You have put your years, your love, your blood sweat and tears into raising your child/children. As a single mom dealing with an empty nest you might feel a flurry of emotions as you start heading towards the fact that you have raised some kids that are good enough to leave the house and live life on their own! So while it can be very overwhelming and the feelings of loss are nothing to be ignored, grab yourself and wine and lets talk about what we can do to make it a little better.
Empty Nesters – What feelings single-moms should look out for!
Sal Raichbach PsyD, LCSW makes it clear we should look out for the following warning signs
Parents get a tremendous sense of self-worth and satisfaction from nurturing and raising children. But, parents can be susceptible to an identity crisis when their kids leave their caregiver to start a life of their own. Without a sense of purpose, empty nesters are susceptible to feeling like they aren’t needed, valued or wanted. While these feelings usually subside, empty nesters who lack a sense of purpose are much more likely to become depressed and anxious.
Another common problem for single empty nesters is the loneliness of an empty house. If you’re constantly checking in with your kid or spending on their social media accounts, it’s a good indicator you’re having trouble letting go out of loneliness. Isolation is a common cause and symptom of depression, so it’s important to recognize that you’re lonely and do something about it.
Tara Arhakos, Licensed Professional Counselor and Nationally Certified Counselor states that
often single mother’s find themselves feeling a lost sense of self, lonely, and isolate after their children leave their home. Single moms on their own may find themselves unsure of what they’re interest, or hobbies are. You may find it more challenging to cook just for yourself. You might find you’re the one reaching out more often to your child and scrolling through Instagram just to keep tabs on what they are up to. And of course, you are finding it hard to disconnect with them. For the past 17 to 18 years your focus has been on your children.
A single mom experiencing empty nest syndrome may find their mood is sad, they have less energy and enthusiasm, and experience a decrease in self-esteem and self-confidence. You may begin to question accepts of your life, such as your career or romantic life.
Lizbeth Meredith, author of Pieces of me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters, talks about the impact of being an empty-nester is quadrupled when you’re a single mom. There is no one to talk you off a ledge when feeling abandoned, no one to distract you when your irrational feelings of betrayal come when your child successfully launches and doesn’t look back often enough and check in.
Warning signs of single-mom empty nest dysfunction can be feeling of abandonment, irrational anger when the child doesn’t call often enough, isolating oneself, and other signs that may morph in to depression.
Initially, it can be tempting to either move closer to the child who has launched or to distract oneself by jumping in to a new relationship. No big decisions during this transitional time is advised.
Robin Fisher Roffer, CEO of Big Fish Marketing and Fearless Career Coach at TONE talks candidly about the fact that letting go is never easy. Whether it’s a job, a project, a client, a child, or a spouse, we’re always struggling with some new fear or vulnerability. All of us. It’s human. We all have fear. But, what would your life look like if you weren’t in fear? Here’s how I’m dealing with the fear of being alone, letting go and moving on to what’s next.
5 tips to dealing with an Empty nest as a single mom
Tip one: Have A strong Support Network in place:
Mary Kaarto, Author & Speaker recommends that a mom has a strong support system in place ahead of being abandoned, if at all possible. Friends who are either going through or who have gone through the same situation would be ideal. Finding a singles group was one of the best things I ever did, because that’s where she found the best friends she could ever hope to find.
Tara Arhakos, Licensed Professional Counselor and Nationally Certified Counselor suggests reconnecting with friends, especially those in similar situations may be beneficial. Getting involved in new hobbies or interests, such as taking an art class or joining a book club or running club can help create structure. Structure outside the home can decrease your time alone in the home until it feels like your new normal. These activities can also expose you to new people and start up some new friendships. Re-focusing on you and your goals. This is an excellent time to practice more self-care. And with any major life transition, which this is indeed a major one, seeking the help from a professional can assist you through this transition and developing new goals and expectations for yourself. Working with a professional can help you redefine who you see yourself as and work towards the lifestyle you most desire at this point in your life.
Robin Fisher Roffer, CEO of Big Fish Marketing and Fearless Career Coach at TONE talks about how crucial it is to really solidify friendships If you’re needing to let go and move on (like me), now’s the time to go deeper in your female relationships. I am so lucky that almost all of my clients are women and they are among my closest friends and confidants. We know everything about each other’s lives, the names of our children, the trials and tribulations of our love lives, many have come to my home in Santa Fe, and sometimes we travel together. To recognize women who have your back and can be a champion for you, use your intuition. Gather them and keep them close because these relationships, when they become collaborative, will be the foundation of your business and the joy of your career. Whether you’re an executive, professional, entrepreneur or consultant, your network of women are going to see you through
Tip Two: Strong Communication
Mary Kaarto, Author & Speaker recommends the single mom has a talk with her child before they leave, making sure they know she will be fine, for them to not worry about her (because they shouldn’t have to at this time of their lives), and that they know she will always be available to them if needed. The former advice alleviates the child’s guilt; the latter, the mother’s.
Tip 3: Creating your dream life
Mary Kaarto, Author & Speaker the single mom needs to create a new life for herself and learn to ENJOY her newfound freedom! Be PROUD of her accomplishments as a single mom, as – really – the last thing any parent should want or expect is for their adult child to remain at home forever. She can now spend a little money on herself and try some new hobbies and/or volunteer, which she highly recommends as that’s a great way to meet others and find inner joy.
Sal Raichbach PsyD, LCSW suggests that you take time to realize you still have a purpose. Once you come to terms with empty nest syndrome, you can start finding purpose in other areas of your life. Try using the extra time to pick up a new hobby or reconnect with old friends. Simple, fun things to do can help you stay productive and find meaning in something new.
Tip 4: Self Care
In our post “Staying sane as single mom” we cover off some great self care tips for you to follow and try. One practical tip we can suggest from our knowledge of selfcare is to develop new friendships/hobbies/ engage in activities on a consistent regular basis; Make sure every Tuesday (or a day you love) is your _________ day. Keep your scheduled filled with things you enjoy!
Mary Kaarto, Author & Speaker, says it is important that the single mom take care of herself on every level, especially when it comes to drinking alcohol. Far better for her to eat healthy, join a gym or walking/biking club and get her highs in a natural way that is best for her and her child/children in the long run.
Lizbeth Meredith, blogger and author, states that Self care is important. She eventually began making herself useful outside of work, volunteering with hospice, exercising more often. After she published her memoir, she spent a lot of time doing events around the country, connecting, swapping stories, and redefining her life’s purpose. Eventually, she learned to enjoy solo travel.
Sal Raichbach PsyD, LCSW says that knowing that whatever you’re feeling is OK. Grief is normal when you turn the page on one chapter of your life and open another one. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions arise for you. Coming face-to-face with your uncomfortable emotions helps you process and overcome them, rather than forcing them down.
Dr. Claudia Luiz, author of, The Making of a Phsycoanlayst; says the best way to deal with the resentment is to embrace it. Knowing and accepting the feeling can protect your child from you unwittingly expressing it through sarcasm, recriminations, or just half joking remarks about how ungrateful they are. You want to make sure to be as proud of your achievements raising a child who is separate, as any mother, and to express that pride Without reservation or negativity. Remember: children who have no desire to separate are not necessarily better off; if your child doesn’t have that difficulty, it means you did a good job. Second, happiness is the best revenge. You are free now. You can even start saying “no” more. This is your time.
Tip 5: Talk to someone
If you find you are not coping well on your own – take the time to find a good councilor or someone you trust to confide in. Talking is a great way to overcome those really heavy emotions.