Despite the fact that getting married and having children are two of the most blessed and life-altering events that happen to most men, we still root for the single guys. Sure, you love your wife and you don't know what you'd do without her. You'd also be devastated if your kids up and disappeared. But admit it: you love to hear wining-and-dining stories from your single buddies, and you'd implore them at every opportunity to stay single. It's not that you don't love your wife, your kids or your life. It's just that being single was so much fun, and you never realized it until it was gone. You played video games whenever you wanted for as long as you wanted, you slept in on weekends, you hung out with the guys at your sole discretion - you were king of your domain. But now that life is over, and there's no turning back. No sense letting one of your friends become a victim, as well, right? News flash: your kids aren't going to be around forever. Before you know it, they're going to head off to college, move out into the world and leave you alone with your wife. Remember how much you longed for your single days? Well, now you're not going to know what to do with yourself. Where there was once structure and order, there is now emptiness. No more chasing around kids, no more watching the clock waiting for your boy to bring the car home, no more big family dinners and fighting the kids for leftovers. It's just the two of you again, like it was so long ago. If you're active in your children's lives, then you probably spent the last year helping your teen get ready for college. There's a lot of planning that goes into this move - not only physical and financial preparations, but also emotional ones. This is the big day, what you and your wife have been training for. Your baby bird is leaving the nest, and now you get to see whether he can fly or not. But in all these preparations for you kid, did you stop to prepare yourself for this day? The boy is ready to leave - he's been ready for years. Are you ready, though? Before it's too late, you should make some of your own preparations. If you don't, you may end up spending your days either pining over your lost children or hovering over them at every chance you get. Empty nest syndrome is a severe psychological problem that can harm marriages. At the same time, your kids moved out to start living on their own. If you hover over them the entire time they're away, you're likely to either drive them farther away or make them dependent upon you. Follow these steps to help cope with your empty nest:
- Lean on your friends - Chances are, you have friends that are going through the same thing you're going through. Talk to them, and while it may be difficult for you, share your feelings. You may find that talking to someone that understands and hearing about their experiences may help lighten the load.
- Take advantage of the time with your wife - This is an opportunity of a lifetime, and the two of you haven't had time together like this since before you were married. Go out on some dates! Play miniature golf, see some movies, or grab dinner. Make scheduled date nights throughout the week to take your mind off of your empty house.
- Sign up for classes - This is a perfect opportunity to go back to school. Follow a dream that you had to abandon by signing up for some classes in that profession. If college isn't too expensive, just find some community classes to take, like pottery or sculpting. With your wife in tow, you have even more options, like dance class. Although you may not like it at first, you'd be amazed at how fun a good mambo can be.
- Keep in touch with your kids, but don't hover - You don't want your kids to think you're a helicopter parent (one who hovers), but at the same time you also don't want to lose touch with them. Keep in touch by sending them emails about what's going on at home (don't be surprised, though, if you don't get a response. Hey, they're kids at college - they're busy living). Try to schedule a weekly time that you can call and talk to them. If they see that you're making an effort to not smother them, they may be more receptive to keeping in touch. And if you fear you might be becoming a helicopter parent, take this quiz.