Can Cleaning Shoo Away Empty Nest Blues?
If even one child has left home for college, chances are you are suffering from Empty Nest syndrome. What’s that? Empty Nest syndrome is the extreme loneliness or grief that takes over parents once their children leave home, maybe for college or to live independently for the very first time. It is a life-changing phase many people go through, so despite what it is called, this is not a manifestation of depression. One way to deal with the persisting feeling of sadness is to replace longing for the past with a vision of the future. What better way to do that but by clearing out old knick-knacks and making space for new memories to be made?
Out with the Old
Mindfulness experts recommend clearing out your home as an exercise in moving on. This approach may benefit both you and your adult children accept this new stage in life. Beginning with your children’s former bedrooms, start cleaning and sorting items into the following categories:
- Stow: This includes irreplaceable items, such as Anna’s first teddy bear or Liam’s stamp collection, which must be stored for safekeeping.
- Throw: These items are easy to identify; the tattered hockey jersey, a box full of doll heads, and the colorful sock collection with missing pairs.
- Donate: Feel free to be generous when sorting for donation. There are many wonderful charitable organizations that re-sale items such as mildly used clothing and shoes for those who desperately need them. Toys that have little wear and tear can be delivered to the local daycare center.
You will discover that this is an exercise in gratitude as well as in organization.
In with the New
Once the room has been cleared of the excess, be it shoes or furniture, it is time look at the space with a fresh pair of eyes. Remember how you always wanted to a study of your very own? Here it is, just waiting to be transformed. All it will take to become your dream study is some buckets of paint, a few organizational boxes and lots of elbow grease.
You might not need an entire room to set yourself on the path towards rejuvenation. If the top stair landing has been cleared out, you can add a few potted plants, a piece of quartz crystal and throw down a yoga mat for a daily meditation session.
Storing Memories Online
Photos are the hardest to let go of and it might be because we are the last generation to experience receiving a packet of developed photos from the one-hour photo nook. Following the bedroom purge, chances are that you came upon a good number of memorable photographs tucked away in albums. With your adult children off on new adventures and everyone who is anybody sharing their lives online, it is time to catch up with the world. Avail free photo scanning applications like Google Photos and Google Scanner to save all your precious photographs in digital format. The next time you want to swap stories and memories, that embarrassing potty-training picture will only be a click away!
A Treasure Trove of Memories
Once done with the de-cluttering chore, you will find that have much more time to invest in your own happiness. You and your spouse can take up new hobbies or just spend more time rediscovering each other. Being happy doesn’t mean forgetting the past. Instead, it means being motivated by easily accessible memories to build a future full of fresh starts.