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Are you a single empty nester feeling lost in the quiet of your once bustling home? You’re not alone. Being an empty nester in and of itself is hard, but when you’re a single parent? It’s exceptionally difficult! Transitioning into this new phase of life can be daunting but fear not – let’s explore some helpful strategies to help you combat loneliness and reclaim your sense of purpose. From cultivating new hobbies to strengthening your support system, let’s talk about overcoming loneliness as a single empty nester.

Learning to Be Alone as a Single Empty Nester

One way to combat loneliness as a single empty nester is to cultivate new hobbies and interests. Finding activities that bring you joy, and fulfillment can help fill the void left by your children moving out. Whether it’s learning a new skill, joining a club, or volunteering in your community, immersing yourself in new experiences can introduce you to like-minded individuals and provide a sense of purpose.

As for me, I went back to studying Japanese as of January 2020 and have continued to have lessons with my tutor online ever since. I love it. It is entirely for me and has nothing to do with work, etc. I also have done online mat Pilates with a group of women since March of 2020. Again, entirely for me, and in this case part of my self-care routine.

empty nester quote a mothers job

Have a Support System in Place

To further enhance your sense of connection and support, building a strong network of friends and loved ones is essential. Surrounding yourself with positive, caring individuals who understand your situation, you can find comfort, encouragement, and companionship during this transitional period of your life. Strengthening your support system can help combat feelings of isolation and provide a sense of belonging in your new chapter as a single empty nester. This support system can also offer valuable perspectives and advice as you navigate this new phase of life, helping you to focus on self-care and personal growth. I have many friends who are empty nesters too and we share how we deal with it all together.

Focus on self-care and personal growth

In addition to building a strong support system, it’s important for single empty nesters to focus on self-care and personal growth. This time of transition presents a unique opportunity to prioritize your own well-being and development. Take the time to engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment, whether it’s pursuing a hobby you’ve always been interested in, practicing mindfulness and meditation, or investing in your physical health through exercise and proper nutrition.

By focusing on self-care, you’ll not only improve your overall well-being but also rediscover a sense of purpose and satisfaction in your life. It’s also a great way to relieve stress.

Do you have a bucket list of all the things you wanted to do post-kids? Bust it out and start using it! And if you don’t, start one.

Explore new social opportunities

This intentional focus on self-care and personal growth sets the foundation for the next step in your journey as a single empty nester: exploring new social opportunities. As you prioritize your own well-being and development, you may find yourself more open to meeting new people and trying out different social activities. This could involve joining clubs or groups that align with your interests, volunteering in your community, or attending local events and gatherings. By stepping outside of your comfort zone and engaging with others, you can expand your social circle and potentially form new meaningful connections that bring joy and companionship into your life. Set meaningful goals and priorities to continue this positive momentum in your journey towards overcoming loneliness and rediscovering purpose.

Look on the Bright Side as an Empty Nester

As you continue to embrace new social opportunities and connect with others who share your interests, it’s important to look at the bright side to being a single empty nester. One of the great opportunities now available to you is that you have time to set new meaningful goals! You can also re-evaluate your priorities to guide your journey towards overcoming loneliness and rediscovering purpose. By defining what matters most to you and establishing clear objectives, you can stay focused and motivated in moving forward. Whether it’s committing to a regular volunteering schedule, pursuing a hobby you’ve always wanted to try, or dedicating time to self-improvement, having specific goals in mind can provide a sense of direction and fulfillment and provide some needed structure into your daily life.

For me, having something to look forward to has really helped. I have an upcoming trip with a friend to explore a new local area, and plan to go back East later this year to see another friend.

This sense of purpose and intentionality can also extend to the next step in your transformation as a single empty nester: seeking comfort and companionship from pets.

Pets for comfort

Pets have a special way of filling the void left by an empty nest, providing unconditional love, companionship, and a sense of routine. Whether it’s a loyal dog wagging its tail in excitement at your return or a cuddly cat purring on your lap, pets can offer solace and emotional support during times of loneliness. As you open your heart and home to a furry friend, you may find that their presence brings joy and comfort amid solitude. Embracing the company of a pet can help alleviate feelings of isolation and provide a welcome distraction from the quietude that often accompanies an empty nest, fostering a sense of connection and purpose in your daily life.

My daughter’s childhood pet dog, now an elder at 14-1/2 years, is a great companion and the best listener in the world! He also keeps me active with daily walks.

How to Deal with Silence in the House as an Empty Nester

Loneliness and silence in the house can be overwhelming for single empty nesters, amplifying feelings of isolation and solitude. The quiet can be deafening, and the emptiness profound. It’s during these moments that the presence of a pet can make all the difference, filling the space with their warmth and companionship. As you navigate this new chapter of life, embracing the company of a furry friend can provide a sense of comfort and purpose during the stillness.

