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COPING WITH AN EMPTY NEST; mind over matter.

Byline: WITH DR ELLIE MILBY

WHETHER they are starting university, setting off to travel the world or moving in with friends or a partner, children leaving the family home can be a difficult transition for any parent to navigate.

Children take up a lot of space; not just physically, but emotionally and mentally too. When the time comes for them to leave home and find their own place in the world, it can leave a huge gap in the lives of the parents who have invested so much in nurturing their offspring to this point.

The feelings of loss, loneliness and sadness that often accompany this period are collectively known as empty nest syndrome.

It affects people differently and to varying degrees - some may simply miss their children, others may feel like they have lost their sense of purpose and some will experience grief or depression. However, there are lots of things parents can do to ease this transition into the next chapter of their lives.

While this can undoubtedly be a difficult period of adjustment, it's also a time that has the potential for excitement, spontaneity and new opportunities.

Having children at home inevitably occupies parents' time, energy and space; resources you are now free to invest in other areas such as friendships, hobbies or career pursuits. Preparing for your empty nest can be a good idea in this respect by making specific plans while your children are still at home.

Introducing new activities and interests can be a welcome distraction and help give a renewed sense of purpose, but it's important to allow time to process and reflect on your feelings. Talk to your partner or friends, spend time going through your family photos and give yourself time to get used to new routines.

Remember, while this transition marks the end of an era for your relationships with your children, it also marks the beginning of another. Although they may no longer need you in the same way, your children will always want to return to a loving family environment.

Be proud of the secure base you have created for your children from which they feel safe enough to go out and explore the world.

| Doctor Ellie Milby is a counselling psychologist.

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Cope with empty nest syndrome by finding a new hobby

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Sep 15, 2017
Words:386
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