8 First Moves to Overcome the Empty Nest Blues

The holidays are a time of separation anxiety for parents watching their children head off with their friends and respective others to celebrate. Sure, there's less laundry, fewer dirty dishes and no more heavy metal blasting at 5 AM. Yet, when you've raised your kids through chicken pox, home alone during the holiday season may seem empty without small reminders of your child's presence.

For the 25 million single baby boomers who've already suffered through a divorce, separation, or death, watching your children head out on their own can be devastating. Linda, a 54-year-old finance director equates her last child leaving home to the feeling she had when she and her husband split. "I know I should be happy to see my children doing well, but I'm having a hard time adjusting to being by myself. I took care of my family for years but with Glen away at school this season, there's nothing left for me to do." The good news is that as lonely as it may feel initially, now is the perfect time to reinvent yourself and meet someone new. Here are eight first moves that can increase your odds of finding a partner while easing the empty nest blues:

1) Allow yourself time to feel sad. It's okay to have these emotions but also remember raising children is about helping them to be independent individuals. Join a local support group if you're really having a tough time. Sometimes it helps to talk to like-minded people.

2) Take time for yourself. Sign up for a class in Italian cooking, tennis, tap dance, or strumming the Spanish guitar. Volunteer for your favorite charity. Make a wish list of the things you always wanted to do like skydiving or belly dancing but you didn't have the time to do while raising children.

3) Renovate and decorate. With a home all to yourself, what better time to repaint those walls, change the curtains and buy some new paintings. Now is not the time to consider buying or moving. It usually takes a year or so to adjust to being an empty nester but sprucing it up will make it feel new again.

4) Grab food with friends. The kids had you so busy escorting them to ice skating lessons and rugby practice that you weren't able to find time to try the new Thai restaurant that opened up around the corner. Make plans to get together with old friends for coffee, brunch or dinner weekly.

5) Talk to your empty-nester friends or have them connect you with people they know. Many single parents are going through the same experience and feel the same emotions as you do. Meet them and regain your life back.

6) Join your kids by going back to school (of course, not the same school). Get the degree you've always wanted or get a second one. Do it now while your children are studying. With so much workforce competition, it's good to stay fresh and modernize your professional skills.

7) Begin an exercise program. Releasing endorphins can help you get over those bad feelings. Whether it be a running group, the local gym or Pilates class, you'll not only feel good, you'll look good too.

8) Start dating. Join an online dating service like SeniorPeopleMeet.com or tell anyone who will listen that you're interested in meeting someone. Whether you find your new partner through friends, in class or at the hardware store, embrace the chance to bring romance back into your life. After all, you finally have the house all to yourself.

Lori Bizzoco is a writer, journalist and blogger living in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently working on her memoir-in-progress, Single to Baby.

By Lori Bizzoco for OurTime.com


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