Self-Care in an Empty Nest

In my head I’m still 35 or even younger (I don’t care that AARP has me on their rollcall). How am I talking about “Empty Nest Syndrome? I remember hearing Senior Citizens talking about it when I was younger. I still can’t understand how this is applying to me, how did this happen?

Two weeks ago when my daughter went off to college my plan was to get up and exercise more, cook healthy and eat right more, get in more “me time” – you know total upgrade on my self-care routine. Instead I found myself moping around the house. Due to the design of our house my daughter’s room is across the hall from my office, so I walk past her room throughout the day. Every once in a while I walk up to the doorway of her darkened room, look in, sigh and walk away. I’ve resisted the urge to go lie on her bed like a pitiful lost soul even though I feel like it sometimes.

I’ve gotten in more exercise, so I’m doing good on that goal. On the cooking healthy and eating right, well I’m doing okay on that one. I have a sweet tooth which has always been a challenge. An additional issue is that my wonderful husband gets on the grill cooking up something more tempting than healthy even though I’m trying to be good.

I am still working from home. There is still and social and political unrest, I watched the Democratic National Convention, and when I turned to watch the 10:00 news the Republic National Convention was still on so I caught the last speaker each night which was educational for me. Then Jacob Blake was shot, and the pandemic rages on. So, have I been moping around because of empty nest syndrome, or because all of the above AND being a new empty nester? Who knows, I just knew I needed to do something.

Here’s an article I found when I did some research by Linda Lowen Don’t Just Survive…Thrive Empty Nest Advice I’ll be honest, I was also concerned about how best to deal with my daughter. How do I parent her now? I want her to be free to be the young adult she is, to be independent. But also let her know that I am still here for her. Do I call or text her? Or do I just wait for her to contact me? But does that send her the message that I’ve left her out there alone twisting in the wind? I believe in communication, so I asked her, we talked about it, and we worked it out.

As a college freshman she is going through a transition of her own and I’ve done my best to prepare her for it. I found this article by Sherri Gordon for more information, How College Freshman Can Be Prepared for the First Year, this article was written in August 2019 so it does not address any information regarding the current challenges of the pandemic.

For anyone who is struggling with “empty nest syndrome” here's 5 Ways to Cope with Empty Nest Syndrome by Amy Morin, LCSW

I feel the best thing we can do whether we are dealing with empty nest syndrome, transitioning from high school to college, the current pandemic, the social and political unrest in our country, is truly self-care. We must take care of ourselves by following the protocols of the CDC by wearing masks and washing our hands, and by keeping up social-distant practices. It is also imperative we maintain our mental health as well because we are indeed facing challenging times. The strain of the social and political unrest is definitely taking a toll on my psyche. We must take care of ourselves and each other.