I have been coaching several mid-life mums recently trying to make the adjustment after their teenagers have left for university. This is commonly called ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’.
- How will they cope by themselves?
- Will they eat?
- Will they drink too much?
- What am I going to do now?
I experienced ENS syndrome myself when my daughter married and my son left for university both within two weeks of each other. The house felt spookily quiet and I missed our chats and hugs dreadfully.
Any major life change requires some adjustment, and it may take a while to get used to not hearing the sound of your child’s footsteps in the hallway or that empty place at the dinner table. It’s perfectly normal to miss a child, particularly if the relationship was close. But for some parents, the pain of separation becomes consuming, to the point that even months later, they suffer from extreme grief and depression. Parents may find themselves spending hours in their children’s rooms instead of engaging in normal, everyday activities. Their sleeping and eating patterns may change. It may seem that there’s nothing left to do in life, and they’ve served their purpose.
These symptoms of empty nest syndrome are most commonly associated with mothers, though both parents may experience them. One reason that women are more associated with empty nest syndrome is that it often coincides with menopause, which wreaks its own special havoc on a woman’s emotional state. If a woman has largely shaped her personal identity as that of mother, then an end to the reproductive years accompanied by a child leaving home can be especially traumatic.
A tip is to take the time to re-evaluate your own life. Who do you want to be, do and have in future? This is a moment of great opportunity for those mid-life women who choose to take it. It’s vital to identify what you really want (as opposed to what we feel we should want) and focus on it. There’s no doubt that answering this question can take time.
One of my favourite ways of discovering what we really want out of life is a vision board. This is simply a large piece of card where you can cut and paste images of anything that you notice in magazines that particularly interests and inspires you. Hang your vision board somewhere where you can see it regularly throughout your day and be sure to add new items to it regularly. As it evolves, you’ll gradually develop a clearer picture of the things that truly make you happy. And that means you’ll be well placed to start bringing them into your life.
Or if you’d like some help come along to my next AWA Discovery Day at the Hythe Imperial Hotel on the 6th January 2018. £99 all in.