For many years I began to feel a little low in my mood around September, yet couldn’t really understand why. I absolutely love Autumn, the change of colour all around us, the nights beginning to draw in and its my Wedding Anniversary month too, so why did I feel like this?
At some point I related it to when I left home! The nip in the air, trees changing from green to red, orange and gold, the darker nights and feeling a bit lonely, things that were all quite significant.
It had been September, I had just turned 18 after qualifying as a Nursery Nurse and my plan had always been to move away from home to be a private nanny living in London.
I'd applied for a job and before I knew it was sitting on a train returning home after an interview with a lovely family, knowing I’d be leaving home, I had my first job!!
There had been a mixture of emotions, the family lived in a beautiful house in Surrey & I was responsible for a little boy of 2.5 with a new baby due the following January, all my boxes had been ticked! But when I'd told my Mum I'd burst into tears…. I was leaving home! Not for a minute had I thought about how she was feeling, it had been all about me! I was spreading my wings and flying the family nest! I was going to be working, have my own money and FREEDOM!
Fast forward in what seems the blink of my eye, now I WAS the parent watching my son prepare to leave home. It all happened in a bit of a whirlwind, he’d returned home from a trip to Thailand to attend an interview in Cambridge, he was offered the job a couple of days later and within 2 weeks we were stood on the porch steps waving as he drove away!
Gut wrenching! Is how I would describe it!! For all of those years you’ve cared and loved and provided and then they’ve gone! A sense of purpose has driven away, turned left at the end of the street and although your still Mum (and Dad) everything has changed! My child had moved away from Newcastle Upon Tyne and headed South.
For many Dad’s its difficult too, they spend so much of their lives heading out to work, missing elements of their child’s life, lost opportunities and suddenly it can’t be reversed. Unless you’ve experienced it you really don’t know how your going to feel or cope. You may feel depressed, sad, lonely and have a sense of loss. For me I felt empty, my son, my pal, had gone. He'd grown up, no longer needing me! It hurt, I ached, I cried!!
The void is huge (empty nest syndrome is a great way to describe it), I have a husband and a daughter, so am not alone but the dynamics had completely changed, setting the table for three instead of four, you miss their voice, hearing about their day, but it does with time get easier.
You'll have more quality time, maybe with your husband/partner, have more time to enjoy your other children (if you have them). You’ll have more time for things you want to do, start new hobbies, learn new skills and remember they do come home. It’s a natural progression after all, would we really want our children living with us forever??
My son has been a boomerang boy on two occasions and now has his own home and life is good for us all! I keep threatening to visit his house and leave a trail of stuff so he knows exactly where I’ve been (like he did) but will instead wait for when it’s his turn and chuckle at his family life, just as my parents have done with me.
This is such a period of adjustment, life becomes very, very different, cherish the precious times together, enjoy seeing your child become a man/woman and pat yourself on the back for the exceptional job you've done, being a parent is the hardest job you will ever do but we are so very, very lucky to have had the opportunity. There are many that don't!
Here are my top tips
* Make allowances for your own self-care, this is a period of adjustment
* Allow yourself the time to wallow, a good cry never does anyone any harm.
* Eat healthily
* Get plenty of sleep
* Plan your downtime, meet up with friends, have a night out with your partner/husband
* Talk, its always good to talk - others may understand how you’re feeling and offer support
* Talk to your GP If your feeling depressed or anxious
* Spoil yourself, book a hair appointment, choose a Holistic Therapy (it will help you feel re- balanced, relaxed and calmer)
* Keep in touch with your youngster but don’t panic if they don’t pick up or reply straight away, they’re probably embracing the freedom!
* Have fun as a family unit, (remember not having a sibling at home can be difficult too).
Rachel Hunter is the owner of R&R Therapy, based on Benton Park Road, South Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, offering a range of holistic therapies to help you feel re-balanced, calm, soothed and cared for, making your health and wellbeing a priority.