One of the hardest things about parenting is watching our children grow up and leave the nest- even though this is what we have been working towards and for since our baby’s first breath! Whether it’s heading off to school for the first time or moving out of the house as a young adult, the transition is not always easy for moms and dads. There is a loss involved and even a grieving process as we adults say goodbye to how things used to be at home. Although the change can be difficult, there are ways to make it less painful and even make it a joyful experience to open the next chapter of life. Here are some strategies to help parents get through this time:
Give Yourself Permission To Feel Sad and Excited
Often, parents feel confused that they feel both sorrow and liberation that they have more time to themselves. Sorrow because a child that they love won’t be around as much and won’t need them like they did before, and liberation because they not have more time to sleep, exercise, relax, and a number of other things. I encourage parents to embrace all emotions that they experience during this transition; don’t feel guilty if you’re looking forward to your son or daughter being away more of the time! Don’t try to suppress these feelings, as they’re totally natural.
Start Finding You Again
We put so much time, energy, and love into raising these precious children that being a parent naturally becomes a huge part of our self-identify. As transitions occur, and little kids become great big kids who aren’t around as much, it’s not uncommon to experience somewhat of an identity crisis, even a panic. Most of our adult life has centered to being with our kids and meeting their needs, so it can be a little tender for a parent when they no longer need us to respond to their every need, because they are figuring it out for themselves. If you find this to be the case for you, it’s time to get in touch with who you are in addition to being a parent. Perhaps you can take a class, spend more time with friends, and get back to hobbies you may have had to sacrifice in order to be there for your child. If this is overwhelming, start small with simple activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.
Know That There Are Good Things Ahead!
The famous author CS Lewis once said that there are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind. While it can be heart-wrenching to say goodbye to having little ones home with you during the day, think of all the wonderful adventures ahead (both for yourself and for your son or daughter)! This can be a wonderful time for your child to learn and grow in a way that he/she couldn’t if the transition didn’t happen. Cherish the memories you have, but also look forward to the ones you will create.