Dealing with an empty nest
The baby boomer generation of people born between 1946 and 1964 are probably approaching one of life’s sweetest milestones — the empty nest. It’s the time when children become adults and leave the home to start their own lives.
Some parents look at this as a new adventure.
When Jerry and Linda Knight’s last child left home for college four years ago, the couple kept busy with activities . They started taking piano lessons together once a week and stayed involved with church events.
“When the kids were younger, there were more activities to do with them. Now that they are out on their own, there is more time to do what we want,” Jerry Knight says.
Dr. Jeffery Kreamer, a physician at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital/Advocate Condell Medical Center/Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, has also been an empty nester for past three years.
“Now that we have the home to ourselves, we are filling our lives with a whole host of new activities,” he says. “Of course travel and hobbies, but we have even been able to find the time for more fulfilling activities such as volunteerism and philanthropy.”
Others have a harder time dealing with it. Feelings of depression or grief when children leave home are known as Empty Nester’s Syndrome.
For those struggling with their children leaving, volunteering could be exactly what the doctor ordered.
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, research shows a strong relationship between volunteering and health: Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not.
Volunteering can also add purpose back to a parent’s life.
Here are other ways to get your life back after the kids are gone:
- Reconnect with friends. Spending time with your buddies while raising kids can feel like you’re trying to crowbar something else into your schedule. But now, your schedule may be a bit more open. Call them up and go out—every week.
- If you’re still craving that child-like energy, why not help another young family with their kids. Whether it’s after school babysitting, tutoring, or organizing field trips, your parenting expertise can offer support for moms and dads who might feel under water.
- Finally go for that career change. You may need to retool and start from the beginning but the extra time and reduced financial obligations now make this possible. Reinvent yourself in an industry that has always ignited your passion.
Empty nesters: Share your stories about how you coped after your children left home in the comments.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.