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Avoiding that ‘Empty Nest’ Feeling By Susan Brookes-Morris

Many of us will drop our child off at university for the first time this year. Or maybe they’re moving to another part of the country...or world. Along with the justifiable pride and excitement we feel at their achievement a few negative emotions will undoubtedly creep in: sadness, loss, fear and anxiety. We’ll wonder how our baby grew up so quickly and worry about how they will cope with being away from home, and how we will cope with their absence. These feelings are sometimes called ‘Empty Nest Syndrome.’

Find a hobby or sport to fill the extra time. Perhaps something you’ve longed to do but felt family commitments prevented, be that yoga, fishing or painting.

You could even follow your child’s lead and study something new. This could be taking language or woodwork lessons at the local college, or enrolling on an Open University course, taking a professional qualification or undertaking a degree yourself.

If you’ve let your career stall whilst bringing up the children now may be the chance to re -ignite it. Or you could use your increased time and energies to start a new business, or volunteer.

When we look for the positive in a situation it opens up a whole new range of opportunities which will help us shine as an individuals, build our confidence and increase our sense of well-being - exactly the same things in fact that we wish for our children embarking on their new life at university.

Statistics show that some parents find this time so difficult that they become depressed, and marriages may even break down as a result of the change.

You should share any concerns, ideally with your partner if you have one as they may also be experiencing mixed emotions. Or you could speak to a close friend, or seek support from a counselling service. Sometimes just hearing someone else say that your reaction is perfectly normal and talking things through really helps.

When a child leaves home we may have more than half of our life left to live. It’s a perfect time to take stock and create a wish list of things to do or try. Focussing attention on these will help manage the transition to a new lifestyle more easily and highlight the opportunities it brings.

It can be good to put more energy into nurturing a relationship. Find new activities to share together; take time to sit and talk, or to do the things you used to love to do before children came along.

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