Empty Nest Syndrom

Updated on January 04, 2009
B.G. asks from Worcester, MA
8 answers

I am the mom of three great kids 24, 19 and 14 and I am 43. My 24 is moved out and all wrapped up in her own life, my 19 yo is busy with college and spends a quarter of her life here and half at her boyfriends house and the other at college and work, and our 14 yo son is very mature for his age he is 6'2" and takes a size 13 shoe, goes to voke, has a girlfriend, spends alot of time at his grandparents (he is the only grandson), I find myself home alone alot with just my dh and not knowing how to reconnect. We have always had a great family life but I feel like I need to entertain him constantly. I go through lots of crying boughts because the kids are not around and I wish they where still little. So am I crazy or do all moms go through this when their children start leaving the nest? Thanks.

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answers from Barnstable on

Hi B.,
My name is L.. My children are now 31, 29, and 25..yikes who can believe it. The worst Christmas I ever had was when they were 16, 20, and 22...they were all away. My oldest at Oxford in England, my 22 yr old son in FL working, and my youngest was away for 6 mos in England in school. We (my wonderful husband) had put all our funds into college and school and had nothing for Christmas. I was sooo sad. I can honestly say I had a huge emptiness in side and cried a lot. My husband, the kids step dad, was wonderful. I knew I could lean on him. These kids of mine were always mature, and I certainly encouraged travel/school. Well, we all got through it. They are now all married, all living in the same town as us, and I get to see my gradkids all the time..We are so very very blessed. I'm convinced giving them the freedom to explore, obtain schooling, is the best way to keep them close.
I would suggest to keep building your relationship with your husband. He's feeling it too, I'm sure. Try new things together. Talk talk talk to each other. Make some new friends who have kids leaving the nest too. I have a new 'walking' friend who's kids have just left. You can do it..hang in there.



answers from New London on

Hi B.,
I guess when people say that time goes by fast, it really does. When our kids were little, it was so draining, I loved it, but I thought it would last forever. Now, my oldest is 14 and I think the time has gone by fast. I know it will be hard for me as the kids get older too. I have always worked part time, and I think that makes the time go by faster too. You might want to try a new hobby, or volunteer work. I know there are some things that I am interested in, that I plan to do as a volunteer. My kids are all in school now. People wonder what I do all day, but I do still work and it seems there is always something on my list. I do have various hobbies, I like to read, knit, exercise and do photography. I am in a book club, that meets once a month. I also try to go to a movie with friends or get together with other couples for a dinner. You might try taking a class in something that you have always wanted to learn, or something you didn't know you wanted to learn. Also, schedule some fun times with friends and schedule some time to yourself for something. I am sure your kids will always call or talk to you when something is going on in their lives. You will probably always have that special relationship with your daughters. Especially when they get married. Everyone says it gets really busy again when they are married. Hope you find some fun things to do. Plan a trip or something also, so you have something to look forward to. Hope these ideas help.......



answers from Lewiston on

Hello there,

my kids are only 16, 10, and 11, so i have not gone through this. But i am seeing one of my sisters go through it and i have made a few suggestions to her which have helped some... She has taken a couple courses through the school department adult ed programs.. They have anything from yoga to computer for beginners and arts and crafts.. Lots of neat new things to learn or hobbies to start.. Getting out 1 night a week for something for yourself now that they are older is something you can look forward too.. She also felt disconnected from her husband and they now have started date night 1 time per week which has helped.. She also tries to have a family dinner night a couple times a month where she plans a big dinner in advance 1 or 2 times a month and invites both kids with their girlfriends to join.. They know how important it is to her and her oldest who is 20 even tells his girlfriend when she wants to leave and not stay for dinner that no this is moms dinner she worked hard on it and im eating it.. She is so having a hard time of this her boys are 20 and 18 going to school and spending time with girlfriends and friends and working.. She is home alone alot but these few things help alot.. You could even try to get other couples over to play cards or have a couple drinks and snacks or a movie night inhouse.. The latest release or an old time favorite.. Invite over some friends have some drinks and snacks.. Hope this works.. I am not looking forward to this time.. Good luck to you..


