What can I do to adjust to my empty nest?

College is an adjustment for students, but the change also takes a toll on parents. Many parents of college students are still dealing with empty nest syndrome, and the struggle can recur each time a student returns to school for a new semester.  Dealing with loneliness, loss of purpose, or simply concern for the child can be overwhelming.  As your student moves back to the university and on to the next chapter of his life, use these techniques to help you move on as well.

Communicate with your Student

It is important for parents to stay in touch with students, but it isn’t necessary to talk several times a day, or even every day.  Consider a weekly or bi-weekly phone call or Skype session to check in and catch up.  Then use other forms of communication like texting or email to fill in the gaps.  That will enable you to tell your student something on your mind, but she can respond in her own time. Feel free to send your student a private Facebook message, but avoid filling his Facebook wall or liking all of his posts.

Invest in Relationships

Since you are probably finding yourself with more time than you used to, invest in relationships that can provide you with community, connection, and encouragement.  If married, take this time to get to know your spouse without having to plan around a child’s schedule. 

Go out with friends and have fun! 

Ask a co-worker to go to a movie or ask a neighbor to go on a walk.  Even if you don’t feel like being with people, you will find if you make up your mind to do it, you will be glad you did.  While you still might miss your student, you won’t be as lonely.

Rediscover Interests and Hobbies

Think about what you used to do before a child consumed your time.  Perhaps writing, crafts, exercising, or going to school got put on the back burner.  Now is the time to find something you are interested in and jump in with both feet.  Do you just miss having someone to help?  Find a cause you are passionate about and volunteer your time at a local organization. 

Adjusting to an empty nest takes time, but try to be an example to your student that life changes can be exciting, adventurous times. You will always be a parent, even as your relationship changes and grows with your adult child.