Overcoming the challenges of empty nesting and divorce

Humble houseplants that filter air

houseplants that filter airWe know the value of bringing plants into a home to add color and life. What we may not realize is how important it is to choose houseplants that filter air. Apart from being attractive and helping to bring a bit of the outdoors inside, they filter out harmful chemicals found in the air.

NASA conducted a clean air study in 1989 because they wanted to find ways to clean air in space stations. As a result of this research, they compiled a list of air-filtering plants.  These plants do not just absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen but also eliminate certain harmful chemicals from the air. (more…)

Does exercise help your brain?

exercise and your brainYou know that exercise is good for your body but does exercise help your brain? You can see the results of exercise on your body. Your muscles are stronger and more toned. Few of us consider the benefits of exercise on our brains because we can’t physically see the improvement.

Many studies over the years have shown that physical exercise, especially aerobic exercise, has positive effects on brain function. Your brain is a tissue and, like any other tissue, it deteriorates with age. When you exercise, your blood begins to pump and this increases the flow of oxygen and glucose to the brain. The increased flow results in better brain performance. (more…)

My 5 favorite Bible verses for fear

Violence, crime, terrorism, unemployment, economic uncertainty, disease – we have an endless list of potential reasons to be fearful. However, we cannot spend our lives controlled by fear.  One of our deepest fears often relates to our families and our children. When our children are fully grown and about to leave home, we fear for their future.  We are no longer able to protect them as much.  We have to allow them to make mistakes and grow into independent human beings.  It is often difficult to watch this process without feeling some fear.  Here are five of my favorite Bible verses for dealing with fear. (more…)

A free eye exam online does not replace an in-person eye exam

online eye testAn eye test reveals much more about your health than just the state of your vision. Many websites today give you the option of testing online  for nearsightedness, distance vision and even for age-related macular degeneration. However, an online eye vision test does not replace going for regular eye tests at an optometrist. It is very important to have your eyes tested at least every two years by an optometrist, particularly as you grow older.

When my children noticed that my head was practically hitting my computer screen in my attempts to see, they urged me to go and have an eye test. I realized that it had been about five years since my previous test. Lack of time and the cost of an appointment are just some factors that prevent people from getting regular check-ups. Online eye tests are convenient and may be free but they do not replace comprehensive, in-person eye tests. (more…)

How to be happy living alone

living alone

When you discover how to be happy living alone, it can be immensely liberating. If you live alone because you have no other option, you can choose to delight in the many advantages or you can bemoan your fate. Many people manage to live alone without being lonely. Of course, when you live alone, you are more susceptible to feelings of loneliness but it is important to remember that even in a crowd, it is possible to be lonely.

I have lived with others all my life and so living alone is a novel experience for me. I find that loneliness does tend  to nip at my heels, especially on holidays. However, I have had to learn to keep it at bay. Here are some ways to make you feel happy instead of lonely.

Let the light in

let light inThis may sound insignificant but I have found that when you live alone it is vital to keep as much contact with the outside world as possible. Open your curtains wide in the morning and let the light stream in. See it as a symbolic gesture, removing the barrier that prevents you from seeing out and others from seeing in. It also helps to take a quick walk around your neighborhood early in the morning, greeting any neighbors who are out and about. This immediately eliminates feelings of being isolated and shut off from the rest of humanity.

Daily rituals

When it comes to your daily activities, revel in what living alone allows you to do.  Put on your favorite music and dance to it. Eat straight out of the peanut butter jar if it takes you back to your childhood and makes you happy.  Read late into the night or take a long relaxing bath.

Drinking tea is one of my daily rituals and I now take the time to sit down and enjoy it. I no longer leave it to sit on my desk until it’s cold or gulp it down as I rush out of the door to fetch a child.

In the evening, I have the TV remote to myself. It’s funny how just the fact that I can watch any program makes me far more selective and many times I prefer to go to bed and read.  The height of indulgence for me is to climb into bed  at 9pm and to read late into the night.

My family hated it when I became involved in one of my DIY projects. On one occasion I spent days sanding down a table and chairs and painting them with chalk paint. For about a week they breathed in sawdust and had to eat takeaways. Now, I can work on my latest project in peace without inconveniencing anyone else.

Know your triggers

You may find that you hate that feeling of walking in the front door with no-one to greet you. What’s worse than walking into an empty house is to walk into a dark, empty house. Remember to leave a light on when you go out at night.  Owning a pet that greets you with great enthusiasm when you arrive home is a big advantage when you live alone. Think about getting a pet if you don’t already have one as it can help to combat loneliness.

Make your space pleasing to you

Now that there’s no-one else to disapprove, you can decorate and organize your home to suit your own preferences. Think about creating a comfortable, welcoming environment around you. Express your individuality and surround yourself with items that give you pleasure. Try to get rid of any clutter and keep only what you really need to create a calming environment.

Your kitchen
Having an overstocked, cluttered kitchen is unnecessary when you live alone and it just means more time spent cleaningWeed out all the unnecessary crockery and cutlery. Use good storage solutions and organize your kitchen to suit cooking for one and eating on your own.

Your bathroom
luxury towels

Enjoy the luxury of having your bathroom entirely to yourself. Spoil yourself with a couple of really, large, fluffy towels and make sure you have some scented candles. (Click on the images if you wish to purchase these items)

Your lounge
A comfy sofa is a must and a luxurious throw to use when you watch TV adds that little bit of extra comfort. Use plants and fresh flowers to add some life and color to the room. If you don’t want to keep purchasing fresh flowers, use the best quality silk flowers.

