Empty nest syndrome has to be one of the most difficult of transitions to work through as a woman and mother. For me personally it has been the greatest lesson in the art of letting go.

I distinctly remember the feelings as I watched my youngest son driving away. My last child to fly the nest. Feeling excited for him, then lost and then not really sure what I was meant to feel. It didn’t take long for the sadness to appear. The yearning for things to remain the same; I wasn’t ready to let go.

Faced with the four walls of my apartment and no partner. I was alone. I vaguely remembered in the past I had wished for more freedom, but now it was here, I didn’t want it.

In some ways I think I had it easier than most. I had a new business to focus on, which I had smartly initiated a couple of years before. My dad had also just returned to my life and lived just across the road. This certainly helped but I still found it hard.

I was finally dealing with the heartbreak of the proverbial empty nest syndrome

And until I was transitioning through it myself, I hadn’t even heard that term before.

When we have children, we are there for them consistently. We guide them and help them grow into people who are ready to live a fulfilled and happy life. I believe that’s our true purpose as a parent. We are just the caretaker until they are ready to fly.

During those early years our own life revolves around our children. They become the centre focus. As women, we often find it very difficult to even see a life for ourselves after children leave home.

Mothers begin to learn the art of letting go when children are quite young

We do this little by little without even realising it. From the first time they crawl. Right up to the time they pack their bags and close their bedroom door for the last time.

I distinctly remember finding it difficult to even walk past their rooms without feeling the loss after they had gone. Hanging onto my phone each time I sent a text message, waiting for them to reply.

Interestingly, this was nowhere near as challenging as time moved forward and they both found beautiful partners. No longer was I dealing with empty nest syndrome, but the practice of letting go really needed to be mastered.

Letting go of the need to be in touch with them everyday. Or to run to their assistance whenever they had a situation they found difficult. Stopping myself from jumping in whenever they had an important decision to make.

What eventually came to my attention is this. If I didn’t learn to let my boys be men, it would interfere with their growth. In addition to this our relationship would suffer too.

My relationship with my boys was and still is of the upmost importance to me. As is their own growth and personal happiness and fulfilment. So letting go was what I needed to do.

If you love something then set it free and if it’s meant to be it will come back to you

This proverb is generally used to refer to dating and relationships. But I believe that letting go of our adult children is essential if we want our relationship to evolve. When we set them free we allow them to grow and they come back to us as the most amazing adults. And they are more likely to want to be closer to us if we let go.

We already realise this on some level, but how do we get past the longing of the empty nest syndrome?

Feeling your emotions allows you to heal

If you feel heart broken then allow yourself to feel the sadness. Moving through empty nest syndrome is not only letting go of our kids, but also letting go of the old life we had with them. We also let go of our perception of the role of mother, which is changing rapidly.

There can be strong feelings of loss and grief associated with this transition, which can feel quite similar to the death of a loved one. It’s the ending of a chapter. Your role as mother of a young child has ended to make way for your new role as mother of an adult. This is more like a very close friendship.

By holding these feelings in you hold onto the pain and halt the healing process. By allowing emotions to flow, whether that be anger, sadness or grief you begin to let go. There is a lot of subtle strength and courage in allowing yourself to process emotion. This may take some time so be patient and kind with yourself. And if you have a partner, ask him or her to be patient and kind with you too.

Look for the gifts in your kids flying the nest

There are a few. Firstly there is a sense of freedom that we may not have felt for a very long time. Last time we felt this free, we also didn’t have the wisdom and experience we have now. This can really open up our world to amazing new experiences when we are ready to let them in.

I clearly remember feeling excited by the thought I could eat fish for dinner as much as I wanted. No longer did I have to cook huge amounts of spaghetti bolognese multiple times, which was a firm favourite of my boys’. My apartment also didn’t get as dirty as it used to. I didn’t have to cook each night if I didn’t want to. There were a lot of good things when I started to look.

You might not be ready to look for the gifts yet, but they are there. And when you are ready, I invite you to look.

Find new purpose by getting to know yourself again

You will always have purpose as a mother, that’s a given. But it’s not the full-time role you used to have and it will continue to evolve as your child gets older. So it’s essential you find purpose elsewhere too; when you are ready of course.

As you broaden your horizons your child will be happy and excited for you. They will see that you are finally letting go. In some cases they may even feel relieved, because they’ve possibly been worried about you. Adult children can be quite intuitive and sense more about you than you realise. So you are doing it for yourself, for them and your relationship with them too.

Finding new purpose after the empty nest transition begins with getting to know yourself like never before. You’re not the same person you were a few years ago. And you need to know who you are besides the role of mother to find purpose that lights you up again.

When you are ready, create some space and time to explore what makes you who you are. Define your own uniqueness as a woman besides all those important roles like that of mother.

Empty Nest Syndrome provides the perfect opportunity to learn the art of letting go

If we’ve found it difficult to let go in the past then our kids leaving home provides the perfect vehicle to learn now. The art of letting go is one of the most challenging skills to learn. It is intrinsic, but as a humans we like to hold onto certainty. In fact most of us prefer certainty to anything else.

The truth is though, truly letting go is the road to finding fulfilment again. We need to realise that we’re not letting go of our children never to see them again. We’re letting go of the need to know what’s going to happen next. Letting go of the need to be in their lives 24/7. Because that’s their choice now, not ours. It’s their time to launch.

And letting go is an integral part of your transition to finding new purpose and launching into your next incredible chapter.

When you are ready, of course.

Often we over identify with certain roles we have in life, being a mother is one of those roles. This means when those roles change we lose a sense of who we are and this can get in the way of finding new purpose. Working with a midlife coach or mentor will give you the guidance you need to get to know yourself like never before and identify your purpose now. If you would like to see if working with a midlife mentor and coach feels right for you, Book Your Initial Free Connect Call HERE