How do I combat the silence? I listen to audible books (when walking our dog) or music when I am cooking.

By forming this special bond with a pet, you may find that their presence brings joy and solace, easing the transition into this next phase of life. As you open your heart and home to a furry companion, you can begin to cultivate a sense of connection and purpose in your daily routine, setting the stage for a different relationship with your adult children.

surviving empty nesting being alone

Remember You’re Still Needed

The biggest thing that parents may struggle with is believing that their job is done or that they are no longer needed in their child’s life. We will always be their parents, it’s just different. Even when your kids are out of the house, they still need you. The biggest lesson I learned is I can’t tell my daughter what to do but can only offer suggestions if she is open to them, and if not, to keep my thoughts to myself! I continue to hold a safe space for her to vent, to grow and to offer my support and suggestions but only if she wants them!

So, rather than assuming your role is complete, recognize that you still have a lot of parenting left to do. Stay connected with your young adult and look for ways to support them in their many adventures and personal growth.

For example, recently I helped my daughter file her taxes online! She’s also coming home soon for dental surgery so I can care for her, and she can be with her dog for emotional support. Being a trained professional chef, she often asks me for recipe suggestions, how to shop economically, and requests video cooking lessons frequently too. We share photos of what we have cooked and or what we ate at restaurants. These are other ways of connecting and bonding.  Letting go of any of your expectations on how communication should be and just having fun and enjoying them is key.

New relationship with adult children

As you navigate this new chapter of life with your furry companion by your side, you may find that the bonds of love and connection extend beyond just your pet. Embracing this new relationship with your adult children can provide a renewed sense of purpose and closeness, bridging the gap of physical distance and fostering a deeper understanding of each other’s lives. By keeping open lines of communication and actively engaging with your adult children, you can strengthen your connection and create meaningful moments that transcend the miles between you. This rekindled relationship can bring added joy and fulfillment to your life, enriching your newfound sense of purpose as you embrace this next phase with open arms.

Taking trips to visit them and or them coming home, video chats, Facetime, phone calls, and texts also foster connectiveness and regular communication. I have sent a photo and or video to my daughter of our dog daily ever since she went off to college and continue to this day. She has a whole group of friends, who can’t wait to see the latest photo! My daughter and I are also planning a trip in the fall together and both of us are looking forward to it. This time, my daughter is picking out the location and what to do. We are also planning a larger trip overseas in the future.

As you continue to nurture these relationships, remember that connecting with your adult children can be a source of comfort and validation in this new chapter of your life, that is just as important to them as to you. Keep communication open all the time.

Focus on the positives

It’s worth repeating – Take time to regularly think about the positive aspects of this new stage. That seems to get lost especially in the early phase of empty nesting. Appreciate a quieter house or more time to do the things you love or had wanted to do for years. Also allow yourself time to celebrate how proud you are of your children. Allow yourself to feel sadness too. Going off to college or starting their first post-college job are incredible milestones, and if they’re out there doing it on their own, it’s because you’ve done a wonderful job. Celebrate this. Well done!

Not all single empty nesters suffer from empty nest syndrome

While many parents (single or otherwise) may experience empty nest syndrome, many also experience a renewed sense of purpose when their children leave. A child’s transition to adulthood is not always painful for the parents. Parenting is exhausting, time-consuming work, especially for us singles. Let’s face it, we sacrificed a lot to be parents. But I wouldn’t have traded it for anything in the world and raising my daughter continues to be the biggest gift in my life.

Savor the chance to sleep in or not be woken up in the middle of the night, enjoy having more free unstructured time, pursuing new relationships, and reconnecting and developing an identity entirely separate from parenting. Don’t forget to regularly schedule fun.

Many parents report feelings of pride and joy as their children transition to adulthood. Oftentimes the parent-child relationship improves when a child moves out, since the parent can begin to nurture a friendship with the child and connect to their child on a deeper level. That has certainly been true for us. We have become each other’s biggest cheerleaders and I revel in hearing about how she is navigating her life; the good, the bad and the ugly.

Seek professional help if needed

Talking through your emotions with a therapist or a life coach can make a big difference, especially if you’re just beginning your journey as a single empty nester. Professionals (such as myself) can work with you to develop a new sense of identity outside of being a parent. You can work to identify any self-defeating and or self-limiting beliefs and thoughts to reduce the risk of sadness and depression, and work toward a deeper understanding of yourself outside your role as a parent. What often gets forgotten is seeing this as a positive opportunity for personal growth not only for your child but more importantly for yourself.

In conclusion, single empty nesters can overcome loneliness and rediscover purpose by cultivating new hobbies, building a strong support system, focusing on self-care, exploring social opportunities, and setting meaningful goals. By embracing these strategies, you can create a fulfilling and happy life.

Remember, it’s never too late to find joy and fulfillment in this new chapter of your life. As author C.S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.”