 

Your bedroom

bedroomTurn your bedroom into a real sanctuary with quality bedding and plenty of pillows. Make sure you have good lighting for reading in bed. A full-length mirror in your bedroom is helpful if you live alone. No-one else is there to tell you that you have a stray curler in your hair! Cupboard space can be maximized with special storage solutions so that all your clothes and accessories are well organized and easy to find. Choose a color for the walls that you find most calming and relaxing. I love turquoise, so my bedroom is white and turquoise.

 Get out of your comfort zones

Take up a new hobby or learn a new skill. Don’t fall into a rut or spend too much time watching TV. Think about how to challenge yourself. It’s your time and your future. Start writing a book, think about places you would like to see and classes you might enjoy.

Go out and meet people

Create structured ways to leave your house and interact with other people. Choose times at which you may feel most alone such as when your children used to come home from school.  Identify groups that you might enjoy and where you are likely to meet people who may become close friends. Join a book club if you are a reader or a walking club if you love outdoor activities.

Entertain

Inviting people into your home helps to bring in laughter and life. Don’t avoid entertaining because you think you have to do it in a formal way. Have a girl’s night where you watch movies or play games. Invite a neighbor around for tea. Healthy interaction with friends is essential, so make some effort to reach out to others, even when you do not feel like it. Yes, it may not be that easy, but it is worthwhile. Read this post I wrote about the negative impact of loneliness on your health.

Conclusion

You need to be able to be happy alone. If you are too dependent on someone else for your happiness, it is in jeopardy when they are no longer around. One of the best ways to discover more about yourself  is to spend some time alone. It can be very revealing. At first, you may find that you don’t like who you are and you may have to work on building your self-esteem.  It’s worth it because the feeling of being comfortable in your own skin is priceless. No-one can take that away from you and it means that you do not feel threatened by others. You can  enjoy an abundant life, being exactly who you are meant to be.

Caring for gray hair – do it the right way for a vibrant, healthy look

Older women today are rocking their gray locks, unlike many women of previous generations who did their best to cover up.  Stars like Emmylou Harris and Helen Mirren look anything but dowdy or old. They are ‘silver foxes’ whose sex appeal is unaffected by their hair color. Perhaps we can’t all look like them but many of us are finding the courage to go gray and we won’t ever use dye again.

What happens to hair as you age?

The process of going gray is determined largely by genetics.  It’s encoded in your DNA whether you will go gray earlier rather than later. “Fifty percent of the population has about 50% gray hair at age 50,” says Dr. Anthony Oro, professor of dermatology at Stanford University.

Melanin is what gives hair its color. We have about 100,000 follicles on our heads and as we grow older, these follicles stop producing melanin.  This occurs at different rates in different follicles. For some people it occurs very quickly, while in others it happens slowly over many years. My hair started turning gray in my early 30s.

Without the melanin, hair is more brittle, dry and likely to frizz. It is also more likely to turn yellow. Going gray does not mean that caring for your hair is any less important. In fact, without the proper care, your gray hair is likely to make you look frowsy or frumpy, rather than elegant and stylish.

The right attitude

Going gray, Looking GreatWe tend to grow up with the idea that we need to keep coloring our hair to fight off ageing. This means that many of us endure decades of the mess and expense, not to mention that all that dyeing cannot be healthy.  I would develop a white stripe about two weeks after dyeing it, so it only looked good for two weeks and the rest of the time before I could dye it again, it was less than perfect. It also tended to look as though it was thinning on top, due to the contrast between my white hair growing out and the brown dye. When someone tried to commiserate with me about the fact that I was balding, I decided it was high time to go gray.

I went online and found a number of websites supporting women who are setting out on the journey to going gray. Looking at hundreds of before and after photos was enlightening too, as many of the women looked better with their gray hair than they looked before. I read a book by Diana Lewis Jewell called Going Gray, Looking Great. Diana has become known as ‘the guru of gray’. Reading the stories of many other women who had taken the plunge was inspiring.

The in-between phase

Once you have made the decision to go gray, the in-between phase is the most difficult to navigate. Some women are brave enough to shave off all their hair. Others go for a more gradual transition and hairdressers can use many tricks like highlights or lowlights to help survive this stage. For a while I walked around with hair of various shades until the color had all grown out. It did not take too long because my hair grows quickly. I was surprised to discover that my hair was snow white under all the dye.

The right cut

One of the biggest favors you can do yourself when you are gray, is to have the right haircut. The right cut can instantly make the difference between old and dowdy or youthful and vibrant. Initially, I opted for growing my hair because I saw all these gorgeous photos of older women with long hair.  I discovered the hard way that some women carry it off very well but I wasn’t one of them. I was convinced by my sister to chop it off and went for a graded bob.

As gray hair is more frizzy, a heavily layered cut can be problematic. A collarbone length bob, like the one worn by Diane Keaton, works for most hair types. Another favorite is a pixie cut, worn so well by Jaime Lee Curtis. Any modern short style usually works well.

It is important to have your hair trimmed every 6-8 weeks, especially when it is gray, as it can quickly become unruly.

