done for most of my adult life. And now I'm here. Approaching 45 years young, single with plenty of time on my hands. What to do?
Woohooo! Jump for joy and get my party on!
Honestly, I found myself contacting my kids for quality time more than ever. I was terribly bored, lonely and didn't know what to do with myself. I know it sounds pathetic but I'm sure I'm not alone.
Hey kids, come over. I'll cook. As if they weren't my personal taste testers for over 20 years.
Hey kids, there's this cool event coming up, would you like to go with me? Uhhhh. No mom. That's not my thing. Call one of your friends.
The heartbreak of separation. The longing for contact. The brief flights of manic optimism about the future. Sending your child off to college for the very first time. A love affair gone awry? No, worse – watching your baby boy leave home while wandering this crazy world without you while he goes on a quest in search of his manhood.
Yes, for a moment I too was on the sucky end of the empty nest syndrome spectrum. So much, that I dove down into a black hole of deep depression. I was weak. I was broken. I knew that I had to get past it quick fast and in a hurry. I needed to get on with my life.
With much prayer, faith and with a big dose of love from a couple of kickass friends, I did just that.
What about you? Are you stuck? Here's a few solutions to help you get over the home alone blues and on to doing you.
- First things first. Get real with yourself and your life. Retire to bedroom, close your door and let it all out. And I mean all of it. Admit that you possibly have a sorry career and/or social life. Admit that you have never had one single hobby. Breath and come to terms that you are totally lost. Whoa! That was a lot. You did it. It's over. Now let's move on.
- Consider applying for a sabbatical – a month or so in Paris, Rome, Vienna. Hell, Vegas if that makes you happy. You’re a free agent now, why not? Remember that you are not, in fact, mommy employed.
- Allow yourself ample time to mourn the loss of your child - the loss of him being there 24/7. Cry, mope and be depressed for a reasonable amount of time - a week or two. If you cannot get out of your funk after about 2 weeks, you may want to speak with you doctor, as you may be clinically depressed and need therapy to assist you.
- Rediscover your interests and delve back into them. You now have the time to focus on you, your interests and your passions. Take advantage and remember what you loved about writing, photography, take up a few college courses, mountain biking or whatever your heart fancies.
- No shame. Go to sleep at 9:30pm because there is no one home to make fun of you for it. Plus, for the first time you do not have to stay up till 1am wondering how and when the kids will be getting home.
- Date younger men.
- Date older men. Whatever. You're a hot momma. Just get back out there!
- Start an exercise program. I took up yoga and I'm loving it. Exercising will not only keep you busy and focused, rather than moping around the house, but it will also keep you healthy and happier and who knows who you'll meet while showing off your new glow.
- Take yourself on a wardrobe upgrade shopping spree. Yes get you some new frocks and if you want to go a step further, get you a new hairdo boo! If you hadn't noticed I went all the way in recently with my platinum crop. It's something I've always wanted to do and I rocked it.
- Decide to make plans instead: Tennis lessons, wine-tasting classes, theater tickets, foreign language immersion. Twerk lessons if you're feeling it. Remember those kids of yours are grown and on their own. No shame. Do you!
- Rejoice that you no longer have to cook a healthy dinner every night. Eat chocolate fudge brownie ice cream in bed while watching re-runs of Scandal. Wash it down with red wine and feel virtuous that you are getting your anti-oxidants.
- Face the cold hard fact that if this continues you will weigh 500 pounds. Therefore, vow to eat more healthily. Visit your local farmer's market and buy a plethora of locally-grown fruits, vegetables and antibiotic-free lean white meat. Forget that you are only feeding one. Throw half of it out a week later.
- Get a life. Your life.
I understand that getting over the kids leaving the nest is easier said than done but it's definitely a time in your life to embrace finding yourself again. What did you wanna be when you grew up? Think of it as a brand new shiny you with a chance to do all those things that you put on hold to raise a family way back when.
Please understand that I absolutely love my kids with every fiber of my being but there was more to Della than just motherhood. I had to find exactly what those things were.
I wish the same for you during this amazing new journey in your life and I would love to hear from you.
Shine on girlfriend,