It has been a year since I moved my youngest to college. A year! It really seems longer than that. I still get teary eyed thinking back to that time. So many emotions. So much to do and then BAM! Its over. All the planning, moving, getting furniture…It was over. Just me, my 2 cats and Buster. I remember quite vividly leaving Auburn and turning up the song, ALL BY MYSELF singing and crying. It was quite pitiful. I can laugh about it now, but it’s taken a year.
If you have just left your youngest child at college and are sitting around feeling quite shell shocked, this is for you. It may take a minute Momma. Sending your child out of the nest is a milestone. It’s going to take time to catch your breath. You are allowed to feel whatever it is you are feeling. In fact, I HOPE you feel your feelings. You cannot eat, drink, or smoke your feelings away. Well, you can but I don’t recommend it. I have tried it. It never worked out.
When you go through life changing events, it’s easy to start incorporating bad habits. Anything to numb the pain so that we can be ‘FINE’ once more. Here’s the thing. It was a fantastic ride and we will have memories that last a life time. But that chapter is over.
I was excited for my kids. I was so proud. But for me, the pain of empty nesting was as real as burying both parents and even my divorce. That dang fear of abandonment crept in and took my breath away. I really wasn’t expecting it, after all shouldn’t I be happy? Excited? Proud that my kiddos had flown the nest and were off to bigger things?!? Well sure! That doesn’t mean there wasn’t sadness, grief, & loneliness. They can all coexist.
What do you do now?
Acknowledge how you feel. Quit gaslighting yourself by suppressing and invalidating your thoughts or emotions. Get to know your strengths. Click HERE to take The VIA Character Strength Survey. It is a free self-assessment that takes less than 15 minutes and provides a wealth of information to help you understand your best qualities. Learning and applying your strengths can help you reduce stress, build meaning and purpose, and accomplish goals.
Start a daily gratitude practice. There is nothing too small to big thankful for.
Get reconnected to you and your spouse. Read books. Plan trips. Talk! Run around the house naked.
Notice ruminating thoughts. The thought that kept coming up for me is “I am all by myself.” Sit with whatever your thought is and ask yourself is that true?
Take time. Figure out what you want. Set goals. As a couple and for yourself. What do you want next? Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 20?
Set your mourning routine. Your morning routine sets the stage for the rest of your day. Need some inspiration? Check out Miracle Morning (movie or book) by Hal Elrod
Starting anything new can be stressful and uncomfortable. Empty nesting is no different. Breathe.
For those of you not quite to that empty nesting stage yet, set your goals. What are the values you want your child to take away? How are you going to implement them? Goal-setting creates structure that allows you to visualize success and mitigate stress. If your goals are stressing you out, start smaller.
If you have been empty nesting for a while, share your story. Be a light that shines for others.
I am a certified health coach that works with women to age gracefully, lose weight and stress less without feeling deprived or worn out. Accountability eliminates the time and effort you spend on distracting activities and other unproductive behavior. If you need help finding your WHY and moving forward, schedule your FREE discovery call HERE.