The Right Products

Your gray hair is drier, coarser and more wiry and so you will need to change your hair products.

A shampoo that boosts shine

A shampoo that boosts shine and hydrates the hair with keep gray hair from looking dull.

A frizz controlling conditioner

A great conditioner will keep frizz under control, making hair sleeker and easier to manage. Keeping your gray hair moisturised is very important because it has less of a protective cuticle so strands can break more easily.

An alcohol free styling spray

This will give your hair a sheen and control any frizz. An alcohol-heavy spray will make hair dry. If a spray contains vitamin B5 so much the better because this helps build hair structure. The Alba Botanica Strong Hold Gel is alcohol free.
Alba Botanic shampoo

A shampoo that neutralizes yellow

A silver shampoo specially formulated for gray hair will help to offset any yellowing.  Read here about the best shampoo for gray hair.

5 Tips for Caring for Gray Hair

  1. Stay away from heat and perms as far as possible. You don’t need to aggravate dryness.
  2. Did you know that there are sunscreens specially formulated for hair?  Try Miss Oops Block Your Locks.
  3. When using a toner shampoo, be careful about how long you leave it in or you may just end up with blue hair. Start gradually with less time, adding more time if necessary.
  4. Cigarette smoke will turn your hair yellow, so try to avoid it where possible.
  5. Be careful to use conditioner before swimming as gray hair will absorb pool chemicals easily.

What do you feel about your gray hair and what products do you find work best?

Easily tap subconscious mind power

The book Mind Power into the 21st century,  is a number one bestseller. I think this is because today people know so much more about the mind and are looking for ways to easily tap subconscious mind power.  John Kehoe reveals the role our minds plconcentrated mind poweray in constructing reality, meaning that we can choose to live more creatively and powerfully. He describes how we live simultaneously in two worlds, an inner one of thoughts, emotions and attitudes and an outer one of people, places, things and events. A major part of who we are lies within our inner world  and so we have to learn how to pay attention to our thoughts and develop a new consciousness. This is the only way to change our reality.

Consciousness

Kehoe believes that the more a thought is repeated, the more energy and power it generates and illustrates this with the image of a magnifying glass. If it is moved about from spot to spot, the rays are diffused but if it is focused, the rays are concentrated and are powerful enough to start a fire.   (more…)

How an empty nest and divorce has changed my life

divorce after empty nestIf anyone had told me I would be facing an empty nest and divorce together one day, I would not have believed them. The idea of divorce was never on my radar – I may have made threats once or twice over the years but that’s all they were –  carelessly spoken threats that I never thought would become a reality. My mother and father were very happily married for over 50 years.  I now have the dubious distinction of being the first person to get divorced in the family. As my divorce came after 32 years of marriage and at the same time as my youngest child left the nest, I was forced to dig down really deep, have faith and use all my reserves to survive the transition. So much for slowly evolving into the empty nest phase – I was brutally thrust into it and it was a case of sink or swim.  (more…)

How to downsize your home: 20 helpful tips

downsize your homeWhen you have finally made the decision to downsize your home, it may be daunting to face the prospect of preparing for the move. Some couples have accumulated possessions over many years and they do not know where to begin. It is often difficult to part with items, even though they may no longer serve any useful purpose.

Psychologically, this process can be tough. It is hard to leave the home which holds so many memories and in which your children grew up. Some people are so attached to their homes for sentimental reasons that they simply refuse to move. This can put a great deal of stress on their children later on when their parents are becoming frail. People who proactively make the decision to downsize, often wonder why they waited so long. There are many advantages to be experienced when living in a smaller home.

It does require a shift in attitude and that is why I think it is so important to have the right mindset when contemplating such a move. (more…)

Do you have unhealthy mother-son relationships?

mother-son relationship

The relationship between a mother and son is a complex one. While a son is growing up and learning independence, a mother’s loving support and nurturing is essential.  However, there are circumstances in which the mother-son relationship becomes distorted and when this happens it can leave destruction in its path. An unhealthy mother-son relationship can cripple both parties and affect all their other relationships.

Mama’s Boy

When a son has always relied on his mother to make all his decisions for him, it is difficult for him to break out of this pattern. An adult son should not need his mother’s input before making decisions.  If his mother is still his number one priority, even when he has a partner, this is a sign that the relationship may not be healthy.  He may constantly feel guilty when he does not contact his mother and yet feel resentful because of her expectations. Resentment easily turns to guilt and the vicious cycle starts again.

Kate Stone Lombardi, author of The Mama’s Boy Myth: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes them Stronger, believes that a close bond between a mother and son is vitally important. She believes that society has certain misconceptions about mother-son relationships that go back to Freud’s Oedipus complex theory. The idea that sons have an unconscious desire to sleep with their mothers has had the effect of making a close bond between them seem somehow wrong. Her belief is that mothers help their sons to communicate better, and recognize and express their feelings. This equips them better for their future relationships.

There is a line, however, between being close and being too close. Some mothers and sons go over that line.

Overprotective mother

Why is it that mothers have such a hard time letting go of their sons? The bond is a strong one and when a boy is growing up, it is good for his mother to be there for him and provide a secure base from which he can explore and develop. A mother is fiercely protective of her children and so she should be. It’s when she becomes overprotective that it becomes unhealthy for the child.

