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Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Peri-empty nesting


I have quite a few women friends becoming dissatisfied in their work. It's not something they've usually had an issue with. There does however seem to be a pattern amongst these women. While I think the bushfires has actually given us all a low grade depression (and add to that the governments appalling inaction on climate change so we know it will only get worse for us so there's also a feeling of futility and despair), and the fact no one could exercise properly or enjoy being outdoors for the last four months, which has a very damaging side effect to our mental wellbeing, I do believe there is more to it. 

All these women have one child finished school and the other one heading into the senior years. The children are becoming more independent and our role as mother is becoming less relevant. Once one child finishes the HSC, you realise it's not the big fanfare that we're led to believe. It is literally as Michael Carr-Gregg says in his book, Surviving the HSC, merely the third 'transition into work or study'. That first year post HSC makes you realise your role as mother is ending, at least in that level of involvement.

Just as perimenopause heralds the occurrence of menopause with a few minor symptoms, this is the beginning of the realisation that soon your life will just revolve around you. After the years of juggling family life and children's needs, that can be daunting as it requires you to know what your needs and desires are to feel fulfilled. 

Basically, there are suddenly a lot less things to distract you from your work, so you need work to be a lot more engaging and interesting than it was before. The need for satisfaction from work becomes greater than it's ever been. That's a big ask as it hasn't changed necessarily, you have.
                                                                      
We suddenly discover we are at an age where life is more about us than it has been for at least the last 18-20 years.  We need something invigorating in our lives. We need our lives to be meaningful again. And for a lot of us, that's causing dissatisfaction in work, because that's the thing that's still taking up most of our time and where our focus and self-esteem is.

I don't have the solution yet, but I do believe understanding what's causing the issue is a good start. Only you can decide if there really is a problem with your job, and if changing work will be a solution or will you just carry that dissatisfaction with you to a new workplace? For some people, making time for hobbies will solve it. For some people they need to discover what they actually enjoy doing. For others, a new career will be the solution. Something they've always dreamed of or something that will help for others or impactful work.

My only advice is that it appears to be a common problem. It is worth investigating what is specifically the cause before you take action. A little introspection can never hurt.

Are you feeling this or noticing it in your circle of friends? What do you think? Does Peri-emptynesting  exist?

Linking with #DreamTeam
Musings Of A Tired Mummy

28 comments:

  1. Very thought-provoking post. Like you, I don't have any answers to this but agree that a little inttrospection may be helpful. Thank you for addressing this important issue. #MLSTL

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  2. Hi Lydia, An interesting post. I like your title, Peri-empty nesting often when we are in perimenopause. I like how you point out how work may not have changed, yet we have changed. My daughters are in their 30’s now. My goal was to empower them when they were making the transition to leave home. I wanted them to know I would be fine and we would connect often. I find with peri-emptynesting and menopause and all the stages of growing older, I am still a Mother and a role-model. I want them to not fear growing older and how the best is still to come. Thank you for a thought-provoking post. Visiting from #MLSTL

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  3. That's a really good point. These years coincide with the "is this all there is?" realisation - mainly because there is the space to think about that. My daughter is nearly 22 now, studying but still living at home & the realisation that she's testing those wings can be a tough one at times - for my husband and I more than her. Now it's about us looking for what we need outside (and beside) of our roles as parents while recognising that it's probably not going to come from the day job.

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  4. My kids left home to go to uni in the city when they were in their late teens. My work has always been something I do to keep the wolf from the door, so I just kept plodding along with it. I think things change when you start asking "am I fulfilled doing this?" and for a lot of us the answer is No - and by the time we hit our 50's our finances often allow us to make choices that we couldn't afford to make when we were supporting the full family unit. I love the freedom that this whole empty nest thing brings with it!

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  5. A few years ago when my kids were in their early 20s and starting to travel and spend a lot of their time away, I realised that I was going to get really lonely if I didn't find something to occupy my time. My husband works long hours and we can go days without seeing each other because I work shiftwork. I found a few hobbies that I enjoyed and now I feel a lot more satisfied with life. It's definitely a phase we go through - realising our children don't need us as much. They still will need us, but in a different way. Our role is to give them the tools to become independent, functioning adults. Once they're adults our role changes but we're still their mothers! From Christina Henry #MLSTL

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  6. I understand your post Lydia, particularly the anxiety and disturbance the bushfires have had on people. It seems a lot are now through the euphoric good will stage and going downwards, maybe due to lack of adrenaline that they've been on for so long. This combined with that next stage of kids moving on in school and getting ready for flying the nest can be a hard one. A very thought provoking post, thanks, and I don't have the answer either! #mlstl

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    1. The bushfires really affected my frame of mind and mood. I thought it was just me. Then I went to a talk on Being alive at the Opera House and nearly every speaker was very despondant about the situation with the fires and one even broke down crying and I realised it wasn't just me, as a nation (at least anywhere that got clogged in smoke for months) we've been changed by it. It was a very interesting realisation.

