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Empty Nest Syndrome – Is It A Real Thing?

By admin


It’s that time of year again when a new university or college session starts and your children are filled with the excitement of starting out – a new beginning, a brand new life – away from home.

This empty nest feeling came back again a few weeks ago.  My youngest son was not at home anymore.  I woke up to a strangely silent house even though I’m sure he doesn’t make a noise sleeping other than the odd snort and snore!

It was weird though – the feeling was different.  I made a coffee and looked out across our back garden which looks right across to the Pentland hills far in the distance.  He was over there, the other side of the hills enjoying himself no doubt, or maybe still sleeping. I sighed and turned back and went into the house. That feeling of something missing, an important part that helps you function and be “normal”, a sense of purpose and order – all gone.

Now, just to put you in the picture, this was my 13-year-old son who was only away for two nights during the school holidays with his Auntie!

But with two adult sons as well, I have lived through and come out the other side of the leaving home thing – twice before!  The feelings can floor you and it is a sense of real pain and loss.  It helps to focus on the practical, important stuff – do they know how to do their washing, where is the best pub for freshers? Have they got a phone charger for their phone?

Walking away from a University room leaving your son standing in the middle of a pile of not-at-all-carefully packed clothes, guitars, amplifiers, laptops and posters is tough.  Your relationship is different now, this is the marker, the point where it all changes. You can dissolve into an emotional wreck or let the sense of a new adventure, new experiences, new friends override this.  One needs fewer hankies than the other!

Back at home, I tidied, washed bedding, worked – hell, I even did the ironing!  It is a temporary wave of emotion though and like all things, it does pass. Change is always challenging in one way or another. Knowing that once we have taken it on, and adjusted, life can even be better – just in a different way!

No more rocking in at 3am, trying to unlock the front door “quietly” or spilled takeaway curry on the bedroom floor!  You can even get the remote control back in your hands.

The way I look at it is it is an adjustment, a stepping stone to an even brighter future for me, my sons and all that they experience in life.  I came to the conclusion that worrying about what they were doing was a real waste of energy.

Keeping lines of communication going – even in this digital age – is paramount.  Taking on your new role as an occasional adviser but no longer the chief sock-washer, meal planner and “girlfriend judger” is a challenge.  STEP BACK!  They so need to make their own mistakes and their own successes on their terms.

Thankfully, I am out the other side of the empty nest feeling with two thriving, happy adult sons who do come and visit and who are very much part of my life – just when they feel they want to be.

One son still at home though.  4 years to go and this time will be the last.

Be strong, you are a better parent than you think, and anyway, there comes some point when they will always need their mum!



Read “Why & How to Get Started With Mindfulness” that our speaker Daryl wrote here:

Why & How to Get Started with Mindfulness