In a book called ‘The Slap’ by Christos Tsiolkas, we meet Rosie, mother of five-year-old Hugo. Hugo is still being breastfed and when he’s not at his mother’s breast, he is misbehaving without being reprimanded. Rosie has taken her mothering to an extreme that is unhealthy for the child and for her.

A substitute for a spouse

In certain situations, a mother may substitute a relationship with her husband for one with her son. Perhaps her husband has left her or he may have passed away. He may be abusing her or not giving her the type of emotional support she needs. It’s not impossible under such circumstances for a mother to turn to her son.  Ashley McIlwain, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist says “Parents, your child is NOT a substitute for a spouse who’s not measuring up. While it’s wonderful for you to raise your child to be an amazing husband or wife, it shouldn’t be for you. They are not meant to be manipulated into your own personal feel-good piggy bank where you make withdrawals whenever you’re feeling poorly yourself.”
Ross Rosenberg, author of the book The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us, talks about enmeshed parent-child relationships. This is where parents and children rely on one another to fulfill emotional needs.  Ross says that they look to one another  “to make them feel good, whole or healthy, but they do it in a way that sacrifices psychological health … their self-concept is defined by the other person.” Their individuality is lost in the process of getting their needs met.

Silently SeducedSometimes this goes so far that it becomes a sexual relationship. Dr Adams, a clinical psychologist who has had over 25 years of practical experience in this area, has written a book called Silently Seduced: When Parents Make Their Children Partners  that offers tools for identifying and healing from covert incestuous relationships. He explains how ‘feeling close’ with a parent is not always the source of comfort the phrase suggests, especially when that child is cheated out of a childhood by being a parent’s surrogate partner. Some of the questions asked in a Q&A section in the book are:
• How can this be incestuous when there is no physical sexual contact?
• Why is sexual addiction so common with covert incest survivors?
• Why is it so hard for covert incest survivors to commit to romantic relationships?
• If my partner is a covert incest survivor, how can I help?

A challenge to a marriage

A son with an unhealthy attachment to his mother struggles to detach and set boundaries, even when he is married.  His mother can come between him and his wife who may feel that she constantly has to compete with her. In  ‘The Slap’  Hector, the main character,  is turning 40 and he still has difficulty standing up to his controlling mother. His wife, Aisha, has to bear the consequences.  His mother presents him with a birthday present of tickets to Greece for the whole family, including her and her husband. On the surface, this would appear to be a wonderful gift. However, it is actually an example of a mother’s interference. Aisha is not happy because she and Hector have planned to go away together to Bali for their anniversary and she has been looking forward to it. She insists that his mother knew exactly what she was doing in giving this gift. Making plans that include a son, without discussing it with him first, is a no-no. A son should never be put in a position where he has to choose between his wife and his mother.

For women who feel they are in an emotional tug-of-war for their husband’s heart, a book by Dr Kenneth Adams called When He’s Married to Mom is helpful. This book offers guidelines to help women create fulfilling relationships with mother-enmeshed men. He also offers tools to help these mother-enmeshed men as well as strategies to help parents avoid enmeshing their children.

Acknowledging the problem

Acknowledging the problem is often the first step towards healing.  Fortunately, it has become more acceptable today for men to acknowledge relationship issues and deal with them by talking to a therapist. If they are not ready to talk to a therapist, there are other ways to go about getting some help such as joining a forum or asking questions.  Eventually, this may pave the way to more formal therapy. A relationship consists of two people and it may be difficult to heal an unhealthy relationship if one or other is not prepared to work at it.

Establishing boundaries

Unhealthy relationships occur when boundaries are violated. If both parties are aware of the problem, they can begin addressing the problem and start setting some boundaries. Its easier to take small steps at first.

Perhaps a son has just gone off to college and his mother expects him to call him every day. Instead of reacting and telling her to back off, he could say “Mom, I know you love me and I also want to talk to you but I think we should talk twice a week. Then, I can really focus when you call and tell you about everything that happened in the week.”

If a son is always calling  his mother to help make decisions for him, perhaps she could say something like “I appreciate the fact that you respect my advice but I have every confidence in you. I know that you will make the right decision about …”

A final word

We all make mistakes when bringing up our children. When it comes to our sons, it appears that close is good but too close is bad. Many of us may find that we tend to be overprotective. But, If we love them enough, it’s never too late to make some on course corrections. As mothers, our sons should never be the source of our emotional fulfillment. But we should have a close enough bond to help  them develop the emotional intelligence they will need to establish their own meaningful relationships.

15 inspirational quotes for Empty Nesters

Here are 15 inspirational quotes for empty nesters to help them let go, move on and embrace the new phase in their lives. Our constant involvement in our children’s lives is what helps us to do our parenting job well when they are small.  However, as they grow older and develop more independence,  we have to start letting go.  Navigating this transition as our children gradually learn independence can be tricky. However,  holding on too tight when they are fully grown is a mistake.  Letting go is essential if we want to maintain healthy relationships with them.

letting go quotequotes for empty nesterswise parentquote Melissa Marr

 

quote about balancelet go quote

 

moving on quotekeep balance quotequote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carl Jung quoteBible quotequote Joyce Maynard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goethe quotequote H. Jackson Brownquote Wayne Dyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember that you are exactly where you need to be, so embrace the new phase you are facing. Don’t be afraid to face your fears and lean into the future. I know that I never want to make my children feel guilty for living their own lives. I don’t ever want them to relate to me because they feel that they should.  Life consists of a series of natural changes and if you keep moving forward, you will find freedom and perhaps make discoveries about yourself in the process that may just surprise you.

