Empty- Nest – Time for Makeover
Empty-nest syndrome; I hadn’t even heard of the term, up till my elder brother went abroad for his higher education. Then, he introduced me to it, out of worry and concern for our parents. Needless to mention, a couple’s life starts revolving around their babies as soon as they enter the picture. After around seventeen- eighteen years of needing constant care, in some or the other form, when off-springs are suddenly ready to take their flight of life, it can become very challenging for the parents. This is true despite the severe desire for one’s progeny to become independent. It’s not a clinical diagnosis, but, can lead to more serious conditions if not adequately taken care of.
Suddenly, it can become painful to bear the empty silences, the task-less hours, the excruciating stillness and the unoccupied room with the pop-music posters still adoring the walls. It is said that acceptance is the road to change. So, first step, when encountering such feelings, is to acknowledge them. Especially fathers, being mostly the main bread-winners of the family and with their stern image, find it difficult to own and accept their feelings of loss. But, please note, they are equally prone. Beyond this, stay calm and positive; it will take its time. However, some measures can be taken to ease the journey.
Create a schedule: There will be setbacks as you try this. Sticking to the schedule with kids around was no less challenging just a few years back, but, if you traversed that period (however you might have done that!), chances are good that you will do it now, too. So, stay put.
Develop a network: This is the best time to connect with school mates, to re-initiate conversations with college-mates and to forge new friendships, too! With time, these alliances will reap rewards as fulfilling as the kids’ hobbies, hard-earned exam scores and/or competition awards. As said before, stay put with these friendships, too.
Explore: A new hobby, a social cause, a location, meditation or simply your inner world. Explore!
Rekindle the romance: Remember how your spouse sometimes felt a bit neglected while you took care of the child? Now is the time to make up for all those lost moments and revive the spark in your relationship. Have a candle light dinner, watch movies together, go on a date with your better half.
Keep connected: Be in touch with your almost-an-adult-child. That won’t be possible continuously, but try giving it structure by having fixed times for phone calls. Use emails, Whatsapp, video call and Facebook et cetera as well. But don’t probe when taking to social media; be general, and also, respectful of your ward’s new peer-group.
A lovely aunt in our neighbourhood, with both her sons dwelling at far-off places, never fails to inspire us on this front. “If my kids are happy in their respective homes, and I am finding time to recreate and redefine myself, why should I grumble”, she says while watering the breath-taking flowers blooming in her garden.
All said and done, keep reminding yourself that this is not a ‘forever’ but a ‘transitional’ phase. It might be difficult initially, but as one will look for new opportunities – both in personal and professional life, feelings of hope and optimism are bound to return. So, remain productive; though, with your youngsters nearing settlement, the incentive to do so will be lesser, but, without attaching yourself too much to the product(s), remain productive.
As quoted by Dr. Margaret Rutherford, psychologist and author, “Your child’s life will be filled with fresh experiences. It’s good if yours is as well.”