Many parents deal with empty nest syndrome each year. Each September brings with it the start of a new university year, the end of summer and, eventually, empty nest syndrome. As excited students travel to university towns to begin their new life away from home, parents all over the country feel quite differently about these major life changes.
According to search data from relevant experts, online searches for ’empty nest syndrome’ go through the roof in September. Furniture Village, one of UK’s largest furniture retailers, looked further into what is really going on in the home once the kids are not there anymore.
Understanding Empty Nest Syndrome
The empty nest syndrome is the name given to the feeling of sadness and loss many parents experience when their children move out. Whether they leave home to go to university, get married or for a new job, empty nesters can find it difficult to adjust to their new life without kids around.
Last year, there was an 86% spike in search for ’empty nest syndrome’ in September compared to August, with previous years seeing even bigger increases of up to 125% during the same month.
The trend shows a decrease in October, but it’s not until November that the number of searches go back to the August average. This further suggests the jump is mostly related to parents being distressed about their children moving away as they start university, many of them leaving home for an extended period of time for the first time in their life.
Signs To Look Out For
Empty nest syndrome can sneak up on you, which is why you should look out for specific signs. When you are aware of these signs, you will be better placed to prepare for them and deal with them appropriately. Let’s look at some of these signs, including what expert Dr Ranj has to say.
Anxiety: Fear about the future is normal when such significant changes happen in our lives. But look out for feelings of anxiety that are constant and won’t go away.
Depression: Deep sadness is one of the most common feelings parents get when they see their kids flying the coop. “Parents shouldn’t hesitate to ask for help from mental health professionals. Feeling sad for a couple of weeks can be completely normal when kids leave home. But a prolonged feeling of grief or inability to cope with usual activities, should be further investigated,” said Dr Ranj.
Loneliness: As parents readjust to the new life, it’s normal for them to miss the house being full, the busy mornings or the family dinners with everyone gathered around the table. A feeling of loneliness will usually set in for a few days or even weeks.
Loss of purpose: Now that the children are old enough to look after themselves, the role of being a parent will change. This can lead to a sense of emptiness as the full-time job of parenting becomes a thing of the past.
Inability to rest and sleep: Lack of sleep shouldn’t be ignored. According to Dr Ranj “Sleep deprivation is more than the occasional sleepless night – and it can have significant health implications.”
Coping With Empty Nest Syndrome
It can be difficult for parents to cope with this syndrome. The kids are out of the house. Now what? “Fortunately, there are many ways to adjust and make the most out of this new phase in your life, starting with a shift in your focus”, according to Dr Ranj. “Instead of feeling that life as you know it is over, parents can embrace the exciting possibilities ahead”. Here are what many empty nesters are up to:
Discovering new hobbies and tapping into old ones: From pottery-making to calligraphy, photography and bird watching, the list of exciting activities parents can try is endless. “Volunteering is also a fantastic way to keep occupied and stimulated, as well as being great for mental wellbeing”.
Travelling the world or exploring their local area more: For parents who are retired, this is the time to get their bucket lists out and start crossing out their dream destinations. “You don’t have to go far as there are so many beautiful and interesting places to visit across the UK, especially if you are being budget-conscious”.
More “me time”: Exercising, getting massages, eating healthier and reading more are all amazing ways for parents to look after themselves. “Doing group exercise activities are a much more motivating way to stay fit and healthy, and meet new people”.
Joining local clubs: Movie and book clubs are some of the most fun ways to meet new people, including fellow empty nesters.
Sticking to a sleep schedule: Empty nesters will find it easier to come up with their own schedule, with the kids out of the house. A great tip is to make sure a good rest is a priority by sticking to a sleep schedule. This will keep energy levels up, reduce worrying, which can be more intense due to bad sleep, and support good mental health. You should read the sleep advice that can be found from Furniture Village, as they have the resources and insight needed to help you cope with empty nest syndrome and get a better night’s sleep.
Dealing With Empty Space
Having all that empty, extra space, that was once filled with laughter, mess, and perhaps even mood swings, can make the absence feel even stronger. So, it might be best to repurpose the extra space into something that will be used.
Repurposing your children’s bedroom into a guest room can ease the loneliness after they move out, by making it easier to host guests. This way, there’s still plenty of space for your children to come home and visit too.
Perhaps you’ve wanted to create a home office for some time, with hybrid working becoming the norm. Now is the perfect time to make your children’s old bedrooms into your dream working space.
This article has gone over a few different points relating to empty nest syndrome. As a parent, you should now understand better what this means and how you can cope with it. Ensure you are seeking the help of those around you and consulting relevant help from sleep experts to help you relax and get the good night’s sleep that you deserve.