4 Ways to Adjust to Life As an Empty Nester

You've spent nearly two decades getting ready for your child's graduation, and now it's here. You're thrilled for her. You're proud beyond belief. But you're also unsure of what lies ahead for you. Here are 4 essential tips for becoming an empty nest single parent.

Celebrate Your Role in Your Child's Life

A single mom and her daughter on graduation day.
Celebrate all your hard work on Graduation Day. Photo © ImagesBazaar/Getty Images

Graduation isn't just a milestone in your child's life. It's also an opportunity to celebrate the many ways you have overcome obstacles, set a positive example, taught the importance of hard work, demonstrated the peaceful resolution of conflict, and given your child a sense of abundant and unconditional love. This has been no small task! So take some time to celebrate you—your role, your value, your impact. If you haven't done so already, this is the perfect time to make intentional self-care a habit.

Broaden Your Perspective

Woman writing in a journal.
Give yourself some time to write down your thoughts in a journal. Photo © Cultura RM Exclusive/DUEL/Getty Images

It's true that this time in your life feels like a loss, but it isn't just a loss. It's also a new beginning. Allowing yourself to take a broad perspective of what's happening will equip you to transform this bittersweet transition into a personal—and positive—turning point. If you haven't already started a journal, grab one now and write down what you're feeling.

Make Peace With Your Child's "Adult" Choices

Young woman with blue hair
Allow your adult child to make her own choices. Photo © Marie Killen/Getty Images

As your child exercises independence, he or she may wish to spend more or less time with the other parent. This can be challenging, especially if that parent has not been a big part of your child's life up to this point. Remember, though, that you have given your child the relational skills necessary to make healthy decisions, and the young adult years are a time when he or she needs to use those skills independently, without necessarily consulting you for input. While this may feel like a repetitive loss, you can also choose to view it with complete confidence in your child and what you've taught him or her.

Create New Routines

A mom using a tablet.
Create new routines for yourself as you adjust to being an empty nester. Photo © Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Finally, this is a time for you to explore new interests and do some of the things you occasionally thought about but never had the time for. Perhaps you'd like to begin dating, take a class, or reconnect with some old friends. Now is the time. In fact, starting to pursue some things "just for you" in the months leading up to your child's graduation will make becoming an "empty nest single parent" easier to accept and transition through.