When children leave home, many parents experience depression symptoms called "Empty Nest Syndrome," says Psychology Today. Typically, empty-nesters are mothers, but dads experience it, too. Some factors affect empty nest, including number and age of kids, family closeness, death of children, and boomerang kids (those who leave and come back). Life factors like parents' relationship, jobs, health and social opportunities determine severity, too. Here are tips for coping with empty nest syndrome.
* Reconnect. My husband and I were "attachment parents" before there was a name for it. We devoted our entire lives to the kids and they went with us everywhere. Consequently, we don't have much of a social network. Fortunately, we maintained our relationship. If you've lost connection, re-establish it. Go on dates. Take long, lost weekends. If you're a single parent, find a social outlet. Join a fitness club, volunteer association or church group.
* Treat yourself. Celebrate the fewer responsibilities of an empty nest. Take that vacation you've been putting off. Quit the job you hate but kept to provide for the family. If quitting isn't feasible, reduce your hours. Throw yourself into a cause you're passionate about. Try that risky business venture you've always dreamed of. Go back to school. Work less. Take up that pricey hobby you never could afford when the kids were home. Telling my son about our European vacation dream, I lamented that we couldn't afford to take the family. He said, "You do know that you and Dad get to do things just for you, right? You did your parenting time, Mom. Now it's your turn."
* Get out of the house--temporarily at least, permanently if necessary. As in a death, sitting in an empty nest full of memories is depressing. If you only hung onto your house for the kids or if you're just tired of the upkeep, sell it. Move to a cheaper, lower-maintenance apartment. Buy an RV and travel. Sure, the kids may not like it, but they'll survive. They're moving on with their lives and so should you. It's memories that make a home, not physical structures.
Most importantly, pat yourselves on the back for a parenting job well done.