My youngest has just left the nest and my definition of who I am, or who I consider myself to be, has altered – a lot.
While millions of children are excitedly starting school, just as many parents are experiencing a loss like they have never felt before.
Whether your child is starting Kindergarten or heading off to College or University, September is a time that many mothers (and fathers too), especially the ones that have chosen to be full-time parents, feel an intense combination of both freedom and loss.
The focus of the vast majority of your time and energy has suddenly disappeared and you are left wondering who you are without your children.
What is your mission now?
Your equilibrium is thrown for a loop.
Some revel in the seeming abundance of free time to do the things they’ve complained about, resented they couldn’t do, or wished they could while catering to the needs of the other members of their household.
Still others are mourning the loss of their entire identity.
Be it JK or undergrad, when you send your little one (my little one is over 6′ tall) off into the world alone, you are left watching their back, proud of who they are and the job you have done thus far.
But as they walk away and the path before you clears, you are left wondering what direction you are to take.
Where will this path-untrodden lead you?
You spent all your time preparing them, but no-one prepared you.
If you, like me, are facing this brave new world, think of September as the new January and make some resolutions for yourself.
Think of this as a time for your own personal growth.
Take this opportunity to nurture yourself.
Stuck for ideas?
5 Ways To Beat The Pity Party
1. Chum the Waters
Set up a regular schedule for meeting up with your friends. Whether it’s once a week for coffee and a chat or every morning for a brisk walk, getting together with your pals will inspire, relax and rejuvenate your likely (highly) neglected self.
2. Pastime Pleasure
Ever wanted to learn how to paint, dance, write poetry, glass-blow, woodwork? Now’s your chance. There are lots of classes offered at community centres and adult education schools. Or find a local “Meet-Up” online and make new connections with like-minded folks. There is no time like the present to pick up a new hobby or resurrect an old one.
3. Grow Your Gray Matter
Want to get back into the workforce but feel underqualified? Always wanted to learn another language? Want to learn more about a specific topic you’ve always been interested in? There are plenty of online webinars and free university courses ready for you to absorb. Or look into adult education courses at your local high school or college.
4. Weigh In On The Positive
Now is a great time to start a new exercise routine. Getting fit increases your energy and self-esteem. If you’ve been putting it off, your excuse just walked out the door so get up off the couch and march to a new beat – yours. Try a 30-Day Challenge to get you motivated and sticking to your goals.
5. Serve & Be Served
Volunteering is a great way to feel useful and appreciated with the added bonus of helping out individuals and organizations who need a hand. There are many volunteering opportunities such as childcare centers, schools, libraries, food banks, homeless shelters, senior centers, and hospitals to name only a few. Need more suggestions? Your library, church or community center may be able to point you in the right direction or try an online search through your town or city’s website. By serving others, you serve yourself.
Focussing your new-found time on things that interest you will not only take your mind off missing your ‘little’ one(s), it will boost your energy and attitude.
Use this time to forge a new path.
Explore its twists and turns and enjoy the scenery along the way.
There’s a new you waiting to be discovered.
For me, I’ve signed up for two Coursera classes and a pottery class!
Have your kids flown the coop? Share how you are feeling and coping.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rushpics/5077159890/