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9 Tips for A Fresh Start After Your Kids Leave Home 

When you’re waving goodbye to your child after you’ve dropped them off at college, that sadness washing over you is completely normal.

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When you’re waving goodbye to your child after you’ve dropped them off at college, that sadness washing over you is completely normal. That feeling of grief when a child moves out — or when your last child has moved out — is known as “empty nest syndrome.”

A whopping 98% of parents reported feeling “extreme grief” after their child had left for college, according to a recent survey. This sadness showed up in surprising ways for parents:

But fear not, you aren’t alone in this new chapter of parenthood. Whether your empty nest coincides with a significant life change like divorce or you simply find yourself grappling with the emotions of an empty home, we’ll guide you through the process of rebuilding happiness and thriving in the face of change. 

How to Move Forward When You’re in Shock or Grief

While you know your job is to prepare your kids for the real world, when the time comes for them to fly, it can be a real shock for you. Regardless of your relationship with your child, seeing them as a budding adult heading into the world can be overwhelming. The process may not go how you planned or wanted, and that can leave you with unresolved feelings.

Please know all the emotions you have are normal and OK. Your feelings might be complicated and diverse. You might feel happy and relieved after all your years of pouring yourself into countless hours of homework help and real-world prep talks. And they may also include sadness, grief, and shock that the moment for their lives to take a new direction has really arrived. Take time to process your emotions, and give yourself the time to rest more or spend some quiet moments to gather your thoughts.  

The more you can take care of yourself and work through emotions via journaling, talking with friends (especially friends who’ve already been on this journey before you), and getting out for walks or other activities you enjoy, the more quickly you’ll be able to process your emotions and begin taking steps to claim your own new life!

9 Tips for Coping and Moving Forward With an Empty Nest

Try these tactics for adjusting to your life without having children living in the home with you.

1. Understanding Your Emotions: So many people dealing with an empty nest try to soldier through as if nothing is wrong. “Everyone else has to deal with this at some point, so I have to, too,” you might say. But, that’s not realistic. Sure, lots of other people have dealt with an empty nest. But whether they admit it to you or not, they must acknowledge and understand their emotions. If you need extra help, seek out a therapist or trusted clergyperson, or a support group for empty nesters.

2. Rekindling Relationships: Remember, you don’t have to “go it alone.” If you’re married, this is the perfect time to rekindle the friendship and romance with your spouse. Go on dates and enjoy yourselves. Don’t feel ashamed to share your feelings with your spouse about your children leaving. If you’re divorced, this is a good time to make an effort to reconnect with your friends or get involved in new activities.

3. Finding New Hobbies: Take this opportunity to try things you’ve always wanted to do before. Delve into anything from ballroom dancing lessons to gardening. You can try learning a new language or read those books you’ve had stacked up for years. You can even consider fostering an animal such as a cat or dog at one of your local shelters.

4. Self-Care Regime: Another important aspect of empty nesting is to take care of your own personal health — both physically and mentally. You’ve cared for your child for years and now you need to put the focus back on you. Join a gym or just go for a daily walk around the block. Take time out of your day to journal or just check in with your emotions. If you haven’t scheduled a visit with your doctor lately, do it now!

5. Career and Educational Aspirations: You have more time for yourself, so it’s a good time to consider a career shift. This might be the perfect moment to really go for a promotion or to even change jobs. If you need to, this would also be a great opportunity to return to school and further your education.

6. Travel Adventures: If you’re hankering to expand your horizons, consider getting out and seeing more of the world. This is a prime chance to travel and experience new cultures. Whether it’s a cruise to the Caribbean or a train ride across Europe, this is your time to explore with your spouse, friends, or alone!

7. Volunteering Opportunities: For years, you’ve loved your child, and now there’s a gap when they’re not living at home. Consider taking this chance to volunteer. There are many groups in a variety of fields looking for passionate people with the time to help out.

8. Creating a Supportive Network: If you really find yourself struggling with being an empty nester, then you might want to consider a supportive network. Building connections with other empty nesters and joining support groups can help you stabilize your life and put everything into perspective. These can also show you that you are not alone in your feelings about being without your children.

9. Seeking Professional Guidance: We want to mention this one more time. There’s no stigma attached to seeking professional help. If you’re seriously depressed about being an empty nester, then you should seek professional counselors to help you deal with these emotions in a positive and constructive manner.

What If You’re Going Through Divorce While Dealing With Empty Nest Syndrome?

Many people begin to seek, or are in the process of, divorce during this difficult time of change. If the number of shifts in your life is overwhelming, there are a few steps you can take to gain perspective and take good care of yourself.

1. Seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney who wants what’s best for you. The empty nest life change hits hard, so it can be difficult to focus or to have the discernment needed during a divorce or separation. It’s never a bad idea to set up a consultation with an attorney to learn about your options.

2. Create new routines and daily tasks for yourself. Self-care is vital during such a time of transformation. Create and stick to the new routines that no longer include your family. Making yourself number one in everything you do will be strange at first, but you may really come to love it once you see how good you feel.

3. Side hustles and jobs can be very helpful. They provide extra income during a time when you can really use it but also, they provide a way for your mind to focus on the here and now instead of the past. In addition, you’ll meet new friends!

Get Help During an Intensely Emotional Time 

Taking care of yourself is number one on your list now. If you feel like you may need to separate or divorce or if you’re in the midst of a divorce, the best way to create your future is by hiring an experienced and caring family law attorney. Your family law attorney will have your back and ensure that whatever your future holds, you’re in the driver’s seat. 

Contact the Experienced Family Law Attorneys at Smedley Law Group in Woodbury, NJ Today

If you’re thinking about filing for divorce or your spouse has informed you they want a divorce, you’ll need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Smedley Law Group represent clients throughout the state, including West Deptford, Woodbury Heights, Runnemede, and Westville. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 251-0800 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 750 Cooper Street, Woodbury, NJ 08096.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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