Empty Nest Ideas for Adjusting to Your New Life

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Explore these practical and inspiring empty nest ideas that will help you adjust to your new life as an empty-nester.

You’ll discover more about the feelings associated with empty nest syndrome and tips for coping with them. From rediscovering passions to embracing self-care and diving into new learning experiences, these strategies aim to help you navigate a unique phase of life.

Continue reading to learn more.

CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn empty nest ideas and strategies to cope with common feelings in empty nest syndrome, including:

Reclaiming the Coop: How to Cope with Empty Nest Syndrome

empty nest ideas for coping
Empty Nest Syndrome is real.
(Image credit: Robert Thiemann, Unsplash)

When the time comes for your children to spread their wings and leave the family home, you may notice yourself feeling a range of emotions.

Whether your child is getting married, going to college, or starting a new job, their departure can often leave parents feeling like, “Now what?”

You may experience feelings of loneliness, anxiety, or grief, and that’s completely normal! This phenomenon is commonly referred to as empty nest syndrome, and it won’t last forever. 

As a parent, you’ve invested a significant amount of time and energy into raising your children. When they leave, you may find themselves with more free time and a sense of emptiness.

Empty nest syndrome is not a clinical diagnosis. Rather, it’s a colloquial term for describing the emotional adjustment some parents go through during this life transition.

If you can relate, continue reading to learn empty nest ideas for coping.

Signs of Empty Nest Syndrome

While not every parent deals with empty nest syndrome, some may feel a loss of purpose or anxiety about the future or their child’s life away from home.

You may feel restless or unable to focus on work, wondering how your children are doing or where they are. Perhaps you feel a nagging sense of loneliness, despite having a partner, friends, and other family. 

The symptoms of empty nest syndrome look different from person to person, though.

You may not have the energy or motivation to do the things you enjoy. Perhaps you are not sure of what to even do with all this extra time now.

At one point, you were a full-time parent, but now you might be wondering how to fill your days without your child’s former routine to maintain.

Or, maybe you’re frustrated by all the emotions you’re dealing with in the midst of a lifestyle change and feel out of control.

You may even feel emotionally exhausted; one minute, you’re planning a well-deserved vacation, and the next, you’re crying in your child’s former bedroom wondering if they’ve made their new bed. 

Interestingly, you may not be a parent but feel like an empty nester. If you’re divorced, it’s possible to experience empty nest syndrome if your former spouse gets remarried.

Empty nest syndrome can also affect grandparents, caregivers, and late child-bearers.

At any rate, losing the closeness of being under the same roof as a loved one certainly comes with its own kind of grief.

Here are some tips to help you adapt.

5 Tips for Adapting to A New Lifestyle | Empty Nesting

For some couples, being empty nesters means having to redefine your relationship and rediscover who you are–individually and as a unit–outside of your identity as a parent.

Now, you have the time and freedom to explore hobbies and connect with others that you may not have been able to when you were raising your kid(s).

To adjust to and cope with your life as an empty nester, consider some of the following empty nest ideas and strategies:

1. Get to Know Your Kids as Adults

Now that your children are grown and able to take care of themselves, consider different ways of communicating and engaging with them as you navigate your new role in their lives.

2. Exercise Regularly

Getting active can do wonders to lift your spirits. Plus, research shows that people who exercise regularly are more satisfied with their lives as they age.

3. Reassess What You Value

Taking stock of your values and what is important to you can help you figure out what you want out of this new stage in life. Identify ways to spend your time meaningfully, like volunteering.

4. Take Time for Yourself

Invest in new interests or hobbies, and try to find new ways to bring joy to your life during this unfamiliar time.

Some of the uplifting things you might consider include:

  • Going on a vacation
  • Getting in touch with long-lost relatives or friends
  • Trying different forms of self-care, like meditation or yoga

5. Embrace Lifelong Learning

Check out courses, workshops, or read up on topics that interests you, including books about empty nesting. It’s not just about keeping your mind active but also gaining insights that can make navigating this life stage more interesting and informed.

Empty Nest Syndrome, Or Something Deeper?

Yes, it is normal to feel somewhat anxious or depressed for a few weeks after your child first leaves home. At the same time, your partner or friends who are fellow parents may be dealing with these feelings as empty nesters, even if they do not appear to be struggling on the outside.

Understand that you’re not alone, and don’t be afraid to talk to others about what you are going through. 

If empty nest syndrome persists and begins to affect your ability to function or keep up with responsibilities on a daily basis, consider seeing a mental health professional.

While the American Psychological Association does not formally categorize empty nest syndrome as a psychiatric condition, it can lead to or exacerbate existing mental health concerns.

Most empty nesters will adjust to their new routines within two months. If you have been struggling with empty nest syndrome for longer than a few months, you may be dealing with an underlying mental health condition, like depression or anxiety.

Mental health issues brought on by empty nest syndrome may also include financially risky or thrill-seeking behaviors, as well as substance use disorders. Some empty nesters may struggle with drugs or alcohol as they cope with having one less head under their roof.

Nevertheless, there are a variety of treatment options for mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and addiction. 

Final Thoughts on Empty Nest Ideas to Cope

Becoming an empty nester can have a real impact on your mental health as a parent.

On one hand, there’s a sense of pride and accomplishment seeing your kids grow and fly the coop. On the other hand, the quiet house and absence of daily parenting responsibilities can hit hard. Some parents might feel a sense of loss, loneliness, or even a touch of sadness. 

It’s a big adjustment, and you may be asking yourself, “What’s my role now?” It varies from person to person, but many eventually find new ways to fill their time, whether through personal hobbies, reconnecting with each other, or exploring new interests. Try these empty nest ideas to cope with your transition as an empty-nester.

Communication and support are crucial during this transition, and if you are struggling mentally and the feelings of emptiness don’t go away, don’t be afraid to seek help.

About the Author

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Rinn Norman is an Atlanta, GA-based editor, writer, and Awareness Advocate at LiveAnotherDay.org. You can also find her teaching freshman composition at Kennesaw State University or tending to her many houseplants.

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About Jackie Gately, editor-IN-CHIEF

I'm Jackie Gately, your travel confidante and the creative force behind Enjoy Travel Life, awarded the "Best Casual-Luxury Lifestyle Blog (USA)" in Travel and Tourism by LUXlife Magazine for four consecutive years.

With 25 years of published expertise, I'm a seasoned writer, editor, and photographer curating inspiring travel guides and lifestyle tips for empty nesters. I hope to kindle your spirit of exploration, encouraging you to overcome obstacles and turn your dreams into reality.

Learn to minimize your pre-travel angst and maximize the joy of exploration with insights from my experiences. Let's make every adventure a celebration of this exciting phase of life! 

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