Experiencing Empty Nest Symdrome, Only Child Gone to College

Updated on September 23, 2014
K.N. asks from Cleveland, OH
12 answers

My only child is gone to college and I'm only 35, experiencing empty nest syndrome to the fullest this is the first time I have been by myself, there is no man in my life at this time, Any suggestions on how to get over the occasional cry sessions or does it just take time?

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Wow-K., you are still SO young. First let me say that I know nothing about you of course or your situation so this might not be the greatest advice but you could seriously start life #2 if you wanted. So many people don't even marry or have kids yet at your age. I had my first at 35. I would say if you aren't doing it already then get out there and follow your passions/interests/hobbies-do what you have always wanted to do, whatever that is. By doing this you will help to take your mind off of missing your kid and perhaps meet someone nice to share the rest of your life with.

hugs to you.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Well bravo for you... your child IS going to college... you must have done a good job, as a single Mom. :)

Next: just maintain a relationship with your child, without appearing 'clingy.' talk about things before your child leaves... make a 'tradition' of things... per her/his new milestone... give her/him something special... to cherish... even if a Poem that you write for him/her....
Make a 'tradition' of calling each other... and that he/she can call you ANYTIME for anything or just to talk about problems/concerns... and get together for holidays etc., or special outings together.

Its a new life for you.... and you will adjust, but it is hard.... my kids are growing up.. .and I fathom that feeling too, once they will be both in school.

you will have lots of time to spend with friends... join hobby groups, and perhaps even meet a NICE man! Mostly... concentrate on yourself, on self development... and not how 'lonely' you feel... and as you blossom in this 'new' life... it will be liberating.... and it will draw good things your way.

Do NOT... fall into the 'trap' of taking anything that comes your way... just because you feel 'lonely' as far as men are concerned. Because THAT... is important... honor yourself... and your choices.

all the best,

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Get together with other moms in your situation.. I went through this too. I called some of the other moms of my daughters friends and we met for Margaritas. We just talked about or kids and how they were doing and what our own plans were.. We talked about things we had always wanted to do, but couldn't because our children were always busy with school, homework activities.

I heard about a lot of good projects they were planning on doing. Some of my friends were teachers so I asked how I could help them. You could look into working part time or volunteering. Maybe take a class to learn how to do something you are interested in. Get on a new exercise program. Try Yoga. Think about the fall festivals you were never able to attend because of your childs activities..

Get on facebook and see if any of your old friends want to meet up. Get a friend to go and see a independent movie in the middle of the week. There is a local cafe has a "Trivia Night" once a week. We have a group of friends and meet once a week for an inexpensive dinner and play trivia.. It is a hoot. We break up into teams of 4 to compete. We all look forward to those nights.

We also have a moms group for moms of students that moved away to go to college. During the school year, we try to meet once a month for a potluck with wine and tea. We each bring something for a monthly care package.. If 10 moms are there we each take 10 of something. We then end up with an interesting collection of stuff to send to our children. Our kids feel like there is a community at home thinking of and supporting them. I have taking some of those 110 calorie packages of snacks, bandaides, teas, packages of mints, gum, crystal light packets, Rice Crispie treat packages, box of ziplock bags. socks, gloves. At Halloween some of the moms gave masks, tattoos, wall decorations.

We discuss the ups and downs our kids are experiencing.. we make suggestions, sometimes, we can offer a contact in that city or on that campus.

What you are feeling is very normal. Our daughter is over 2000 miles away and the ONLY thing that makes it bearable, is that she LOVES it and is doing so well.. She is thankful for her opportunity and we are extremely proud of her. You should feel the same. Good Job mom. This is what you were working towards this whole time.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I made new babies! lol But had I been thinking clearly, I would have taken time for myself. I could've taken the type of liesure classes I always wanted to take - pottery, advanced cooking, etc. I wanted to be needed so I should've volunteered or become a foster mom. I could've gone back to school or started a new hobby. I have seen moms get through it by crying into thier Merlot everynight - that was me :( I've also seen moms get through it by becoming so flippin busy that they didn't have time or energy to spend wallowing. That's me too now that I have new little ones. I've seen moms become so very useful and helpful to others that they were able to fill up the whole. Some moms become a "school mom" and show up to every college game, event, etc, and not let the kid gain thier independance. Some women go out and get a new man and go travelling! that one sounds fun. I vote for that one. Go out and get a hobby - something expensive that men like ... I know...golf. You're sure to meet someone fascinating that will take you to Hawaii and help you get over your heartache on a beach with an umbrella drink! ....... Hope my sillyness I at least made you smile today. :) Be strong mom. Our kids still need us. They will always need us. You've done a good job and you can be proud that you're only child is on the road to success and independance.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Wow - so unhelpful, but you are so young!, I am the same age as you and I have a 2 yo - I think it will take time, you are probably lonely, and you have put all your energy into your child for so long - the best thing would be to join some groups, or do that hobby you always wanted to do, take a trip, get a new job - you know what to do, it's just that you're so sad at the moment!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

