Empty nest syndrome

Reena Puri
11 to 16 years

Created by Reena Puri
Updated on Oct 14, 2019

Empty nest syndrome
Reviewed by Expert panel

Rina had been a working mother with full family support, but there was always guilt eating at her. Guilt about not being a good mother, guilt about not giving her family enough time. One day, when her son started Class Six, she decided she'd had enough, and gave up her career as a banker. She decided to be a homemaker and spend more time with her child. And she got into the role with gusto, taking care of everyone's needs, being there for her child 24*7.

The person that she was, had taken a backseat, and her role was that of the mother, the wife, the daughter. Then the day arrived, when her son left home to pursue higher education. The vacuum that pervaded Rina's life was unbearable, and she found the transition difficult to come to terms with. Her husband was busy building his career to greater heights, and Rina was frustrated, feeling absolutely empty. Small things irritated her, and anxiety about her son's wellbeing consumed her at all times.

What Is Empty Nest Syndrome?

A common problem faced by parents, especially stay-at-home parents who find it difficult to deal with the change of their children leaving home to be on their own. Rina, like many parents, struggled to deal with the idea of her child being on his own, not needing her as much, and the change in her role in his life. But here's the good news – empty nest syndrome is hardly a clinical condition, it is something you can deal with by realizing that your child has to move on some day, and preparing for the changes that come with it.

How Empty Nest Syndrome Can Affect You?

Sending your child off to college, or to a different city on his first job can be one of the hardest things you do. Here are some things that you will observe.

  1. Confusion about your role in his life: If your child, his academics and other activities have taken up every second of your time until now, you might suddenly feel disillusioned about what you're needed for once he leaves
  2. Impact on family: If you have other children, they may feel the absence quite acutely, too. Suddenly dinner table conversations revolve around reminiscences about the child who has left home
  3. Your relationship with your partner: If you've spent all your energies on your child and haven't quite made an effort with your partner, this can be a trying time for both of you

How To Cope With Empty Nest Syndrome?

Before you even get to the stage of empty nest syndrome, the best thing to do is to not let yourself go. And by that we mean, always take care of your needs, too. If a career is important to you and you've worked hard to build it, don't give it up. You will find a way to make it work with your child. And your child will have a mother who is independent in all senses of the word. When you are faced with the empty nest syndrome, here are some ways to cope.

  1. Rediscover yourself: Sounds like something out of a yoga brochure? Well, no. It is something you can do in so many ways – pursue your favorite sport, or dance form. If singing is your thing, why not join a class? Take up a cause that you've always wanted to support. Do something that is close to your heart
  2. Rekindle the romance: Whether you've consciously made an effort in the past or not, it's not too late. Remind your partner of the woman he fell in love with. Tell him how important he is to you. You can surprise him with a holiday for just the two of you. You realize how much you need your companion during this transition period
  3. Throw yourself into work: If you work full-time, take up more responsibility at your work place. Even if you don't, create opportunities for yourself to do something you're good at – for e.g. if you have a special skill and you like to teach, start classes at home
  4. Communicate frequently: It's the digital age – phone calls, texts, WhatsApp messaging, Facebook – there's no dearth of ways you can stay in touch with your child. Without seeming too interfering, call him often, and ask him about his life there. Video chats, while not substitutes for the real thing, do take away some of the loneliness!
  5. Reconnect with friends: If you've lost touch with good friends, reconnect with them. The people who truly understand you will be happy to revive the friendship and bond with you. Make an effort to keep in touch, go out for girly lunches and dinners. The sanctity of the sisterhood is an integral part of your life!

Don't let the empty nest syndrome consume you. While it is hard to deal with the face that the little child who was your shadow is now on his own, remember that your efforts have made it happen! You have helped him become independent and a responsible individual, and now it's time to let go. And you will be proud of him!

Did you find these tips on dealing with empty nest syndrome useful? Share your feedback with us in the comments section!

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Jan 18, 2017

Thanks for sharing your experience. It's true that even we as mothers need to realise our space and importance.

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| Jan 16, 2017

My child is in 9th, I quit my Corp job last year due to the same guilt cycle of not being around mum. It has been a difficult phase of adjustment for the entire family,but worth it. My child's grades has improved, less temper tantrums, house environment is much more peaceful. Do miss my own life sometimes, but getting a chance to explore various interests :-)

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| Jan 16, 2017

I liked ur share ,my child is also in 6th at present , I also feel like doing everything for my children's but somewhere I feel possessive .....for his behaviour , studies and his career ....but now I feel good not worrying much because definitely my son will also do good in life...... thanks

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| Jan 16, 2017

This massage has given me a special strength. I have many ambitions ,none of them fulfilled. This has given me a hope that there will be a time in my future when I can concentrate on myself.

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| Jan 16, 2017

Great writing

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| Jan 16, 2017

A good read!

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