How to Survive Empty Nest Syndrome as a Single Parent

Parents can devote their whole lives, and some may even give up on their dreams and lifegoals to focus solely on raising their kids.
But the day will come when every child grows up and has to continue their journey on their own. The outcome is that parents are left behind, not knowing what to do with themselves now, also known as empty nest syndrome.

This guide will explain what it is precisely and how to survive empty nest syndrome as a single parent, especially.

What Causes Empty Nest Syndrome?

As your last child leaves the nest (hence the name), as a parent, you’re likely to experience grief-like feelings of sadness, loneliness, and loss of purpose. There’s no doubt that we all want what’s best for our children, and seeing them grow up and progress with their lives is what you’ve worked for your whole life. It’s still a huge transition, however, when your children no longer surround you. You’ll probably miss being a part of their lives, along with the closeness and friendship you had with them.

Empty nest syndrome is likely to affect women more than men since they usually take on the role of primary carer, and full-time mothers might have a hard time adapting than working mothers.

Single parents, on the other hand, are the most prone to experiencing empty nest syndrome at higher levels since the lack of a partner can lead to unprovided support and sympathy.

Life After Empty Nest

As mentioned above, parents can feel a loss of purpose or identity when they’re no longer playing the parenting role. It can, in turn, affect their daily life. Parents can become depressed, turn to alcoholism, face an identity crisis, or have frequent conflicts with their partner if they’ve got one. However, studies have shown that not all parents are negatively affected by the departure of their last child.  

Some parents found that their marital conflicts have reduced as there’s no financial, work, or family strain, which can unintentionally happen when raising kids.

How Empty Nest Syndrome is Harder on Single Parents

In households with a single parent, the parent and the child usually rely heavily on one another for support and attention since they don’t have anyone else to turn to. Some single parents also involve their kids in making big decisions, which is why they feel lost without them being there for guidance. 

The empty nest syndrome symptoms are heightened from lack of partner support, and the parent is likely to experience three primary emotions.

  1. Anxiety: Symptoms include panic attacks and the feeling of being irritated and having difficulty relaxing all the time. Single parents’ anxiety or a shift in behavior can go unnoticed by friends and family.
  2. Loneliness: Whether it’s the last child or your only child that’s leaving, a one-person household will always feel much lonelier. A single parent won’t have the love and support of a partner that can relieve some of the loneliness.
  3. Depression:  It is a tsunami wave that hits a single parent once their child is gone, and they’ll find that they’re sad most of the time, they cry frequently and tend to have more negative thoughts. An object or a place where memories were once made can be a huge trigger for the parents.

How to Deal With Empty Nest Syndrome

If you’ve had to leave your dream job to stay at home and raise the kids, it’s never too late to go back. Revisit your career goals and start with the simplest of them. Networking is a great way to find employment opportunities, and doing volunteer work is a perfect place to start. It’ll divert your energy towards something useful, which will lift your self-esteem.

  1. Seek Support From Loved Ones: Reconnecting with friends and family and seeking their emotional support can improve your mental health. Sharing your thoughts and feelings or just hanging out and having fun with them will boost your happy mood and make you feel loved.
  2. Visit New Places: Was seeing the Eifel Tower of Paris or eating your way through Italy on your bucket list, but you felt that the time nor the finances were on your side? Well, now is the perfect time for you to start traveling and seeing places you’ve always dreamed about visiting for so long. It will help return your feeling of independence and freedom.
  3. Check Up on the Kids: You know you want to, but you’re not sure how much is too much. Sounds familiar? You can call, text, and video chat your children to keep yourself updated with their lives and to update them on yours. You can also seek their help in times of need. But don’t overdo it to the extent that they’ll be looking forward less and less to seeing your name pop up on their screen. Every parent knows their child, so they’ll be more aware of how much communication is acceptable.
  4. Start Dating Again: Dating can be pushed aside or deemed unimportant during a single parent’s life because working hard to raise their child is their number one goal. However, finding a partner can be of great help during this transitional phase of your life and can provide you with the support and love that you need. Make sure that you’re not dating for the sake of replacing what you’re missing and that you find someone who’ll be there for you.
  5. Seek Professional Help: Although it’s not a clinical diagnosis or a disorder, it can easily affect parents’ lives and their mental health, leading to more serious issues if it goes unrecognized by friends and family. If you feel like the symptoms are getting out of hand, and you can’t cope with yourself, make sure you contact a therapist or counselor for professional support.
  6. Chirping in Your Empty Nest: Having a whole place to yourself that once used to be packed with children or a single child can seem very intimidating and challenging to adapt to in the beginning.

However, once you start doing all the things you promised you’d do ‘one day’ and finding new activities and people to meet, you’ll feel the freedom and the sense of self-worth coming back to you.

Although you’re a mother/father, you’re still your person, too, with your dreams and goals to achieve. So start achieving!

Sharing is caring!