Empty Nest: What To Do Next - Hope 103.2

Empty Nest: What To Do Next

The empty nest stage can be a rich opportunity for personal growth and renewed focus on the relationships that matter most.

By Joni BoydWednesday 3 Jul 2024She Wasn't Born YesterdayPodcastsReading Time: 3 minutes

The leap from active parenting to an empty nest is often marked by a lot of change – and many (many) tears.
Key points
  • “It just hit me he was never going to be in that bedroom again,” Janet said, of the day her son moved out.
  • Sustaining a quality relationship with your partner is critical during the parenting years, and when your children leave home.
  • Listen to the whole episode of She Wasn’t Born Yesterday in the listener above or wherever you get your podcasts.

Dr Amelia Haines and Janet Evans have both experienced this – and in true She Wasn’t Born Yesterday style, they chat candidly about what they call Empty Nest Syndrome – and how to keep moving forward.

Through the lens of Amelia’s medical and psychological insights, she suggests that stepping into this new phase requires mental preparation and acceptance. Importantly, she says, these feelings of loss and adjustment are natural and to be expected, regardless of the strength and nature of the parental bond.

“It just hit me he was never going to be in that bedroom again,” Janet said, of the day her son moved out.

“Well, not as our child under our roof.”

“It just hit me he was never going to be in that bedroom again,” Janet said.

Janet and Amelia offer their top tips, for anyone who is facing an empty nest, and struggling to accept their new reality.

Relationships matter

Sustaining a quality relationship with your partner is critical during the parenting years, as you support each other as parents. When your children eventually leave home, the relationship becomes even more important.

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“There is gonna be that point where… the kids have gone, and suddenly there’s the two of you looking at each other,” Janet said.

“I think the big learning that we express in the book (Empty Next) is to really prioritize that main relationship that you have.”

Sustaining a quality relationship with your partner is critical when your children leave home.

It’s also important to remember to keep working on your relationship with your adult child. Fostering continued relationships with adult children can be a source of joy and ongoing connection. By continuing to do activities together, they can serve as a bridge between the chapters of life – and family members.

Additionally, the continuation of shared traditions or the discovery of new common interests can greatly enrich these relationships post-departure.

And don’t forget your friends.

“You need to realize, actually, no one’s an island,” Amelia said.

“Start to line up the really good, important people in your life and don’t neglect them.”

Perspective changes everything

One of the things which can be difficult when grown children leave home, is the possible convergence of different challenges and life changes, including menopause, marital shifts, career changes, or even personal identity crises. Preparation for and navigation through these waters demand resilience and self-care, Janet and Amelia advised.

“Start to line up the really good, important people in your life and don’t neglect them,” Amelia said.

“It’s actually kind of big life events [that] sometimes aren’t dealt with… as well as they’d normally deal with life’s changes,” Amelia said.

The acknowledgment that midlife can often bring a lot of change only reinforces the necessity of personal development and maintaining one’s individual identity throughout the parenting journey.

Take care of yourself

Being proactive about nurturing your own needs and interests can serve as a buffer against the potential destabilization empty nest syndrome might bring.

“I feel like if you’re putting so much emphasis on your child to give you that sense of love, that sense of being needed, that’s surely gonna make it a lot [harder],” Janet said.

Amelia agrees, “You need to care about yourself… the whole time.”

Every stage of life brings its own set of challenges and rewards. And while this particular stage may sometimes seem daunting, it can also be a rich opportunity for personal growth and renewed focus on the relationships that matter most.

Listen to the whole episode of She Wasn’t Born Yesterday in the listener above or wherever you get your podcasts.


Feature image: Photo by CanvaPro