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8 Ways to Cope with an Empty Nest

You may look forward to a time when children flee the nest or you may just dread the day. If you are facing an empty nest at the moment, we chatted to our own Head of People to offer tips on what parents can do next.

What do parents do after their children leave the nest? It’s certainly a milestone that some look forward to and others dread, but as parents across the country bid farewell to children heading off to school and university, we decided to chat with Emer Slevin-Coleman, Head of People here at Drench, to offer some support.

She says: “It's never easy, whether children are leaving to start school for the first time just for the day or heading off on a more permanent basis and moving further away. We always want to help prepare and support our working parents that may need it by offering advice and we hope some of these tips are helpful for anyone who is facing this milestone in life.

“One really important thing to remember when faced with a sudden empty nest is that this time is also precious. You have done a fantastic job raising and supporting your children over the years and now you can take some time back for yourself to do things you love and enjoy.

“Some parents may still be super busy at the height of their careers, so they can really make the most of having a little extra time to themselves. Appreciate that although always happy to do it, those school runs are now a thing of the past, affording more time to perhaps network a little more and not wrap ourselves up in knots trying to multi-task work and home life!”

Finally fancy the bathroom of your dreams?

With University semesters expected to start over the next couple of weeks, Emer offers these tips for parents facing an empty nest.

1. Staying connected 

Agree in advance with your children what works best for them in terms of keeping in touch. Nobody wants to be an annoying parent, however it is good to know they are happy and secure in their new setting. Perhaps a planned call or FaceTime once or twice a week, and for those who are more tech savvy there is always SnapMaps if you are worried and want to do a quick check! 

2. Start a book or writing club or a career networking space

Clubs are a great way to meet kindred spirits as well as giving you a focus in your spare time. It’s easy to find existing groups either through colleagues at work, via your local council or by searching online through sites like Meetup, for example. But, if you don’t have access to these types of clubs in or around your local area then setting one up by yourself is relatively simple. 

You really only need one or two other people to start a networking group. Reaching out to work friends and colleagues is a great place to start and gives you the opportunity to develop new relationships that you might not otherwise have. It's so lovely to have space to discuss ideas and challenges in our working environments and a great way to learn things that work and that don’t. I would be lost without my business networking groups over the years, and also really love giving back the time to them now also and helping others succeed!

3. Take up a hobby

Many of us talk about trying new things but don’t often have the time to do so when the challenges of family life and busy schedules get in the way. However, if children are now not living at home for the majority of time, try to carve out some time for yourself, amongst any extra work you have with  a new hobby or pastime. 

Hobbies are great to get out and about too. Art classes are very popular and offer an added benefit of meeting new like-minded people, as does wildlife or nature photography to explore the great outdoors while you snap. If you want to challenge your brain even further then try learning a new language or to play an instrument like the piano. Lunching with your friends who may be in the same boat as you and have not had much time to meet up over the past few years can be very rewarding. Not least to remind us that we now have time for those much needed chats putting the world to rights!

4. Get fit 

Joining a gym will not only benefit your mental, emotional and physical health but you’ll be able to meet and mingle with lots of other people which may just spark new relationships as well. If you don’t like the idea of joining a gym then try an online yoga or pilates class or get your bike out of the garage and discover the beauty of your local area again.

For those that really want to try something new: hiking, rock climbing, ice skating, fencing, martial arts or ballet might seem out of reach but actually they are all really exciting and challenging sports to try at any age with the right instruction. 

5. Holiday more often 

Now might be the time to finally have that holiday you have always dreamed of, especially if you don’t have the responsibility of lifts and clubs taking up a lot of time in your week. Go on a cruise, find a paradise island or city hop around Europe, you are now able to do it your way with your partner, with friends or on your own! 

6. Redecorate 

Sometimes the best medicine is to start afresh. If you’ve been putting off redecorating at home for a while then this offers up the perfect opportunity to do it. Whether you’ve been dreaming of a home office or a dressing room, now you might finally have the space and the room to do it! 

Similarly, if you’ve been wanting to renovate certain areas of your home, you’ve probably got more time and space to go for it. Start small by having a refresh in the bedroom or bathroom and then go on from there. Small updates can have a massive impact and now you have a kid-free zone, you can really put your own personality into it. You may also be welcoming back returning Uni students over the holidays, so a great excuse to look at space and how that can be used more efficiently.

Drench has a fantastic 3D design service which you can use to find and fit the perfect bathroom. Our designers are experts and can help create the space you've always dreamed of leaving no detail out!

7. Volunteering or part-time work 

If you don’t work outside the home then the idea of an empty nest can be even more daunting as you may not have any distractions from it during the day. If you find you have too much free time, you can always look to do a part-time job or volunteering.

Have a think about the causes you really care about, the skills and attributes you can offer and the amount of time you have to devote to it. Then research the opportunities that are out there. Job sites will advertise volunteer roles as well as paid employment and you can also search online at platforms like: Do IT. 

LinkedIn is great for networking and also showcasing your skills. There are many opportunities to enlist in “returners” forums and agencies that will support those returning to work after a time away from it. This is one of the reasons we champion remote working at Drench because it allows people more opportunity to be successful in their career while still having space for themselves.

8. Seek professional help

Do not be afraid to seek professional help if you are finding it difficult to cope with an empty nest or just want the opportunity to talk with someone who can listen and help you process what’s happening in your life. Your workplace may have an EAP, so speak with your HR/People Support Dept, this is a great first step to linking up with ideas and coping mechanisms.

Reaching out to your local GP and other similar services can be worthwhile if you are thinking it's all getting a bit much for you. Changes in lifestyle and life set up can be very daunting and depending on the support mechanisms you have in place you may just need that extra help, and there’s no harm in asking for it.

Is a new bathroom on the cards? We've got plenty of ideas and inspiration on our blog and you can also browse the latest bathroom furniture, shower enclosures and freestanding baths to really get the juices flowing! 

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