Empty Nester Syndrome? 5 Ways to Find Purpose

Your kids are in high school and your life is mayhem: meal preps, school stress, sports, peer pressure, drugs and alcohol, college selections, not to mention the late night pick ups from their job or that 2 am party.  All this while you and your husband work full-time jobs.  You have no time for anything and you find yourself looking forward to the day they’re all out of the house.  But when the time comes, you’re not as happy as you thought you’d be.  So what now?

I went through this transformation from busy mom to empty nester very quickly because my kids are a year apart.  I remember thinking of all the things I was going to do when they were gone.  But all I did was come home from work, flop on the couch, watch TV and drink wine.  Before long, I found myself feeling bored and unfulfilled. When my kids were home, I had a sense of purpose and never realized how much I loved being a mom. Who was I kidding? I actually thrived on that busy schedule and missed the days of non-stop action.  I realized I was going through Empty Nest Syndrome and I had to get some purpose back into my life.

Psychology Today describes Empty Nest Syndrome as “a feeling of loneliness or sadness that occurs among parents after children grow up and leave home.”

Here are 5 things you can do to combat Empty Nester Syndrome and experience more fulfillment at home.

Start Purging

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There’s no time like now to get rid of all your junk.  The old furniture you thought you would keep for your kids, they don’t want it.  All those old clothes you were keeping will never get worn, so out they go. With the financial burden of university, you may need some extra money so try having a garage sale or sell your items on sites like Kijiji or Craig’s List.  Or donate all your items to charity re-sellers like Value Village and the Salvation Army.  Getting your house in order can be very fulfilling and will go along way to assisting with the transition of downsizing when the time comes.

Begin Working Out

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Your doctor is going to tell you to do it anyway, so you might as well jump on the fitness bandwagon.  If you can’t afford to join a gym, there are so many web sites that offer online exercise regimes, from yoga to kickboxing. Start slow so you don’t injure yourself. I began by walking the dog everyday and bought a bike this summer.  I now do 10 minutes of stretching every morning which is a great way to start your day and keep your muscles limber. Keep adding more ways to exercise as you feel stronger and get into a routine. If you’re still feeling unmotivated, pick a night and ask a friend to join you or hire a personal trainer to keep yourself committed.

Find a Hobby

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If you sit down and think about it, you have more interests within you than you think do now. They’ve just been dormant for awhile.  When you had kids, there was no time to read, but now you can join a reading club or just read for an hour each night.  When I was in high school, I really loved the art program so I bought some paints and canvases at Michael’s with my 50% off coupon (never go to Michael’s without your 50% off coupon), and started painting.  I’m also taking a photography course. Joining a club or taking a class forces you to make a commitment each week and it’s also a great way to meet new people.  Just find something that you really love doing.

Reconnect with Old Friends

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Sometimes seeing friends from your past who you have not seen for a long time can be a bit intimidating.  But I recently had a get together with some high school friends and I realized we’re all experiencing the same issues about empty nesting (not to mention the same issues with getting older). These groups have so many shared memories, and at this age, it’s fun to remember things you did so long ago.  I also just enjoyed a girls weekend with my old roommates from university. Joining Facebook is a great way to connect with friends from you past, especially those that live far away.

Travel More

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With your life now freed up, it’s time to travel and explore the world.  I realize that not everybody can afford to travel, but experiencing new cities and countries can bring a great deal of excitement to your life and can happen with careful planning.  Put money aside each week or each month for your travel fun.  Sometimes just a drive to a new city or a weekend away can be thrilling.  If you want cheap travel, start camping.  There’s nothing like feeling a connection with the world than staring at the stars at night.  Even in your own city, I’ll bet you can find 50 places you haven’t explored.  The internet can provide you with many resources for inexpensive travel – even planning your trip can be fulfilling!

man and woman holding hands walking on seashore during sunrise

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If all else fails, there’s your significant other to bring you fulfillment.  Reconnecting with your partner is one of the best things you can do.  As an empty nester, you can now spend more quality time together and do things you never did before.  Pick an activity or schedule a weekly date night.  That bike I bought?  My husband and I try to do a regular bike ride on Saturdays.  Traveling? We plan one awesome trip a year and do weekend excursions.  Friends?  We socialize more than ever. For me, I’ve realized I’d better use the best of my time before my health fails or the grandkids come along!

Feel like you have Empty Nester Syndrome?

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