It’s back to school again (can you believe it!) and you’re busy juggling your kids’ schedules, last minute shopping, transportation, lunches, and anything else that needs to happen for a successful school year. Some of you may be sending your kids to pre-k or kindergarten, some to elementary, while others to middle school or even high school.
For moms in the latter category, you’re probably starting to grapple with the idea of becoming empty nesters. Yikes! And if you have an 8th grader or high schooler, you might even be feeling like one already since he or she may have declared their independence and spends less time with you.
It’s a scary thing to go through. One minute you have this little person hovering around you and hanging on to your every word and the next, you have a young adult.
“…parents dealing with empty nest syndrome experienced a profound sense of loss that might make them vulnerable to depression, alcoholism, identity crisis, and marital conflicts…” – Mayo Clinic
Recently, a friend and I were having a casual chat about her children and how fast they had grown and become independent. One’s off to college soon and the other two are in their early teens. They would much rather hang out with friends or do their own thing. I asked her how she was coping and what she was planning to do now that she has so much extra time to herself.
Surprisingly, she happily said that she was enjoying doing her own thing, which included giving her business more attention, hanging out with friends, and doing more at her church. We talked about how important it is to have something to do when your children move on.
Every mother can relate to how much children give your life a sense of purpose. Your days are filled with figuring out everything happening in their lives. From what they’re going to eat and wear, to driving them to and from school and extracurricular activities, and ensuring their safety and wellbeing, you barely have time to breath let alone pay any attention to yourself.
It’s no surprise that many women find themselves lost when their children start to declare their independence, head off to college or move out once they can fend for themselves.
Some may have decided to put off their dreams or passions for a time when their kids are grown up. Others may even have put their friendships on hold while they tended to their children.
The downside of putting off your desires is that there’s never a good time to get them done. Truth is, by the time your children leave, you might not have the courage, energy or know how to do it and your friends may have moved on with other relationships.
Which begs the question: can a woman nurture her children and have a life of her own too without any guilt? We say a resounding yes!) It might not be easy to achieve but in life, nothing worth anything is ever simple. With a little creativity, flexibility, and resolve, you can do it.
Here are 5 reasons why you should have a life outside of your children:
1. Gives you a sense of purpose
The things that you love to do will fill the void left when your children move on and you become an empty nester and it will be easier to let go.
2. Makes you a better person
It’s easier to nurture others when your cup is full. It makes you a better parent, spouse, partner, sibling, daughter, friend or any other role you play in your life.
You might be surprised to know that your children notice when you’re not at your best. And if you’ve allowed your children to be transparent and honest with you, they’ll let you know. A few years back, my little one casually asked me, “are you going to yoga mama?” She had recognized that whenever I did my yoga, I was calmer, more patient, and overall a nicer person to be around. Her question was a subtle cue for me to fix it with something she knew works for me.
3. Maintain your most important friendships
Great friends are hard to come by so nurture those relationships that matter most to you. You’ll need them when your children leave. Oh, and it doesn’t mean that you have to spend a tremendous amount of time with them either (who can?) It means keeping your lines of communication open, sharing your important life events, visiting with each other once in a while, and being there when they need you. Great friends get this!
4. Boosts your health and wellbeing
Curving out time for yourself to do the things you love is good for you. It enhances your morale, motivates you, and keeps you emotionally balanced. Whether it’s dedicating your time for a hobby, spending time with your girls, indulging in your favorite treat or spoiling yourself to the spa, you’re sure to rejuvenate your spirit and to tackle your life head-on. No matter what I may be going through, going to my dance classes clears my mind, makes me smile, gives me a new and positive perspective, and most importantly, the courage and fuel I need to handle my hectic and sometimes challenging life.
5. Gives your kids peace of mind and a sense of comfort
Your children love you and want you to be happy, especially when they’re gone. You make it easier for them to move on happily with their lives if they know you’re going to be okay. And isn’t that what we want for your kids?
It’s inevitable that your children will grow up and carve out a life for themselves and away from you. Be prepared for it. As a mom, there’s no better sense of accomplishment than to see your kids be successful. It’s a reminder that all your hard work nurturing, steering, worrying, and doing everything possible to ensure that they thrive was worth it. And remember:
“You can’t run alongside your grown children with sunscreen and ChapStick on their hero’s journey. You have to release them. It’s disrespectful not to.” – Anne Lamott
It’s also your time to take reclaim your life and to focus on the things that you love to do the most because you’re deserving. You’ve done your job and done it well. Give yourself what you need to enter the next phase of your life gracefully.
Hey gapmuse moms, what are some of the things you do to nurture yourself? Share with us and our readers so we too can be inspired.
Here’s to a successful school year.