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5 Ways To Beat the Empty Nest Blues

Older Couple
Family, Self

Strategies for mothers to beat the empty nest blues when their children leave home

Are you a 50 plus year old Mom who longed for her children to become independent and move on with their own lives? And yet you find yourself feeling lonely and in an empty nest funk?

Well I just described myself. I wanted my kids to be independent and create their own trajectories. I always hoped that my children would map out their own journeys and have lots more than I had as a child of immigrants.

Then why do I miss them SO much? 

I had time to adjust to my children fleeing the nest – both my son and daughter went to colleges in the Boston area, 5 hours away from Brooklyn, NY. They came home for vacations and summers and lived at home for 2 years after college. Now my youngest child, my baby girl, has been out of the house for 2.5 years living an hour away and my son is married and living out West. Some days I find myself obsessing and worrying about them and plain missing them.

Here are some ways I came up with to beat the empty nest blues and move on with my life:

  1. BE GRATEFUL– expressing gratitude has become one of the most popular life tools these days to help people increase their happiness and replace negative thinking with positive thinking.  It can also help you break out of that toxic victim state of mind. Finding new things to be grateful for every day is a fabulous way to get you going in the morning. It can definitely jumpstart the flow of positive energy! I can’t tell you how many times I have read an article, book or watched a news report that recommended listing 5 new things for which you are grateful.
  1. THINK POSITIVE – can you view the glass as half-empty versus half-full?  

Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor and Stoic Philosopher saidVery little is needed to make a happy life, it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”

Adopting a positive attitude and shifting one’s mindset from a negative one to a positive one can increase happiness, health, success and wealth levels.

The next time you feel lonely and are missing your children, take a deep breath, exhale slowly, acknowledge how you are feeling and let those feelings pass. 

Then pat yourself on the back and think about how wonderful it is that you raised independent adults who are forging ahead with their own lives. Isn't that what you dreamed about for them? 

Focus forward on your own life and the endless opportunities you have now that your kids are grown. As Shakespeare said “the world is your oyster!“ You have more time and hopefully the funds to do things for yourself, invest in yourself (exercise), in your marriage (re-connect with your husband), in your education (change jobs or careers or work less) or travel and have some fun.

I just learned about a fabulous paradigm which can help you increase your positive energy! The wonderful holistic health coach Amy Marzluff introduced me to the concept of “adding in to crowd out” or the “crowding out” method. When applied to food, “crowding out” means eating your healthy greens first before eating foods that may not be as healthy. This paradigm can also be applied to your life – add positive things, practices and people to your life to crowd out the negative thoughts, habits and relationships. If you keep adding positive things, the negative things will fall away.   

  1. REINVENT YOURSELF – CREATE NEW GOALS

This is an excellent time to change your job or career especially if you have been sticking it out because of pricey college tuition bills and other obligations related to your children. Are you realizing your potential? Is your job meaningful and fulfilling? You may now have the financial resources and flexibility to change careers and be the author of your own life story!

I started the journey to reinvent myself after decades of working in the volatile Fortune 500 world. My corporate jobs as a CPA provided the cash flow to partner with my husband to give our kids the best education, a house, summer camps and lots more. However, my childhood dream had been to become a nurse. When my son and daughter became financially independent, I realized that going back to school for nursing wasn’t realistic at my age. Instead I decided to volunteer at a hospital once a week and went back to school and studied life and career coaching. This way I help others make positive changes in their lives.

As a numbers girl as well as a life and career coach, I recommend you consider reinvention in your career, your way of life as well as your finances. Jonnelle Marte, a reporter forThe Washington Post writes about the financial implications of the empty nest in her June 6, 2016 article, How to keep your cash from leaving the nest when your kids do.

She saysAs much as you’ve been thinking about – or looking forward to – this day, the moment is about more than winning back your privacy and a little cash, financial advisers say.” 

This is a good time to reevaluate your financial situation and plans. For example, you can save money by reviewing your insurance policies and cell phone plans (your child may no longer need to be on your policies/plans), increase the contributions to your retirement plans and consider downsizing and moving to a small house or apartment closer to the city and cultural life.

  1. GIVE BACK

John Bunyan said that “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”

I started volunteering at a hospital 4 years ago and I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to help people. I really miss it when I have to skip my volunteer day as a patient advocate. I realize that most of the time I receive a lot more than what I give at the hospital. It totally grounds me and makes me appreciate my good health and good fortune.

  1. RESCUE A DOG OR CAT

Okay, so your children are grown up but you are not a grandparent yet? Do you need someone to nurture or simply need some companionship?

How about rescuing a dog or cat and showering your love on them?

Caroline Park came up with 10 reasons why a dog is good for your health (dogvacay.com, 2/5/15 - 10 Surprising Reasons Your Dog is Good for Your Health).

In addition to companionship, Ms. Park cites research that shows dogs can boost your mood, help you stay healthy and active, relieve stress, feel calm, be more social and so much more.

The next time you are in an empty nest funk, please don’t fall in to that abyss! Try out some of my strategies for beating the empty nest blues!

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