 

 

Think before you make that call

keep contact with adult childrenThese five tips can help you to keep the right kind of contact with adult children who have recently flown the nest. When your adult child leaves home, both you and your child go through a period of weaning.  All you want to do is to keep in close contact but you know your child needs to develop more independence. You may have to step back a bit until you find a balance of communication that is right for both of you. Communication today is so easy with all the tools available – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,  Skype, email etc. However, as Robin Raskin, author of A Parent’s Guide to College Life  says “The digital age is a double-edged sword for empty nesters – the good news is that staying in touch with far-flung kids has never been easier. The bad news is that it has never been easier, too.”

Think before you call

Adult children need to become independent to survive and thrive. If you bombard them with a blitz of messages, offering advice at every turn, it can be quite overwhelming. Your children will be looking to you for the answers instead of discovering answers for themselves. It may take a while before they find their feet and it can be difficult for you as a parent to see them floundering and trying to adjust. You need to re-examine your behavior if you are constantly reaching out to rescue them.  Don’t encourage them to text you with requests all the time. They have to learn how to deal with many issues without receiving your input on every step to take. (more…)

5 causes of empty nest syndrome depression

depressed woman

The causes of empty nest syndrome depression may seem self-evident but it’s worth thinking about them because understanding more about them may help you to make more sense of this phase of your life.  When your whole life has revolved around caring for your children for many years, it is normal to feel some sadness and loneliness when the intense caring phase is over. You should not feel guilty for having these emotions.  It is how you deal with them that matters.

1. Identity loss

I was the kind of mother who probably erred on the side of over-protecting my children and doing too much for them.  Once they had left school, I missed fetching and carrying them, making their lunches, attending concerts, watching sports and even helping with homework.  Suddenly the days felt very long as they were no longer broken up by all kinds of activities related to my kids.  I was not used to having so much time to myself and it lay heavy on my hands at first.  Every mother reacts differently to an empty nest but I think those who have been extremely involved in every aspect of their children’s lives tend to feel it more intensely. They have devoted so much time and energy to their children that there is a huge gap in their lives when they leave.

2. Worry

When you adult child moves out, it is hard not to worry about them. Have you prepared them enough to stand on their own two feet? What will happen when they make the wrong decisions and suffer the consequences?   You are no longer able to protect them the way you did when they were growing up. You know you have to let them go and find their own way but it is not always so easy. You have watched over them for years and protected them from harm in every way you know how. Now you have to trust that they will find their feet and thrive without you being there all the time.

3. Changes in your marriage

When the children leave home, you and your husband suddenly have to become a ‘couple’ again and this often involves some adjustments. Any issues that have been swept under the carpet for the sake of the children will probably rise to the surface once again. For some couples this is a great time of rediscovery but for others it’s a time when they find that they no longer have much in common. They have grown apart over the years and no longer have much to say to one another. This creates tension and stress, increasing the risk of depression. Some experience the ‘double whammy’ of going through a divorce when their children have left home.

4. Financial worries

Some people find they have more disposable income on their hands when their children have left home. They may be able to take more holidays and start ticking off items on their bucket list. However, there is often a transition period when children are studying and not yet earning. This phase  can be more financially demanding than when they were living under your roof.  In an unstable economy when living costs are high, financial worries are often a major cause of depression. Of course, going through a divorce can add further financial pressures.

5. Other life changes

Other factors may come at the same time as an empty nest, making you more vulnerable.   Menopause is often common during this time of life and women have to cope with their fluctuating hormones as well as their empty nest.

Many people also start having to care  for their increasingly frail adult parents at this stage of their lives. Dementia, Alzheimer’s and chronic illness in a parent can add tremendous stress at a time when you are already feeling extremely fragile.

The wrong ways to deal with empty nest depression

Depression is a serious problem and it should never be taken lightly. It makes you feel hopeless, worthless and lacking in energy. It affects your appetite, sleeping patterns and concentration.  If you are seriously depressed and do not have treatment, it may linger on and cause damage not only to you but those around you too. When experiencing these feelings, some people find ways to cope that are not helpful to them or those around them.

1. Finding comfort in alcohol or drugs

In Britain polls have found that empty nest mothers are  resorting to alcohol as a way to cope once their children have left home. They admit to drinking on their own and usually on a daily basis. They think of their drinking as ‘moderate’  and do not realize that, according to doctors, a couple of glasses of wine each day can cause as much, if not more, damage than binge drinking.  Mothers who have experienced addiction before they had children may fall more easily into this trap once their children leave.

2. Looking for someone else to fill the gap

Meri Brown who stars in the reality show Sister Wives,  revealed that she struggled with loneliness once her daughter Mariah left for college. She finally told the members of her family that she had been lured into an online relationship by someone with a fake persona. There are many women who suffer from loneliness that become the victims of what is called ‘catfishing’. By the number of requests I receive on skype from good looking males who professed to be professors, engineers, majors etc. I realized just how easy it may be to fall into this kind of trap, especially if you are   lonely. If a person proceeds very quickly  to ‘romance’ you over chat and email, they’re most likely a ‘catfish’ and it won’t be long before they ask you for money.

