With summer coming to a close and fall semesters about to begin, some of us will, for the first time ever, be saying goodbye to our children (at least until Thanksgiving!)

Welcome to the life of the empty-nester.

While many of you know, the term “empty nester” refers to parents whose children have left home and are now on their own. Maybe you’ve experienced this personally, or rather are nervous to send your last kid to school. Read on for more information about empty nest syndrome, and some ways in which you can prepare for it.

What is Empty Nest Syndrome?

Empty nest syndrome is the sadness and loneliness that accompanies sending your last child away from home or, the “nest.” Although you may promote independence as a parent, it can be mentally difficult knowing that you are no longer playing the same role in your child’s life. Those most prone to empty nest syndrome include those who do not handle change well, full-time parents, as well as those who struggle with anxiety.

An empty nest can be daunting — your family dynamics will shift, relationships will change, and you may find yourself questioning your self-identity. As parents, we will all be forced to let go of our children. Here are some tips to make the transition as smooth as possible.

How To Prepare To Be An Empty-Nester

When a child leaves home, your house can suddenly feel like a foreign place: it’s important that you prepare for it.

1. Find Confidence That Your Child is Ready

Does your child know how to fix a flat tire? Do they know how to make their own food (that’s not cereal)? Do they have information about health and car insurance in case of an accident?

To prep for sending your son or daughter away from home, you’ll worry less if you know that they are independent, self-sufficient adults.

2. Talk to Other Empty-Nesters

Find counsel in others that have been through the process. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but the empty nest syndrome is a very real phenomenon felt by anyone who has launched their last child into the “real world.” Talking to others will help you feel less alone, as well as learn what helped others get through the initial heartbreak.

3. Pursue Alternative Hobbies

Remember when you loved to quilt? Or paint? Or read? Well, now you have the time! Think about what you’re passionate about and focus on those hobbies when you find spare time. Not only will these activities help distract you from the absence in your home, but hobbies are a great way to build self-esteem. Need ideas? Here are a few hobbies with proven health benefits.

4. Build Existing Relationships, Make New Friends

Now that being a parent is less time intensive than it used to be, you have more time to devote to your spouse or friends. In regards to your marriage, this is a new chapter in you and your partner’s life. If you’ve found that things have been a bit dull lately, find ways to rekindle your romance and tackle the next great adventure together.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to find new friends to spend time with. Join a gym, sign up for classes, or get involved in your community — new friends are a great way to help deal with the loneliness felt from a bare home.

5. Keep a Positive Attitude

Ultimately, launching your children into adulthood will be a mentally difficult process. Remember to stay positive! What you’re feeling is normal, and you’ll need time to adapt to your new life. You can do it!