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My newsletter, published on the first Sunday of each month, supports seasoned freelancers and independent consultants who want to make sense of their money so that they can blaze a brighter trail at home and work while protecting their family's wealth and happiness.

Life after the kids leave home

Sep 2, 2023 | PSL Newsletters

A sense of purposelessness is not the only concern after the kids leave home. New opportunities abound when you accept times are changing…
A sense of purposelessness is not the only concern after the kids leave home. New opportunities abound when you accept times are changing…

In September 2015, we took my son to a university in a distant part of the country instead of returning him to school, which he finished in July.

I remember collecting him from school on his last day. After seven years, we knew parents, teachers and support staff well. Many had become friends, and a few were almost family. So, whilst we felt a sense of fulfilment, it was accompanied by a profound sense of the ending of an era, with all the emotions accompanying it. September of 2015 was the worst, as instead of getting everything ready for a return to school, we let him go into the world on his own.

I was a trustee of the school’s alumni association at the time. Recognising the long and close connection so many parents had with the school and the sense of loneliness, loss, and sadness as their last child left, we opened the association to past parents to help everyone stay connected with the school and each other, a move welcomed by many parents.

The “Empty Nest Syndrome”

Feelings of sadness, loss, and loneliness, sometimes leading to anxiety, depression, and decreased self-worth, are expected now. This state of mind is unsurprising. After all, you have devoted the last eighteen-plus years to nurturing your young family and keeping them safe. It has been your “job”, and you have just lost it.

Commentators focus on this sense of purposelessness and grief; it is the most discussed aspect of life for parents after the children leave home. Indeed, these feelings were common amongst parents I interviewed this year whilst researching how to support parents in these situations.

However, they were not the only concerns.

New challenges

In the UK, the average age at which couples start a family is between 27 and 32. Their children leave home between 18 and 22, and parents become empty nesters around age 45 to 55. This timeline is similar in many parts of the world.

So, school ends at an age when much else is changing. Parents I interviewed told me they have ignored or given a lower priority to many other issues while focusing on their children’s final school years. Even the most resourceful and determined parents struggle with these typical problems when their kids leave home:

  • No peace of mind. You are worried because you don’t know if your money is about to run out, your health is about to fail, your job is about to disappear – and the kids don’t ring.
  • No purpose. The kids have gone, and after 20+ years of working to pay for them, supporting them and nurturing them, you have no idea where to go next.
  • No plans. You know it’s time to reorganise your lives and finances, but you don’t know where to start or where you want to get to

Here is the thing. As your children leave school and head off alone, you become anxious about the immediate consequences. You wonder about your purpose in life, and you feel a sense of loss.

However, you are also at an age where many new and often unrelated opportunities emerge.

Imagine if…

Instead of constant anxiety, imagine your life where:

  • You have organised your finances so well that after joining friends for a drink and a bite to eat, you have no worries about providing your credit card, knowing there is money in your bank and budget.
  • You sit with your morning coffee to check your email and discover with delight that three more watercolour courses have sold overnight after your other half decided to use their newfound free time to turn an occasional hobby into a popular and profitable online business.
  • You use your Saturday mornings to get fit rather than driving your kids to football practice, bringing a sense of achievement after you shave another 20 seconds off your 10k time!
  • You calmly discuss with your partner at New Year how you want to spend your time and money this coming year without getting anxious or defensive about your aspirations or money.

While I was able to use my valuable experience as a life and financial planner to navigate many of these issues, I also sought help. It is my understanding that many couples would welcome a skilled helper and a facilitator to take them through the next stage of their lives.

If this is you…

If you want to talk more about overcoming your problems and making the most of opportunities after the kids leave home, send an email to me at jd@projectsophialtd.co.uk or book a free 20-minute consultation call.

If you’ve just subscribed… 

Welcome to After the Lids Leave Home, a monthly newsletter providing support across a range of topics for parents whose kids have left home as they reorganise their lives and money to grow their wealth, find a new purpose by making a difference and live with grace and style. Find out more at jeremydeedes.com.

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What do you think?

Your views are important, and your fellow readers would love to hear your opinion, so share your thoughts in the comments box below, and thank you for your time and generosity.

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