First, congrats on raising a child at such a young age and getting him/her into college!!
Now, get out there! Use this time for you:) Join singles groups. Attend church or social functions. Find a young-professionals group. I know quite a few people who found pool or kickball leagues to join when they were single and moved someplace new - find something like that!
Make some new friends and live the single life you haven't for so long. You're still so young, live it up:)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Syracuse on

Its now time for you. During the time you spent being a great mother, did you ever long to do some of the things your peers did? Now is your chance. Have some close friends? Go on vacation with them, go to the beach, or sightseeing, or Vegas. Were you able to go to college? Well if you want to, now is your chance, plus this may help you relate to the things that your child is going through at the same time. Ever want to try someting new, wild, wacky, maybe a little crazy? Give it a shot! Go Skydiving! Too crazy, go bowling! Pick up a new hobby or intrest. Don't let this time alone discourage you. You diserve to have fun and enjoy your life! Go out there and do it!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

awww, bless your heart sweetie! i can't imagine how i'll feel when that happens to me - TEARS!!! but - like everyone else said, you have obviously done such a great job honey so let that comfort you sometimes when you're so sad and empty feeling... :)
also, i know you're sick of hearing it probably but you are incredibly young, i mean, you're kinda lucky!! lol! i'm 30 & just starting the journey of motherhood - girl i'll be 48 when my son goes off to school...won't have near as much opportunity & cuteness (ha ha) as a 35 yr old! :)
all the advice below's great - the hobbies, friends, a night or two out having fun for yourself...God knows your whole life's been dedicated to your sweet boy for the past 18 years! just wanted to give some support darlin - take care! :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

Hi K.
I honor your feelings and if it is an only child a first child or the tenth child...it is you child and the feelings are real. I'm not sure it goes away because your life changes from here on out as you once knew it...and it only is harder if you don't do things for yourself after a life of doing for others. Pick up a craft, find your hidden talent and explore it or join a support group to be with other people that have similar feelings. I guess for me the bottom line was to do something for myself that makes me feel good!! Good Luck
He's still your child and always will be, and I'm sure you are proud of him, that doesn't go away.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Good job on raising a child on your own. Take pride and a pat on the back as this is a big step in you and your child’s life, one that many single parents hope for. You raised a child on your own, proved all the "studies" and research done on single parents wrong (studies say that single parents raise druggy, street thugs, etc.) Your cry sessions are not of sadness, but of happiness because you know your child is starting a new chapter in their life, as so with yours. Enjoy your time, you put your life on hold to raise a wonderful person, do things that you could not do before (you deserve a little someone of indulgence too!)

My oldest (21 - is an IT tech at a major store, going to college and decided to start his own business) just left the nest at the beginning of August, and like you, I did all on my own-never received child support either. I did cry, but knew he could handle anything that came his way. I have not been out to have fun in 18 years (even to date) and focused on working two jobs and raising these children. I still have one child (who just turned 18) living at home, but he has two jobs to save up to go to trade school and I hardly see him. As I said when my youngest graduated High School “I am done and going to the corner bar!”

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boise on

My dad left my mom the week before I left for college, so she had MAJOR empty nest syndrome. Keep an open, friendly relationship with your child, but do things for yourself. A hobby, book club, out with friends, clean out the house. My mom started water aerobics, and I would join her on my breaks.


answers from Boston on

Make albums of her growing years. Present them to her for Christmas, Valentines and Birthday gifts.

Go ahead and cry!

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