Combat Empty Nest Syndrome Before it Happens

Waving your kids off 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.

Even though the moment isn’t here yet and you’re trying to soak up every second available with your children, it’s important to plan for what is to come rather than simply ignoring it. Your kids will be in college soon. Therefore, now is the time to develop a plan to help you cope with the sadness of the separation.

Try these techniques to help you prepare yourself for an empty nest:

1. Look forward to enjoying your new found 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 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.

2. Reconnect with your spouse. After raising the children for so many years, living alone with your spouse is something that may feel new to you again. Now is the moment to feel like newlyweds! Reconnect with one another on a deeper level than you have in the last twenty years or so.

  • Every night is date night! Make something special for dinner a few times each week and then go out on the town on the weekends.
  • Take the time to enjoy this milestone in your relationship. You’ve raised wonderful children together; you’ve succeeded as parents and have held a successful marriage. You’re living the American dream – have a toast to your success!

3. Plan a home improvement project. Properly planning a home improvement project takes time. Therefore, use the few months ahead while the kids are still at home to redo their bedroom once they’re off in college.

  • Turning their bedroom into a gym may be too much of a change. So, take baby steps. Turn their bedroom into a guest bedroom. By doing so, you can comfortably accommodate both your adult children and guests.
  • Add a home office area to the bedroom so your kids can have a place to study when they come home on breaks. In addition, a simple armchair for reading, fresh paint, new linens and accessories will make for a hotel-like retreat that guests can appreciate.
  • Generally, most teens won’t feel as if they’re being slighted when their childhood bedroom is given a makeover. If anything, they’ll feel better knowing that their parents are just as excited about the change.

In addition to all of the tips outlined above, plan ways to connect with your children while they’re in college. Plan to send care packages, have weekly video chats, monthly visits, and holidays together. 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 and all of the benefits involved for your youngster. You aren’t losing a child; you’re gaining a college graduate!

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