Are your chicks about the fly the nest?
As a parent, there comes a time when your children leave home, whether that’s for university, a relationship or just the decision to become independent. It is the natural way of things. So, if it’s completely natural, why does it come with such a mixture of confusing feelings? Feelings of low mood and sadness can be difficult to manage when conflicted with your child's excitement at moving on in their lives.
No matter how much you have planned and thought about this stage, it can still be a tumult of emotions going through it. After all, for many years you will have been the centre of and primary influencer in your child’s life. Your days, weekends, holidays are likely to have been fashioned around their needs, meals planned for their likes and dislikes, looking after them when they’re sick. A lot of your time and energy will have been spent considering them above yourself.
And it is likely that you will continue to support your child in many ways both emotionally and practically but the relationship between you will now start to move to an adult relationship, a more equally balanced one, where you will choose to spend time together as opposed to your living arrangements dictating time together.
So, how can you help yourself move through this period of change?
Creating new routines – plan your days to include things that you enjoy. You’ll have slightly less to do, there'll be less rooms to clean, less washing and so on. Less to do can be a lovely feeling with dreams of relaxing and kicking back, but often it can also mean time to think, time to feel unwanted, no longer needed. So, creating a rough plan to do activities you enjoy during these times will help you to stay positive.
Congratulate yourself – you’ve done a good job in raising an independent person who can stand on their own two feet and go out into the world. Take time to reflect on what they are achieving and the part you played in that. Parenting isn’t easy so this is a good reward for a job well done.
Learn something new – now is the time you could sign up for that class you have always wanted to try, take up some exercise, learn a language or new skill.
Stay in touch – communication is so much easier now. Yes, face to face is the best way with hugs and smiles but if they are too far away for a regular face to face, there are lots of options. Email and texting are both good but how about something like Skype instead of email so you can see each other, or Whatsapp instead of text where you can create a family group and have conversations including other family members. And be patient, they may find their lives are very busy and intentions of staying in touch are better than the reality, rest assured they still love you.
There are times when despite trying some of the above suggestions, low mood and a sense of grief seem too much to cope with and this is where therapy, particularly hypnotherapy can help. Working with a hypnotherapist to identify unhelpful thoughts and behaviours, devise coping strategies and create a healthy and positive approach to get you back on track and look forward to a future of new possibilities.
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About Shelley Cushway
I am a cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist and coach. I am also a mindfulness coach and trainer. I work with individuals supporting them to achieve their goals and overcome whatever is holding them back. I also run workshops and training sessions in mindfulness and building confidence.