UPDATED: Feb 25, 2020
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As summer begins to dwindle away, many parents turn their attention to the beginning of another school year. While most parents enjoy their children’s company 24/7, back to school can also bring sweet relief. There is finally time to get to those chores that have been waiting all summer. And perhaps even a chance to – gasp – have time for yourself again! The new-found freedom may not always bring welcome changes though, as the Empty Nest Syndrome can strike unprepared parents.
‘Empty Nest Syndrome’ is often experienced by caregivers or parents when children leave home to go to college and, to a lesser extent, when younger children start school in the fall. The syndrome can bring feelings of depression, confusion, fear, and anxiety. All of these feelings are understandable, considering the lifestyle changes that come along with a newly empty and quiet home. Don’t let yourself fall into a slump this fall, stay active and fulfilled with the following tips.
Connect with Friends
Call up your friends who are also empty-nesters. Meet for coffee, take walks or explore hobbies together! If you don’t have any available friends, look for online meet-up groups to find people who are also looking for friends to hang out with. This may also be an excellent opportunity to spend some extra time with your spouse, just like the good ole’ days!
It’s been said that exercise is nearly as effective as medication in battling mild depression. This isn’t hard to believe if you have ever experienced the ‘runner’s high.’ Now that the kids are out of the house use some of your new free time to enjoy some exercise. This doesn’t have to mean running a marathon, unless you want to, of course. A brisk walk, yoga or fitness classes should do the job. Be sure to talk to your doctor first to see what types of exercise are appropriate for you.
It can be easier to talk about hobbies than to spend time on them, especially when there’s a nice comfy couch calling your name. Then there are all those shows you’ve Tivo’d. Set a schedule for yourself and stick to it. If your hobby ceases to be enjoyable to you, take a break from it and pick up something else you’ve meant to try. Setting goals for your hobbies will give you a sense of accomplishment and will be a source of pride for you when the goals have been reached.
Get a Job
If all else fails, a part-time or seasonal job can help prevent boredom and keep an empty-nester occupied. Having a job also gives you a sense of obligation and a feeling of being needed by someone other than your children. Be sure to pick a job you will enjoy, and one that will allow you to be surrounded with people to keep you company. Volunteering your time to a worthy cause can also provide the same benefits.
Give Yourself Time
Adjustment to life changes will always take some getting used to, so give yourself some time to get the hang of it. If you’re unable to shake the feelings of depression and anxiety, consider seeing a therapist or doctor for recommendations.