It is August and kids are going off to college and leaving us with an Empty Nest. After all the years of driving them to school, making dinners and helping with homework, the solemnity of a quiet house, day and night, is disconcerting. I thought I could evade the ‘syndrome,’ (yes, they’ve dubbed it a psychological phenomenon). I left the house I raised my daughters in and moved into a one bedroom apartment with the view, I thought I needed to make the transition effortless. It did not.
In the last month I find myself talking out loud to myself, or my cats, in the middle of the day. I see mothers wheeling baby strollers and yearn for those days. And I literally broke down in tears when a young dad with a hand basket and baby in his arms passed by me in the cereal aisle at the grocery store. None of this is attractive, but completely normal. Many moms experience a profound sense of loss when their last child flies the coop. And it is particularly poignant for single moms who’ve dedicated much of their lives and energy to their children.
There are however, several ways single moms can bounce back from the empty nester malaise.
1. Nurture yourself.
Go easy on yourself. Your grief is real and it’s okay to feel the way you feel. Acknowledge the pain and then indulge yourself in a guilty pleasure like a mani/pedi. Since I moved to a new place I’ve been taking time to explore new workout studio’s. A lot of places comp introductory classes, so I have been trying different exercise places for free!
2. Indulge in a Single Girl Adventure
Have a plan for an immediate adventure or fun event as soon as your child leaves for college. I’m big on traveling and there are a variety of trips you can enjoy as a single person. My favorite are adventure travel trips because these are scheduled with groups or you can arrange for a guide who will take you on your excursions and join you for meals. Check out my recent trip Quasar expedition to South America. Next up a trip to Alaska to visit relatives. All of it takes your mind off the departure of your teens.
3. Reach out to other single friends.
I get together with my other single girlfriends weekly. Some of them are fellow Empty Nesters others are simply single. They’re a source of support and inspiration. It can be very liberating to go out for cocktails and not worry about what time you need to be home for your kids.
4. Take a class
I have always wanted to become fluent in Spanish. Now I feel like I have the time to take the class. And actually, miraculously, as we manifest what we want, I thought about the Spanish class and the next day passed by a car advertising 1 on 1 Spanish classes! I’m calling. What is your passion you’ve put on hold? Painting? Spinning? Or do you want to study and take on a new career? I have a friend took studied to become a personal trainer. Now she is extremely busy doing something she loves and helping seniors stay in shape.
5. Dating in earnest
As a single mom it is often too difficult to date with the intention of finding a serious relationship. Now, with the kids away, you can focus completely on what you want in your next serious relationship. There are a variety of dating websites that cater to what you might be looking for now in your life. Some of my favs are AYI.com and Singles warehouse. Take a look and see who’s waiting to meet you!
Now is the time to rescript your life, find your hidden talents and reinvigorate the interests you’d put on hold. Consider what brought you joy and excitement in the past and recreate it in your present.
If you continue to feel stuck, reach out a therapist, dive deep with your girlfriends and definitely join the single mom superstar community. We are here for you!!