Empty nest syndrome might not be a recognised clinical condition, but it does affect many parents, particularly mums. It’s a new chapter in your life, but that doesn’t make it any easier to cope with and adjusting to life can be a challenge. One minute your home is filled with laughter and exuberantnoise, and the next it seems so silent, and you’re rattling around your home wondering what to do. When you’re a single parent, you’ll have been putting your own life on hold and making sacrifices for a number of years, and you might have forgotten what real life is all about. Filling the role of mum and dad means you’ve been focusing on your children for so long you don’t know what to do without them.
It’s important to think of this time as an opportunity to do things you’ve never done before as well as all those things you’ve been meaning to do for ages. Make this a time of discovery and positive changes, not just for them but for you as well. There are plenty of ways to make the most of your child-free times, and here are some tips to help you.
1. Find Something New to Do
You’ve probably got some dreams and aspirations. Now there’s nothing getting in the way of achieving those dreams. You might have always wanted to be a painter, write a book or run a marathon. New interests and experiences are a good way to expand your knowledge and horizons while giving you the opportunity to meet new people. Check out the local neighbourhood and see whether there are any classes you can sign up for. Visit your local library and ask about book clubs in your area. There are also online groups and apps you can use for meeting new friends and finding out about community events. Social media is another great resource.
2. Revive Your Friendships
Have you let any of your friendships fall by the wayside because you’ve been too busy bringing up kids? Are therefriends you’ve not been able to see as much of because yourkids have taken first place? When you’re trying to adjust to your new solo life having an active social circle is going to make a huge difference. You can start building bridges before the kids leave home by meeting friends for coffee or enjoying the occasional dinner. Social connections are very important, especially when you’re a single parent.
3. Spend Some Time Away from Home
When you’ve got a family to consider travelling can be expensive, difficult and often stressful. Now you’re on your own the world is your oyster. Have you got a bucket list of places you’d love to visit? It’s time to make it happen. There are a number of benefits to solo travelling. It might take you out of your comfort zone and you might find yourself trying to muddle through because you can’t speak the language, but you’ll be surprised how empowered and confident it makes you feel. If you’re a little uncertain about travelling alone consider a tour package designed for single people, an ocean cruise or an international tour.
4. Return to Education
Learning isn’t just for your children, adults can increase their knowledge too. Now you’ve got no more responsibilities this might be the perfect time to jumpstart your own education and maybe even find a new career. Gym instructing training (UK) is an option if you’ve got a passion for keeping fit. Make enquiries at your local college about continuing education classes, online classes or degree completion programmes. As well as keeping your mind active, continuing your education is going to improve your career prospects.
5. Dip Your Toe in the Dating Water
Have you been using your children as an excuse to steer clear of the dating scene? Would you like to have someone to share your newfound experiences with? Of course, it’s going to be a little scary to begin with but it’s also going to be lots of fun. Online dating has made finding love and companionship much easier than ever before. It’s always advisable to take things slow to begin with. Meeting someone for coffee or lunch is a great way to test the waters and you get to be as choosy as you like. If you don’t like the sound of online dating or have heard some scare stories of other’s experiences check out group activities or events in your area. You never know who you might meet when attending a local art exhibition, taking poetry lessons or going to a live music event.
6. Take Good Care of Yourself
It’s very common for single parents to put their own needs to one side, especially when their children are small. When you’re a single parent your children become your sole focus and all you can think about is keeping them healthy and happy. There’s also the problem of a limited budget. When you’ve got school uniforms, after school trips, new shoes, books and the latest gadgets to pay for there’s not much left for a manicure or a trip to the hairdressers. That doesn’t even take into account finding the time or the energy to do those things. Now you’re on your own you’ve got the time and the money to join a gym or running club, treat yourself to a massage, try all those unusual recipes you found online, even embrace the idea of becoming a vegetarian or vegan. Take a long walk, sit and talk to your friend on the phone for hours, or just take a deep breath and be.
Embrace the fact that you’re about to enjoy a new beginning in your life. With these tips in your arsenal you’re better equipped to manage the transition correctly, making sure it’s one that’s characterised by excitement for yourself rather than a prevailing feeling of loss. It’s not just a case of getting used to your new situation. It’s about replacing meaningful aspects of your life in one way or another.