What is the purpose of a nest? The purpose of a nest is to shelter the eggs until they hatch! Animals keep the nest together for short period of time but humans keep the nest intact for approximately twenty years.
Then the day comes when the kids spread their wings and fly. They begin to set up their own nest, maybe an apartment close by or a house thousands of kilometres away! They may head off to college or university. Whatever the situation, your house is suddenly empty.
You have now become an “empty-nester.” How do you know if you are managing this life transition and how can you determine if you should seek some assistance in managing this change?
This handy chart can help you to determine if you are coping or if you should consider getting some help:
|Empty Nest Syndrome||Empty Nest Normalcy|
|Not knowing what to do with the free time||Enjoying trying new things|
|Constantly feeling the loss and worry||Feeling excited for new beginnings, while grieving what used to be|
|Feeling an identity crisis||Experiencing an identity change|
|Noticing stress in the marriage stressor||Noticing the marriage strengthening|
|Seeing the parent-child relationship collapsing||Seeing the parent-child relationship improving|
|Feeling constant and overwhelming sadness||Feeling sadness that decreases in duration, frequency and/or intensity|
|Feeling unprepared and overwhelmed||Gradually settling in to new routines|
|Feeling confused about how to be a parent||Exploring new ways to connect with your child|
|Being oblivious to the impact on siblings||Openly discussing the emptiness with the family still at home|
|Being mad at yourself for struggling||Accepting that this is a hard change and being gentle with yourself|
If you have one or more signs from the left-hand column, it is a good idea to reach out for support. Talk to someone in the same situation or someone who has been through it. Even better, reach out to a professional who can walk you through this change. The goal is to reach normalcy and begin to enjoy this new chapter in your life.