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7 Ways to Beat the Empty Nest Blues

May 06, 2019 2 Min Read Pam Holland-Moritz

Key Takeaways

  • Use the change in family dynamics as an opportunity to focus on yourself.
  • Learning a new skill is not only rewarding, but can be beneficial for an aging brain.
  • Always wanted to have a regular exercise routine? It’s never too late to start.


Some parents eagerly count down the days until their children leave home to begin the next chapter of their lives.  As the last fledgling departs the nest to start college, get married, or begin a career in another town, some moms and dads celebrate their new-found freedom and look forward to a wealth of new possibilities.

For other parents, the empty nest phase can be overwhelming and pose unanticipated challenges.  Devoted caretakers, who’ve been accustomed to ensuring their offspring’s welfare for the last 20 or so years, often do not know how to switch off that behavior and focus on themselves, or on activities beneficial to their own needs.



Here’s a list of things parents can do to enrich their lives, and lessen that feeling of “what do I do now?”

  1. 1. Ramp up your social life

    You’re no longer bogged down by carpooling details, making appointments, or cooking and doing laundry for multiple people.  Consider using more of your free time to meet with friends and have a regular date night with your significant other. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but sneaking in a movie, or a quick trip to the used bookstore during the week, can really put that spring back in your step.

  2. 2. Get that body moving

    Regular exercise has proven to be psychologically and physically beneficial.  So buy yourself some new footwear and make it a point to be active as often as possible. Maybe it’s time to try a new workout, or team up with a buddy to keep you on track with your new fitness regimen.  You’ll feel better about doing something healthy for yourself and it will chew up some of that free time you now have.

  3. 3. Expand your skill set

    Always wanted to try your hand at glass blowing, or learn how to sail?   Now you have the time to pursue those ambitions.  Peruse adult school catalogs and search online for an activity that excites you.  And you’ll also be doing your brain a favor. Learning a new skill has been said to be a great way to keep your gray matter sharp Opens in new window.


  4. 4. Plan your next adventure

    Half the fun of experiencing something new is the anticipation of what lies ahead. But if your budget doesn’t permit that trip to the Galapagos Islands this year, maybe a long weekend in Nantucket will do the trick. You still can get excited as you research lodging, entertainment, local restaurants to try out, and activities that top your “Must Do” list while you’re there.

  5. 5. Set a new milestone

    Take the opportunity for more “me time” to create some new challenges for yourself.  Maybe this is the year you want to complete a 10K.  Or perhaps begin reading some of the classic works of literature you always intended to get to. Whatever your new goal, tackle it at a reasonable rate and give it your complete attention. Chances are you’ll have accomplished one more thing to be proud of before you know it.

  6. 6. Give back

    Keep your eyes and ears open for new ways to share your talents.  Know a lot about cars?  Maybe there are some online forums that would be interested in your feedback.  Love four-legged and furry creatures? Maybe you can help out at a local animal shelter. Local libraries often sponsor ESL programs, giving volunteers the chance to share their love of language with others. Donating your time and skills opens up new avenues for making connections with others. Give it a shot, you might find it to be very rewarding.

  7. 7. Put your house in order

    Now that there are fewer people to create havoc, you can really concentrate on sprucing up the old homestead. Reduce the clutter by donating, storing, or throwing out things you no longer need, (like those Christmas gift receipts from 2009 that were stuck in the back of your closet). Replace worn out carpeting, and treat yourself to new bed linens and towels to freshen up those rooms.  Chances are once you get started, you might not want to stop.


What you can do next

Take a few baby steps and see if a new area of interest is for you. Ideally the positive feedback you receive from making even a small change will lessen the empty nest blues and help give your spirits a lift. Now don’t you feel better already?


Pam Holland-Moritz is married with two sons, and parent to two fur babies. She’s also an avid collector of useless movie and television trivia.


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