Radhika* is all set to start her new college in Singapore, she is all excited waiting for her new life to start, just a week remaining. As she prepares herself for new college she notices her mother is behaving not very normally, sometimes she is overactive sometimes extremely low or even discusses her ambiguity about Radhika’s future and whether or not they have prepared her adequately to live independently. These thoughts were keeping her occupied way too much, as a result, she started forgetting things. These symptoms are very common among parents whose kids move out of their parental home for the first time for education, in search of work or due to marriage.

For parents kids never grow, it seems like yesterday you brought your kid from the hospital and now they move out independently it is a happy and sad feeling at the same time, the feeling that leads to frustration and dissatisfaction can be empty nest syndrome. Empty nest syndrome is more common in a stay at home, single parent. If both the parent feel empty nest syndrome then the situation is worse this compounds feeling of loneliness and distress

Symptoms/signs

Feeling worthless : when suddenly you start feeling you have lost control over your children’s life. Their decisions make you feel ignored or not worthy.

Your focus changes : all you bother is your children’s safety and   wellbeing most of the time while they are away. Your only  concern is how will you adjust to the new lifestyle after your children are gone.

Emotional distress :since the time your child’s departure is fixed you cry on petty topics or incidents at home, you stay depressed most of the time, you become anxious when someone talks about hardships your children might face.

Marital dissatisfaction :There are couples who make children their pivot points, some couples keep their relationships aside and the family revolves around their children, after so many years when the kids move out, you feel like a bit of a challenge to get along happily. Now the dire situation arises when one of the couple adapts well to the change while the other is still in the longing state and miss children and create an adverse home environment, then reacquaintance can be difficult.

When the last child leaves the home : when there are more than one kid, duties are shared when the first kid moves out you still have the younger one to take care and look after him/her, now when the younger one moves out you feel depressed and  life seems aimless.

HOW TO COPE WITH THE SITUATION 

Prioritize yourself : All our life we tend to be a good daughter/son, husband/wife, brother/sister, and most importantly mother/father but we forget loving and prioritizing ourselves. This is the time we should focus on ourselves. We have done a fabulous job in raising beautiful independent individuals, now it's time for us to concentrate on other important parts of life. Start focusing on your health. Go for walks. Schedule body checkups, take care of your looks, feel beautiful/fit inside out. Eat healthy and systematically.

Reconnect with your spouse : when we have kids our focus shifts from us to the kids. We rarely get quality time with our partners this is the time we should learn to reconnect with each other, going out ,watching your favorite movie together or any favourite television drama, cherishing days when just the two of you were together. Find joy amongst each other.

Broaden your horizon : the best way to distract yourself from the mundane, humdrum existence is to distract yourself. Tell me, haven’t you kept an unsaid hobby aside because you had no time for yourself this is the time to try that. Learn new things, socialize, meet your neighbors more often extend help, start gardening, feed a hungry soul. Do one good thing to be feed your soul.

Respect  child’s independence : when the child leaves home its difficult for him/her and for the parents but slowly the child adapts himself/herself in the new environment here parents should show respect and let the child grow independently with an unsaid cushion of support, whether the child leaves home for education, marriage or any other reason the child should know she/he has a base and go to place if nothing works. Parents should not disturb them by constantly cribbing about how miserable they are feeling without them, the child develops a sense of guilt which hamper his/her growth and adaptability in the new environment.

The fact is it is indeed a painful process, no matter how hard you try the initial feeling of sadness will remain it is natural to feel the sense of pain when children leave home so its fine and obvious but if it disturbs you too hard that you feel depressed most of the time then you need to check, change and make amendments for your and children’s happiness. Because children are most affected when their parents are depressed. With small lifestyle changes we can make ourselves happy for us and for the people we are living with.

If empty nest syndrome is getting worse and you feel the sadness deepens with time and cannot come in terms with your situation even in couple of months, it is the time to seek help from mental health professional.

The fact is it is indeed a painful process, no matter how hard you try the initial feeling of sadness will remain; it is natural to feel the sense of pain when children leave home so its fine and obvious but if it disturbs you and your child's happiness, you will sooner or later have to find out ways to keep yourself happy.