Overcome the Empty Nest Blues

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The holidays are a time of separation anxiety for parents watching their children head off with their friends and respective others to celebrate. Sure, there's less laundry, fewer dirty dishes and no more heavy metal blasting at 5 AM. Yet, when you've raised your kids through chicken pox, home alone during the holiday season may seem empty without small reminders of your child's presence.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

For the 25 million single baby boomers who've already suffered through a divorce, separation, or death, watching your children head out on their own can be devastating. Linda, a 54-year-old finance director equates her last child leaving home to the feeling she had when she and her husband split. "I know I should be happy to see my children doing well, but I'm having a hard time adjusting to being by myself. I took care of my family for years but with Glen away at school this season, there's nothing left for me to do." The good news is that as lonely as it may feel initially, now is the perfect time to reinvent yourself and meet someone new. Here are eight first moves that can increase your odds of finding a partner while easing the empty nest blues:

1) Allow yourself time to feel sad. It's okay to have these emotions but also remember raising children is about helping them to be independent individuals. Join a local support group if you're really having a tough time. Sometimes it helps to talk to like-minded people.

2) Take time for yourself. Sign up for a class in Italian cooking, tennis, tap dance, or strumming the Spanish guitar. Volunteer for your favorite charity. Make a wish list of the things you always wanted to do like skydiving or belly dancing but you didn't have the time to do while raising children.

3) Renovate and decorate. With a home all to yourself, what better time to repaint those walls, change the curtains and buy some new paintings.