How Did You Cope with Your Empty Nest?

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  • Theresa

    My son just left for college and I find myself at a loss as to what to do next. As a single mom for the last 20 years, I’m not sure what my purpose is now and my house feels desperately empty. This may seem like a trivial issue because it’s the natural order of things for kids to grow up and leave, but I’m finding it to be an extremely unpleasant experience.

    My question is this: how did all of you deal with this issue? What did you do to get through the grief and come out a happy, healthy, independent adult with grown children? Is there anything that could be done to prepare yourself for this in advance, or is it just something that you have to deal with head on? Eagerly awaiting any replies!


    I’m a single mom, too, and it was tough. I actually ended up moving to a city closer to where my kids are but I didn’t do it just for them. The best thing for getting through (note I didn’t say OVER) empty nest is to get involved in activities that you enjoy. Get out of the house, find groups your age that do things you love, and make a life for yourself.

    As single moms, we had an overdeveloped “mom” side and an underdeveloped, or in my case non-existant, sense of ourselves as women. That’s the part that you really need to focus on now. It’ll feel weird for awhile and you’ll probably feel guilty the first few times that you’re having fun, but you’ll soon get used to it and start to build a real life for yourself! Go out and enjoy your life now – you’ve earned it! :)


    Theresa, I was also a single mom for 20 years. I loved being involved in both my kids (daughter and son 15 months apart)activities. When they reached high school, my daughter’s competitive dance, and my son’s baseball was my life. Aside from hauling kids, I was active in the parent groups for both. I worked as a medical transcriptionist from home which allowed me the freedom to determine my own work days, which a lot of time began once their activities were done for the day. I loved my life and feel so fortunate to have been able to share that with them.

    When my youngest left for college, I so clearly remember sitting at my computer playing solitaire crying my eyes out. All. Day. Long. I was totally lost. It seemed to have gone from our frantic, crazy, exciting life one day to total silence. I agree it’s a really difficult time.

    After a respectable period of mourning (wink), I got tired of myself and began to realize that this was now my time. I enjoyed my work, so I took on a bit more. I loved volleyball, so I joined a rec league that I looked forward to twice a week. I reconnected with friends I had lost touch with. I signed up for charity 5K walks. I rediscovered crochet and sewing that I hadn’t had time for in years. I dated. I read. I became so empowered I created a website supporting women like us: Getting involved with other women is so helpful!

    I still missed my kids terribly, and talked to them regularly, but I realized that life is always changing, and I began to enjoy this new phase of my life.

    Use the time to reinvent yourself. After so many years of putting your children first, although it will feel selfish at first, start putting yourself first and taking care of YOU. I promise it will be the beginning of a new life for you. You’ve done a good job, mama. Reward yourself.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by  Patti.
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