Thursday, August 29, 2013

7 Strategies for New Empty Nesters (Part 2 of 2)

Some parents struggle with this new stage more than others, but for every parent, having your last child leave home is undoubtably a time of great change and mixed emotions. On one hand you are excited for your child and feel happy for the new stage of life they are entering, but on the other, there is a certain amount of grief that is felt with their growing up and becoming more independent- becoming less dependent on you. 

There are several emotional and psychological changes one can make to try to ease some of the negative feelings associated with becoming an empty nester, such as changing your perspective (instead of thinking you are done parenting remember your role as a parent is simply changing, instead of thinking of this as the end think of it as a beginning, ect), allowing yourself to grieve, and so on- but there are also many activities you can participate in to maximize your happiness during this new chapter and minimize the anxiety and sadness. So we have compiled a list of 7 things you can do to kickstart your new life as an empty nester!

1. Make a list of goals 
They can be goals for this week, this year, or the next ten years, but writing down what types of things you would like to get accomplished in this new stage will help you to feel more excited and less nervous about the changing situation. 

2. Get busy!
Initially you will have more trouble controlling some of the emotional upset and negative thoughts, so it is important to keep yourself busy! Fill up your schedule as much as possible- go to the gym, clean the house, treat yourself to a pedicure, meet up with friends- anything to get your mind off things for a while!

3. Tell them you miss them- but not too much
As hard as it might be, let your kids call you not the other way around. They are going to be really busy getting involved in school and making new friends. But when they do call, don't feel like you can't tell them that you miss them or are thinking about them, this is a scary time with big changes for your child as well, so it will probably comfort them and mean a lot to hear those things from you. But don't tell them too much about how much you miss them because that might make them feel sad or guilty. 

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4. Focus on your marriage
Once all the kids are out of the house, the dynamics between you and your husband are going to be changing for the first time in almost two decades, so really take this time to enjoy the changing relationship. Go on some special dates, make a bucket list, do something really fun together and just enjoy each other's company. 

5. Focus on your career or a new hobby
If you are a working mom, use this time to really dive into and get ahead in your career. If you were a stay at home mom, use the newfound freedom and less hectic schedule to start to do some things you have wanted to do but haven't had time for. Plant a garden, learn how to be a better cook, learn a new language- the possibilities are endless! This is the first time in your life since having children that you can really truly step back and work on yourself, so enjoy it!

6. Start a new workout routine
Continuing with the theme of working on yourself, this is the perfect time to get into a really good work out routine! Especially if you're having a down day, hitting the gym, getting some blood circulating and some endorphins pumping is almost guaranteed to make you feel better! Eating healthy and exercising aren't only good for your physical health, but excellent for your mental health as well.

7. Schedule a Girls' Night Out- or ten
There is nothing like a night out with the girls to make you feel better when you're down. And now that it is just you and your husband around, you'll have more down time- so call up your girlfriends and plan a night out with plenty of wine! With the hectic schedules and busy-ness of motherhood, it is easy to let weeks or even months slip by without getting together, so really use this time to focus on your friendships and make Girls Night Out a regular part of your new routine. Maybe even try to cultivate some new friendships or get together with a few acquaintances, you never know who you can have certain things in common with that can turn into a great friendship. 

Comment below and tell us what strategies you used to cope with becoming an empty nester! 

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