Finding solace in the arms of the wrong person, if you are a divorced woman experiencing an empty nest,  is another danger. Some people, especially those with low self esteem, find it almost impossible to be alone. They would rather have any partner than no partner at all. When you feel that you no longer have a purpose in life, it may be tempting to find another person to cling to but this could lead to more stress rather than happiness.

One of the most unusual ways I have ever heard of dealing with empty nest loneliness is the woman who knitted herself a son. Marieke Voorsluijs from the Netherlands is a textile designer. She says that she and her son laugh a lot about him needing his own space and her still having a need to smother him with love. She told Bored Panda that she had a lot of fun making a life-sized replica out of wool with her son contributing creative ideas.  The replica wears a cap, a knitted sweater, sneakers and even has an ipod.

5 positive ways to deal with empty nest depression

Is it normal to feel sad and lonely when a child leaves home? Yes, of course.  However, if you find your emotions are interfering with your daily life and you’re resorting to destructive behavior, it has gone way too far and you need help. It’s time to consult a mental health professional.


REALIZE that you are not alone in your grief. It is something that affects most parents when their children leave home.

RECOGNISE that it often occurs at the same time as other life changes such as menopause, illhealth and retirement, This means it is often not such a simple issue but  compounded by other factors.

ACCEPT that sadness and crying are normal reactions.

BELIEVE it is important to give yourself time to work through your grief. You don’t want to wallow in it but you also can’t hurry it along.

FIND SUPPORT if you feel life is no longer worth living, you are not able to continue with daily activities and you keep crying all the time over a long period.


Here are some tips on how to cope if you are experiencing feelings of being ‘down’ but do not feel that you need the help of a professional. It is never easy to just ‘snap out of it’ when going through depression but you can do some things that help. Feeling better will take time and you have to start small. Taking small actions every day will help over time.

1. Work on your self-image

It’s the perfect time to rediscover yourself and build your self-esteem.  Most mothers are self-sacrificing for the sake of their children. They do not have much time to spend on their own pursuits. This new phase offers the opportunity to spend time on what may have put to one side whilst rearing children.

  • Revive your passions that existed before you had children. I have always enjoyed writing but I never seemed to have the time or energy when my children were growing up. This is one activity that has kept me sane over the past few years in my empty nest.
  • Find new activities you enjoy doing. Perhaps you have always wanted to paint or do pottery and now is your chance.
  • Think about doing things you may have not been free to do when your children were around – lie in bed late, eat at unusual hours etc. You may find experimenting with new recipes and learning to adapt your cooking to your empty nest lifestyle challenging but fun.
  • It’s amazing how learning a new language or a new skill helps to boost your self-image.
  • Take up some physical activity – hiking, riding, walking and going to the gym gives you a real boost, gets you out of your home and keeps you healthy. Exercising is one of the most powerful ways to fight depression.
  • Make sure you get out into the sunlight for a little bit of time each day, sleep enough, eat healthily and look after yourself in every way possible.

2. Set healthy boundaries when relating to adult children

Think before you make that call to find out how they are doing. Don’t keep pestering your adult child to find out if everything is okay. You need to set some boundaries that are acceptable to both parties. It can take some time to adjust to a new way of relating. You always want to be available but you don’t want to be too intrusive or clingy. Its not healthy for your child or for you.

3. Pay attention to your marriage

Now that the children are gone,  you have the opportunity to spend more time with your partner. Think about ways to enjoy time together. Re-establishing the rapport that you had in the early days before children came along can be exciting. This may end up being the most fulfilling phase of your marriage. If this is not possible and you end up facing divorce, make sure that this is the only option as it is not easy to cope with the loneliness of an empty nest and divorce at the same time.

4. Get advice about your finances

Some empty nesters throw caution to the wind and blow too much money during this phase of their lives. At a time when they should be downsizing and planning for retirement, they are enjoying the extra money that comes with not having to support children.  Getting some financial advice relating to the empty nesting phase can be helpful at this point.

5. Stay connected

Take time to catch up with friends – go out for tea, enjoy a spa date together or go to a movie.  Treasure the relationships you do have and don’t allow your negative feelings to cause you to withdraw. It is when you feel isolated and disconnected that negative feelings quickly escalate into depression.

Research has showed that when you help others in any way, it gives you a mood boost. You may not feel the energy to do much but simply offering a listening ear to a friend is one way to do this. Think of ways in which you can do something for someone else, no matter how small.

While you cannot replace human connections with a pet, many empty-nesters have found that caring for a pet makes them feel less lonely and isolated. It gives them something else to focus on besides their empty nest. Returning to an empty house is so much better when there is a pet waiting to greet you and playing with a pet gives you an instant lift.

Last word

As you find your feet in this new phase of your life, your feelings of sadness and loneliness will slowly begin to fade. As they fade and as you start making new discoveries about yourself, you may just find that you are entering one of the best phases of your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Useful kitchen gadgets for making your life easier

As a single person living alone,  I look for any and all ways to simplify my life, giving me more time to do what I enjoy. I have searched and found some products that I believe will help simplify your life, save you time or give you more space if you have a small kitchen (and not cost you too much money either!).  Please note that if you start shopping with Amazon through my links, you do not pay more but I receive a suseful kitchen gadgetsmall commission.