answers from Boston on

After many years of helping everyone else, a lot of us find that we don't know how to take care of ourselves! We've often defined ourselves by how we are needed by our kids - to get to places, to plan activities, to get meals, and so on. We often forget who we are, or we haven't taken the time to discover who we've become. You are so normal! It's great that you are doing something you love. I also have a home-based business which combines income with a mission to help others - so that's important to me. Somewhere along the line, it sounds like you got caught up in all the activities and kids needing you, and now it seems all of a sudden like they don't. The reason is, of course, that you did a good job making them strong and confident and independent! You just need time to adjust and then the crying bouts will stop. You can find purpose in the work you do, and try to find solace knowing that your kids will still need you on some level. Mine just came home from his first semester at college, and you know what? He's happy and independent (so my husband and I did a good job) AND he loves us a lot (which we didn't always see when he was trying to be an independent teenager). YOu may be seeing some of that with your third one, who seems to be bonding with his grandparents. They won't be around forever, so that's a really important relationship which I hope you will encourage.

This is a good time for YOU so maybe you can stop thinking about entertaining someone else, and start trying some new things. Take yourself to a movie. Sounds dumb, but it's YOUR time! Start a book group and move around to different houses once a month. Put up a notice at your library to seek out others doing the same thing.

Definitely exercise! A lot of gyms have deals in January when everyone wants to get in shape. Find a class there and connect with others. See if they have something for beginners so you don't feel you are walking into a group of advanced fitness stars. If this is too expensive, organize a group of "mall walkers" - a lot of malls open early for people who want to walk before the stores open. Put up a notice in the library or community center, or organize your neighborhood - our neighborhood has an email network. We also organize a yearly Labor Day block party (pot luck) but we're thinking of doing a Memorial Day summer kick-off too. You might find others who want the same things you do! You can still be a good mom if the focus is on you for a bit! Reach out!



answers from Hartford on

Although I'm not in this situation yet, I know many that have and I've spoken with my mom about this several times.
In my opinion, you need to focus on your relationship with your husband. It's hard to imagine life without our kids when that is the sole focus for so many, many years of marriage, but you need to remember why you and your husband got together in the first place. It's so important for couples to try to keep their original identity as a couple through child-filled years because eventually it will be just the 2 of you again. I would imagine your husband might be feeling a bit sad that the focus is so much on the kids and his reconnection with you might be pushed aside.
That's just my opinion.
Good luck,



answers from New London on

Most moms go through this. I would get out more and start volunteering. If you like little kids you can help out at a shelter for moms and their kids, etc. You need to start doing more and finding some hobbies that perhaps you and your hubby can enjoy. Do you both like scrabble? playing cards, doing the crossword? Get out to a movie? See a play. Network with friends. Join Facebook and get connected with old ones. Enjoy life, read a book and keep busy!



answers from Boston on

You aren't crazy, but there are things you can do to feel better. For starters, follow the advice you've received so far- there are so many things you can do that don't cost much.

Also, take this time for yourself. Although it might be fun to do something new, like "date night" with your husband, or "rent a movie and make popcorn" night, in the end the best thing you can do is to do things on your own.

Reconnecting with "long lost friends" is fun- and they are probably going through the same thing. My best friend from college had just retired about the time I became an empty nester, and we got back in touch. We used to travel together before we were married, so we decided to take a trip. We spent about 8 months planning it, which was half the fun. We gave ourselves a limited budget (like we had when we were in college) and tried to stay within it. If you can't afford a trip at this point, it's still fun to plan one! We surfed the 'net to get most of our information.

Ask yourself what other interests you had when you were younger, and see if you can pick one to focus on. I chose genealogy, and through my research I found second cousins I didn't know existed, and actually met several of them. It's a great way to make new friends.

I had worked until my son was in junior high, then cut back to part time. But once he left for college I realized I needed more to keep me busy, so I changed careers and moved into real estate. But in my case the empty nest hasn't lasted long. My foster son moved in with his girfriend and baby, and they stayed for about a year and a half while they saved to buy a house. There were gone a year when my son and his wife moved in. He just started law school, and she is working. They hope to get him through without any debt, so I am happy to do my part by letting them live here. The point is, be careful what you wish for- they keep coming back!!!




answers from Boston on

Poor you.... No way around the feelings, I guess... One of my babies will be leaving for college soon and sometimes I get teary eyed at the realization. Time does pass. Try telling a post-partem mom this and she looks like you have six heads! Now you are given a chance to recreate yourself again and pursue things you love. You are still a mom and in some respects your children will need you even more now as they negotiate these difficult youing adult years so take heart. I have a few years to go with my little ones so I'll be checking in to see any tips you have!

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