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  7. Interesting post. My children have been gone for several years now and it is a bit daunting when you suddenly realize how the once hustle and bustle of a busy house is now quiet and feels empty. I work full time so it helped a lot. My husband I began to reconnect as a couple and took a few day trips, close weekend getaways and date night every Saturday which simply means trying new restaurants or cooking something new together while we watched a movie on TV or danced to some of our favorite songs in the den. Now most of my kids have children of their own and are very involved with their own lives. Once we both retire later this year, we will be more open to getting more involved in our community and things outside the home instead of weekend warriors. Sure, I still miss the hustle bustle but so thankful I was given the opportunity to experience all I did. This worked for us and you will find what works for you. Good luck and hang in there.

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  8. Hi Lydia I never gave much thought to this phase of life and I suppose it is like planning for retirement. Women need to plan for the 'empty-nest'. Of course there is so much information out there about 'now is your time' (I've written about that myself) but you make a very valid point - whilst we have been 'mothering' we have changed and are very different women. You have given some great advice as a starting point for soon to be 'empty nesters' and I love the term peri-empty nest it describes this phase of life perfectly. Thanks so much for sharing at #MLSTL and have a great week. Will be sharing on social media. xx

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  9. Some great points but I can imagine that the bushfires will have had a huge affect. I could not even imagine how tough it must be not being able to go and enjoy the great outdoors for so long and it must have a big impact on everyone’s mental state.
    #KCACOLS

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    1. It was really awful. We weren't at risk at all and it was still overwhelming. It's changed our population, I think.

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  10. This is a post that I can totally relate to, we have an empty nest #anythinggoes@_karendennis

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  11. When all of my kids left home, I was sad for about 10 minutes. Then I realized how much more free time I had. I tried out some new pursuits and spent more time on old ones. Eventually, we all do find our way. Parenting takes up so much of your time when kids are little. It can be tough to figure out what to do with the time we spent on our children!

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  12. Great post, and so true. I think just as you have to get to know the new you when you become a mum, I think you change again when they are older. #KCACOLS

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  13. An interesting post. I have one son who has already finished school and one with a year to go, so basically I am in the bracket you talk about. However, I find the future exciting! I am looking forward to more time to myself, more time to travel - and less time reminding my kids about doing homework!!! #TwinklyTuesday

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  14. It's definitely a thing! I call my situation an empty-ing nest, and it never occurred to me that life would change so much so fast, but I realized at some point that I had all four kids in my home at once for a mere 10 years. Sobering.

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  15. It's so true ... as our kids get bigger, they are not shy about letting you know when you are needed, and when not. And it is important, for our own sanity and sense of identity to both adapt to that, and ground ourselves more in areas of interest. Really interesting post. #KCACOLS

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  16. I have seen this in some friends who have kids older than mine, and it is very much a thing and I am trying to combat that by making an effort to make sure I am happy in my job, going back to uni to do a course and working on my needs a bit and interests so that when my kids start to need me less, it's not such huge shock. We do need to do this, our kids will leave us and we need to be able to find ourselves again. Thanks for sharing with #stayclassymama

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  17. I think the mid life crisis is a real thing and not just something that guys go through. There comes a time when I think many of us stop and re-evaluate our lives and may not be as satisfied as we feel we should be #twinklytuesday

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    1. Def not just a guy thing. But I do think the men seem to go through it about a decade earlier...just from what I've noticed

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  18. Not there yet as I'm techncially a geriatric mum! But sooooo easy to imagine how I will identify with this in 15 years. Thanks for linking up with #stayclassymama

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  19. This definitely makes sense, I would have thought it's a fairly common phenomenon. Personally, I'm unlikely to ever have this 'issue', as I'm expecting to be my (disabled) child's carer until the end of life.
    Thanks so much for linking up with #KCACOLS, hope you come back again next time! x

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  20. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. I will delete all ads so don't bother - and def don't bother with ones about weight loss. YAWN

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  21. I'm a few years off from having an empty nest but I can imagine its a really hard time because suddenly you don't have the never-ending responsibility of having your child there. Even when they are older, I think there must still be the sense of looking out for them and making sure they are ok. Interesting read, thanks for sharing. #TwinklyTuesday

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  22. We are quite a long way off this at the moment, so to be honest it hasn't crossed my mind until now! Ekk!! I definitely know what my passions are outside of work 'work', so I'm guessing that when I'm not needed nearly so much at home, it will just few up more time to indulge in pastimes. Or at least... I hope it works out that way! Thank you for joining us for the #DreamTeamLinky

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  23. I have been working a lot more on the last few weeks and am relishing being Laura again rather then just Muuuuuummmm (in a very whingy voice from the kids obviously!) Thanks for linking up with #dreamteamlinky

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