Filling the nest without children in it

By Guest Blogger, Emma May, Director of Operations & Employment, Work Avenue

Reading the entries of the Latte Lounge Facebook page, it is unsurprising that certain topics and themes recur for us over and over again. Top of the list is, ahem, ladies health issues at a certain age. Of course it is!

We also talk a lot about our relationships with our partners, and concerns we have with our children, some of whom are still younger, others of whom are growing up and gaining independence.

Occasionally I see posts relating to how we feel when our children leave home. These posts are often filled with sadness, with a feeling of “what now?” – as though we have reached the end of a long journey, our job having been completed.

But it does not have to be like that. Here are some tips to try to reshape this significant life phase into something more positive.

Acknowledge and deal with the changes.

There is no doubt that this is a hugely significant change in family life. As such, it is probably best to not try to be in denial. You have raised your kids to lead fulfilling and independent lives so this is a mark of your good parenting. Do seek professional support if necessary to help you process the emotional changes and find a coherent internal narrative.

Start to think about finding your new purpose.

For what seems like forever, your purpose has firmly been your family. At times, it has been supremely challenging and certainly all-consuming, serving to emphasise even more your apparent lack of purpose currently. Right now, you need something new to get behind. Perhaps you have a hobby you can devote more substantive time to? Maybe you resonate with the workings of a charity and would like to get more involved?   Perhaps this is the time to think about getting paid work, which can only be a good thing for the household coffers.

Be honest with yourself about the skills you have – or more importantly, those that you think you need to develop.

And do please try to do this with a positive hat on. As women, we tend to be over-critical, particularly of ourselves, and find it only too easy to fixate on our lack of skill or capability. But we all know education and training are wasted on the young, and you now have the perfect opportunity to either advance your education in a way that perhaps was not possible when you were younger, or develop your contemporary skills to give you more confidence in today’s world.

There are fantastic opportunities out there for training and development, available in so many formats, from full degrees to short online courses (and everything in between). Seek the advice of someone who can guide you through and help focus on what might make the best sense and give you the most stimulation. This will also undoubtedly lead to new social groups and networks: an added bonus!

Once you are newly upskilled, you are really ready to think about gainful employment.

Doors may close, but please believe that other ones will open. Building new networks and gaining contemporary skills will lead to a renewed energy and positive focus, which in itself will stimulate fresh opportunity. It is widely known that most job opportunities arise from someone we know, or someone they know. You may well have to put yourself outside of your comfort zone, which will feel very brave. But ask yourself what is the worst that can happen, and then steel yourself and keep taking positive steps forward. It is definitely worth taking advice from an expert, who understands today’s jobs market and can ensure that your efforts are sensibly channelled, and realistic in a positive way.

And finally don’t forget that your family is still your family, just their location which may have changed.

You may think that your maternal purpose has ended, but of course it hasn’t. Your family still need you as they always did; it’s just that their needs have changed a little. And they want you strong, energised: the new version of you, ready to be there for them and support them as they enter the new phase of their lives too.

 

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