The Nest Is Empty
Empty-nest syndrome is no joke. Many women experience a dramatic change when a child leaves home, and the emotions that accompany this change are normal. These changes become even more difficult if you are experiencing menopause at the same time. It is very important to understand what empty-nest syndrome is and to know that you are not alone with your feelings or your experiences.
Empty-Nest Syndrome Defined
While you won't find empty-nest syndrome in medical text books, it is the name given to the psychological condition that many women experience as their children leave home. Men can experience a sense of sadness as well, but this syndrome most often refers to women. Women usually experience these emotions in the fall, as their children go off to college or to other pursuits for the first time. They might also find themselves feeling this way as a child gets married, since marriage truly signifies a change in the child's status and a breaking away from the parents and family unit.
Empty-Nest Syndrome Is Normal
It is completely normal to have many emotions as your children leave home. Whether you've been home taking care of your children exclusively for years, or you've been working and juggling parenthood, this time period signals a change. Your children won't need you in the same way that they have up until now, and your sense of purpose each day needs to be redefined.
Difficulty for a Marriage
Many couples also find that this can be a difficult adjustment. While their role, for so many years, has been to discuss the children, to bond over the children and to work together for the benefit of the children, they are now left to get to know each other again and to experience life as a couple. This can be a surprising change for many couples. Some experience empty-nest syndrome in a positive way and see it as a chance to enjoy time together again, to vacation together and to have more "me" and "us" time. Others are scared by this change, as they really haven't been a couple in so many years.
While it is normal to feel sadness with empty-nest syndrome, there are definitely some times when your emotions might be a signal for needing help. If you feel your life is now useless, if you find yourself crying excessively and if you are so sad that you don't want to mix with friends or with your spouse, then you may want to seek help. Sometimes, a change of this nature can unleash depression and this depression needs attention. This is particularly true if you are experiencing menopause, and the emotions related to menopause, simultaneously.
Tips to Ease the Transition
While experiencing empty-nest syndrome, there are a number of things that you can do to help yourself. Lean on your friends, some of whom may be experiencing the same emotions and events in their lives. Be kind to yourself and treat yourself with some extra love and care. Enjoy a bubble bath, take yourself for a spa treatment, go to a movie, or do something extra for yourself that you'll enjoy. You may want to establish a routine with the child that just left as well. If you know that you speak to your son every other day at a specific time, this will help to ease your anxiety and to give you more focus.
Self-Esteem and Marriage
Try, as well, to take a look at your self esteem and your marriage during this period. If your self esteem has been closely tied to your parenting, then it may be difficult for you to redefine yourself at this time. Give yourself some time to do so, and try to see this as an exciting adventure. You've reached a new stage in your life and one that will allow you to redefine yourself and your needs. Try, as well, to see your marriage in a new light and to come together as a couple. You've been busy with children for a long time now. It's time for you to have your own time together, now, and to enjoy that chance. If you are a single parent, this could be the opportunity for dating that you haven't had time for, or for reconnecting with friends. You've come to a new stage in your life. It is one that you'll need to get used to, but with time, you should be able to enjoy it and to have more time for yourself and your spouse as a result of it.