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Learning to Live with an Empty Nest

Learning to Live with an Empty Nest

For many parents, having a child flee the nest can be a difficult and emotional experience; one that can leave them with a burning question they never had the luxury of pondering before: What do I do now?

If you find yourself in this situation, the good news is that there's plenty you can do. Here's a quick list:

  • Allow yourself time to grieve. When you've had your child with you for 18 years, it's normal to feel the loss of not having them part of your daily life. Give yourself time to grieve and adjust. In time, you'll get accustomed to your new normal and may even embrace some of the benefits, including a whole lot less laundry.
  • Celebrate this magnificent milestone. Your child has made it to college! That means all your hard work teaching independence and academic discipline has paid off. Take some time to praise and reward yourself for this tremendous accomplishment.
  • Take up new hobbies. Often parenting involves putting aside your own needs to meet the needs of your child. Over the years, that may have left you little time to take up hobbies or even to travel. Now is an ideal time to start doing things for yourself.
  • Focus on other relationships. If you have a spouse or partner, use this time to reconnect and spend quality time together. You can also connect with other family members and friends you haven't had the time to see.
  • Work on your career. Do you have specific goals you would like to accomplish in your career? Maybe you seek to learn a new skill or pursue a promotion. You may even want to go back to school. Now's a great time to focus on your goals.
  • Find ways to communicate with your child. Although your child may not be physically with you, you can use technology to stay in touch. Talk to your child about the best way to stay in regular contact and make time to connect.

The best thing you can do during this time is take care of yourself. Then, when your child comes home for breaks, you'll be refreshed and ready to tackle one of the most difficult challenges of all — their overflowing laundry bag.

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