5 Useful Kitchen Gadgets that make food preparation a breeze (under $20)

awesome gadgetKitchen Active Spiral Slicer

This spiral slicer was named best new product by the Gourmet Retailer Magazine. It is molded using high quality ABS and BPA-free plastic for a lightweight feel and is fitted with top-quality stainless steel Japanese blades. It fits in your hand, is easy to store and you can wash it in your dishwasher.

Everyone is trying to minimize carb-intake these days and I absolutely love pasta. With this slicer, I can make ‘pasta’ using vegetables, like carrots or zucchini. Buy it here for $9.97

(more…)

Parenting adult children, hatchlings and vulnerability

A rare green albino turtle was recently found on the Sunshine Coast in Australia. Volunteers thought the nest was empty but when they examined it, they were surprised to find a tiny white hatchling. Members of a local environmental volunteer group had already counted 122 broken eggs, so its siblings had already made it into the ocean. The volunteer group’s president, L. Warneminde, said. “It looked like a normal turtle hatchling, except that it had a white shell and it had little white flippers, and you could see a little bit of pink under its flippers. None of us had ever experienced or seen anything like that before, so we were all a little bit taken aback.” With its coloring, this little one is extremely vulnerable. It has a very slim chance of surviving the dangerous journey ahead of it across the Pacific ocean. In parenting adult children, we may often feel that they are just as vulnerable as this little hatchling and fear the obstacles they might have to encounter on their journey.

(more…)

Learn how to build self-esteem

improve self-esteem

Self-esteem doesn’t have much to do with your ability or talents. It has everything to do with what you feel about yourself. It can afflict anyone – even those who seem to have everything going for them. Many of us were saddened when David Bowie died recently. He filled auditoriums with fans in the 1970s and his music is still appreciated by millions of people.  Bowie confessed to a reporter ‘I had enormous self-image problems and very low self-esteem, which I hid behind obsessive writing and performing.’ What you see on the outside may be very different from what is going on inside. When you love who you are, it makes life simpler. You are not always striving to reach some impossible standard of perfection. You are less affected by the opinions of others and no longer your own worst enemy. It is possible to learn how to build self-esteem and grow to love who you are.

Causes of low self-esteem

Why is it that people suffer from low self-esteem? There are many factors that can contribute:

  • bad childhood experiences such as bullying or criticism from parents or teachers.
  • difficult life experiences like a relationship breaking down or financial difficulties.
  • your personality or temperament – perhaps you have a tendency towards negativity or feeling that you are ‘the odd one out’.
  • your relationships – associating with people who are critical, and make you feel bad about yourself.
  • your own mind – you may have fallen into a cycle of destructive thinking.
  • trauma and physical, psychological or sexual abuse.
  • discrimination – belonging to a family or social group not accepted by others.

Effects of low self-esteem

Low self-esteem has all kinds of effects on your behavior. You find it difficult to make decisions. You will listen to what everyone else thinks and still second-guess all your choices. You are highly offended when you feel like someone has slighted you, such as failing to include you in their plans or forgetting your birthday. You will never do anything on your own, like going to a movie, because it makes you feel like a social failure.  You tend to badmouth others because it makes you feel superior.  You cannot be happy when others succeed because you are not happy with yourself.

Low self-esteem makes it difficult to complete tasks, form new relationships, try new activities and over time this may lead to depression. Unhelpful behavior, like drinking or taking drugs, is often related to low self-esteem. You do not care enough about yourself to worry about the consequences.

Check your thought and speech patterns

Your internal dialogue:
Do you think about your flaws rather than your accomplishments?
Are you more likely to feel ‘I can’t do that’, than ‘I can beat this’?
Do you face every new challenge with negative thoughts?

Your words:
Are you constantly putting yourself down?
When someone offers you a compliment, how do you react?
If someone compliments you on what you are wearing, is your immediate response to say you need to lose weight?
If someone compliments you on an achievement, do you downplay it because you think you are being boastful if you acknowledge it?

I recently listened to a dialogue between Carol Tuttle of ‘Dressing your Truth’ and Robyn Openshaw aka ‘Green Smoothie Girl.’ They were addressing the habit women have of putting themselves down. We tend to mention our flaws to one another. We say, ‘I look like a real mess today’ and our friends reply ‘Oh no, you’re looking great.’ Carol says this behavior, often based on generational modelling (it’s what our mothers did and taught us to do),  prevents women from evolving.

10 ways to help you build self-esteem

There is no way to transform your thinking and behavior overnight. It takes time to break the cycle and you need to work on it consistently to see the results in your life.  You have to break that conditioning that says ‘I’m not good enough’ and prevents you from handling any situation where you might be exposed to criticism. Management and treatment of low self esteem can be treated with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). It gives a framework for understanding your problem, what caused it and what keeps the cycle going.  It offers a practical approach where you try out new ways of behaving, and observe the effect that this has on the way you feel about yourself.  You learn to:

  1. Change your internal dialogue – you have to stop that little voice inside your head that keeps telling you that you don’t measure up. Catch yourself every time you voice something negative about yourself. Focus on your strengths instead.
  2. Stop thinking that you have to be perfect.  It is normal to make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up over them and learn from them instead.
  3. Celebrate small triumphs. When you complete a task or succeed at a challenge,  you will feel good about yourself. This does not have to be something too big – it can simply be accomplishing a small task or taking up a new hobby. Do not attempt anything too challenging at first or you may end up feeling overwhelmed and worse about yourself than before. Succeed at several small goals and the momentum will build.
  4. Keep a journal. Write down a list of things you appreciate about yourself. Be aware of your thought patterns. It may help to keep notes of situations where you have reacted in a negative way. An awareness of your interactive journalnegative thought patterns is the first step towards changing them. Write down what you have accomplished before you go to bed, no matter how small a task or project. If you find a blank journal intimidating, an interactive one might be more suitable for you.
    Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration is an interactive journal designed to help you to take the time to know yourself and your dreams.   Its features hand-lettering, images, supportive prompts and exercises as well as inspirational quotes. It also has open-ended questions and prompts, with room for writing and reflecting.
  5. Keep an inspiration box.
    multi-purpose inspiration boxmetal embossed boxinspiration boxkeepsake boxIn the box keep positive quotes, cards people have written to you and any  other mementos that reinforce your self-esteem.  Take the box out whenever you have times of self  doubt and browse through it.
  6. Avoid comparisons.  Constantly comparing yourself with others is a very destructive habit. Instead you need to look at how far you have come and make goals for your future.
  7. Spend time with people who are supportive and have a positive effect on you. Some people will suck you into their mind games, making you feel insecure and bad about yourself. Limit the time you spend with them or avoid them altogether.
  8. Become more assertive. It is possible to be assertive and set clear boundaries in relationships without being aggressive or obnoxious. We fear being assertive because we think we will be thought of as overbearing. If we truly value ourselves, we will not allow others to treat us with disrespect. It is possible to be assertive without being offensive.
  9. Physical exercise, diet and sleep all contribute towards improved self- esteem.  Working on these areas will not only keep you healthy but make you feel much better about yourself.
  10. Reading self-help books also helps you to learn how to develop a positive mindset.

Here  are 5 quotes about self-esteem to add to your inspiration box:

‘Having a low opinion of yourself is not “modesty”. It’s self-destruction. Holding your uniqueness in high regard is not “egotism”. It’s a necessary precondition to happiness and success.’
– Dr. Bobbe Sommer

“She lacks confidence, she craves admiration insatiably. She lives on the reflections of herself in the eyes of others. She does not dare to be herself.”
– Anais Nin

“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance”
– Oscar Wilde

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
– George Eliot

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Marianne Williamson, author of  A Return to Love

Conquering your self-esteem issues will transform your life. It will enable you to accept compliments graciously, value your accomplishments, reach your goals and establish healthy relationships.

When low self-esteem issues are not addressed, negative thinking patterns can get worse over time and result in serious health problems such as anxiety and depression. If you are still battling despite trying to help yourself,  and feel you need help, you may want to give self-help groups and talking treatments a try.

Thinking of downsizing your home? Ask yourself these questions

downsizing your homeWhen facing a decision about downsizing your home, there are two most important questions to ask. Will it improve your finances? Will it improve your lifestyle? If you answer is ‘yes’ to both of these questions, you need to make the decision sooner rather than later. Don’t stay in your large family home until your children have to drag you out.

There is no set age to downsize – some empty nesters choose to downsize in their 50s. Others prefer to stay on in their family homes until they feel it’s time to move into a retirement community.  Some couples take a few steps, from family home to smaller home, condo or apartment, before eventually settling in a retirement community. There is no right way or wrong way to downsize – it’s what’s best for all concerned that matters. (more…)

Saying goodbye never gets easier

saying goodbyeAfter a weekend of sewing curtains, packing and washing clothing, my daughter finally left for university once again after a three month holiday. An entourage of three cars set off, loaded with her possessions.  I have repeated this process for the past three years while she studied for her degree but saying goodbye never gets easier.

When we arrived at her little bachelor flat, I hung her curtains and unpacked her kitchen utensils, leaving her to unpack her clothes. As I drove back home, I experienced mixed feelings – I was glad she was installed in her little space and a step further along the road to becoming a psychologist.  However, I couldn’t avoid the sadness that was there too as I took that lonely drive back home. (more…)

Singles Holidays: over 50 and ready to travel

singles holidays over 50Many empty nesters take the opportunity to travel once their children have left home.  They are healthy, have some disposable income and want to enjoy life while they can. Some of them have even sold their homes and all their possessions. They live an adventurous life, moving from place to place (like the Gypsy Empty Nesters).  Other couples make a point of taking frequent holidays. However, for singles, a long holiday to a far-flung destination is not undertaken so lightly. This is not like venturing out in your own backyard. In the past, singles holidays also cost much more but this is beginning to change. Many more singles, particularly those over 50, are finding that traveling is now not only affordable but that companies have caught on and are tailoring experiences just for them. (more…)

Improve your brain health performance

board games for adults

When researching a previous post called Do brain development games really make a difference? my opinion was confirmed that playing board games is not just entertaining but can improve your brain function too. Our brains need exercise just like our bodies if they are to remain sharp and function at their best.

I was coerced into playing games on Christmas Day and I remembered just how much fun it could be. We decided to play Pictionary, much to my chagrin, because I knew my attempts at drawing were going to provide the others with some laughs. I am quite a wiz at all the word games but drawing is certainly not my strong point. I was not wrong but it was the laughs that made the game so much fun. My elephant may have looked like a donkey but my mother’s attempts all resembled body parts! (more…)