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The impact of 'empty nest syndrome' on Mothers

'For Maternal Mental Health Month, we've investigated the struggles faced by Mothers of older children and young adults, and the impact of 'empty nest syndrome'.

17 year old Sophia (left), and Mum Emma (right) of Solent Mind

Maternal Mental Health Month is a time to spread awareness of the troubles Mothers face with their mental health, and this year we ask, is there enough support and advice out there for Mothers of older children/young adults?

An Instagram poll we ran yesterday saw 83% say they don’t feel there is enough resources out there, while 56% have stated they have experienced, or have anticipated experiencing empty nest syndrome. 

'Empty nest syndrome' is defined as the feelings of sadness and loss a parent experiences when a child leaves home.

Solent Mind’s Emma Dunbar, Mother of 17 year old Sophia, said: “You’ve got to learn to let go and that is one of the hardest parenting stages. I’ve been through the terrible twos, I’ve been a lot of different things, but letting go… Because they are always going to be your babies.

“For my own mental wellbeing, because I am quite an anxious person, and I have to manage my own anxieties without pushing them on my daughter.”

Like Emma, finding that balance between keeping their kids safe, while also allowing them to have freedom to grow is a something a number of Mums on our Instagram expressed concerns with.

People with anxiety often find comfort in routine and having long standing routines can help reduce anxiety for a lot of people, but with that comes a sense of unease when these routines are disrupted or have to change.

Emma explained: “You get into these routines, and it has been a long time in these routines, even more so over the course of the pandemic as she would be in the house even more than she might have been as a teenager if it wasn’t for lockdowns.

“When you’ve got little kids, they become your whole life and you live for your little kids. I miss walking home from school and hearing all about her day. It can be so hard as they start telling you less, and you know there is probably stuff they are dealing with, you just aren’t hearing about it as much.”

Mums on our Instagram also expressed worries alongside being hyperaware of mental health problems, body image issues, social media and general pressures to succeed for their children as they grow into adults.

Emma has shared some tips for Mums who might be feeling like her:

“During the younger years I was swamped with too much advice, there was almost too much information, but now I’m finding being a Mum to a young adult there isn’t much advice available at all,” said Emma.

Do you have any additional tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them on our socials, type Solent Mind in on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook!

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