An Empty Nest Means You’ve Done it Right!


Whether they’re off to university or to their first day of school, your feelings are real and life as you knew it has changed. You may not realize it now, but it’s a good thing. Really! (CJN column Oct 2, 2015)

Dear Ella,

A few weeks ago, my husband and I drove our son to McGill University in Montreal. On our drive home, we discussed how happy we were to have finally reached a stage where both boys are in university.

Now that it has sunk in and my husband is off to work every day, I am finding myself moping around, constantly depressed. The house is too quiet. When I open the front door, there is no one playing guitar, no music blaring, no mess, no negotiations about the car, and no one expecting dinner. I never thought I would feel so empty. 

I’m very happy for both my sons, but this empty nester thing is truly for the birds. How am I going to move on from feeling so lost and not needed?


Sadly Alone at Last

Dear Sadly Alone at Last

Having your last child leave home opens up a whole barrage of emotions. Everything from joy, relief and well-deserved pride for having done a great job as a parent, to sadness, worry and loneliness. You have entered a new stage in your life, and you need to allow yourself time to adjust. This is also a new phase as a parent, as a wife and as an individual.

You’ve raised your boys with the hopes of getting them to this milestone. You’ve given them the tools they need to become productive, self-sufficient adults, and now it’s time to let go and let them put all the life skills you have instilled to work.

You probably put your family’s needs above your own, and it will take time and action to re-adjust that thought process and fill the void with things that continue to make you feel fulfilled. You could volunteer, go back to work, take some courses, join a book club, travel, join a health club, revive or start a hobby, go out on dates with your husband, get a dog, take up golf – the list is endless.

Remember: your boys are not gone for good, and believe me, they still need you and always will. Allow yourself time to make this new adjustment.

Try to plan your week in advance. In the beginning, you might be lunching a lot with friends you never had time for in the past, but eventually you will want to remake yourself and find the new right fit. 

Remember that your sons are always accessible. You can reach out by phone, text, FaceTime, Facebook or even visits. You’ve done a wonderful job as a parent, now it’s your turn, embrace this new transition.

Dear Ella,

I have three children, 9, 6 and 4. My baby started all-day junior kindergarten this week. My full-time job as a mom has abruptly come to an end. 

Usually, when the bus picks up the older boys, my daughter and I begin our full day of activities, but when I waved good-bye to her this morning, my heart sank down to the pit of my stomach. I spent so much time preparing her for this moment, but I never thought about what it would do to me.

I jumped in my car and chased the bus, only to find her getting off at the other end seeming quite content. She wasn’t in tears, but I was! I cried all the way home. I should be happy, not miserable.


Baby in School

Dear Baby in School

Relinquishing the care of your last baby to someone else, a virtual stranger, is certainly traumatic, and there is no reason to trivialize it. However, your job as a full-time mom has not abruptly come to an end, it has simply changed. 

You just went from being needed every waking moment to an empty house for a few hours with time for your own thoughts and the luxury of making your own schedule without a kid hanging off of you. Your feelings are real and natural, and you have to allow yourself the time to work through them – time to grieve your old routine so you can create a new one that’s just as productive.

You’ve done a great job as a mom in the last nine years raising your little miracles to go into the world. Although it’s a difficult change for you, it’s also a good one. Time to add another layer to your already accomplished, full life.

But remember: you only have a few hours until that school bus arrives and your house is full of kids once again, all shouting mommy and needing you like they were never gone.