My Mom Has Empty Nest Syndrome

Written by: Ankita Kathad – MA (Clinical Psychology)

Last updated date : March 01, 2023

Jared is the only child of his parents. After he moved out for college, his mom started behaving strangely. She remained sad all day and acted withdrawn at times. Jared could not understand what was happening. After some research, he found out that his mom has empty nest syndrome. This article explores empty nest syndrome if there is only one child.

“Very practical suggestions” Peter

95 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use
$9.00 $12.00

25% discount


Chapter 1:

What Is Empty Nest Syndrome?

This refers to feelings of loss and emptiness when a child leaves home. Typically when the last child leaves home, the house becomes like an empty nest. This is why it is termed an empty nest syndrome. This is not a medical or clinical condition as such but rather an experience.

A parent has many duties. Picking up the child from school, planning meals for them, and even working hard for their school events. Suddenly, this routine changes when the child moves out. This can be sad for parents for whom, children are an essential and integral part of life. There are many reasons for getting upset when the child leaves, here are some of them:

Loss of Control
The parent controls many aspects of a child’s life. A parent maintains their schedule and gets to decide what they eat and where they go. Additionally, a parent also gets to monitor their child’s activities. This monitoring becomes difficult when the child leaves home. The parent can no longer keep a track of where the child goes, who they talk to, or when they are sleeping. This can be frustrating for parents. Especially for parents who hover over their children.
Loss of Purpose
When a child lives with their parents, there are many things a parent has to do. Take the child to karate classes, cook for them, ensure that their health is good, and many other things. When a child moves out, a parent, especially a mother feels a lack of purpose. In many cultures, mothers look after the children more. This is why mothers who have empty nest syndrome may feel lost for a while when their children leave. They will feel upset and purposeless for a while.
The House Is Not Noisy Anymore
It is strange that sometimes mothers can get all too frustrated because of the noise in the house. Yet they may miss the sound of their children so much when they leave. They will crave all the laughter and the chaos to come back. When children leave, the house is not busy anymore. Mothers will have to find alternate ways of keeping themselves busy. At one point she had all the hustle-bustle in the house. Suddenly the house is vacant.
Loneliness and Emotional Distress
Many mothers feel lonely after the children leave. Mothers usually find purpose in raising their children. Often relationship stress is set aside and couples spend time raising their children. Their lives revolve around their children. So when the child leaves, mothers can feel lonely. Conflicts with spouses can spring up. Mothers can feel guilty for not being much available to their kids. There can be a variety of emotions that can contribute to or be a part of empty nest syndrome.

Chapter 2:

Signs of Empty Nest Syndrome

There are many signs of empty nest syndrome. Mothers and fathers can both show similar and different signs. Since both of them play different roles in a child’s life. Mothers can have one or many signs. These emotions can be very distressing for her. However, with effective coping, living without children can be manageable.
  1. Emotional Turbulence: A mother can have crying spells if suddenly reminded of her children. When she sees other children on the road or in the park, it might upset her. She may feel lost and withdrawn.
  2. Constant Worry About her Children: A mother may be worried about what her children are doing. She will feel anxious about their food, where they party, and who they are dating. She may check with her children, multiple times a day. A mother may keep checking them on social media.
  3. Avoidance: A mother will avoid social events. This is because she does not want to be reminded of her children. Social withdrawal can be very harmful and can often lead to mental health problems.
Empty Nest Syndrome and Only Child
When a mother has only one child, she is mostly very close to the child. Her entire life revolves around that one child. All children are precious to a mother. However, when there is only one child, the mother finds herself very attached to the child. When a mom with a single child has empty nest syndrome, it is very difficult for her. When there are multiple children, she gets used to the idea of children moving out. But when there is only one child, the sense of loss is quite profound.

Chapter 3:

My Mom Has Empty Nest Syndrome- How Can She Cope With It?

If your mom has been facing empty nest syndrome after you moved out, she can cope with it. Here are some ways in which mothers can manage their emotions once children leave.
Mothers have to understand that just like the baby birds fly away once they learn how to fly, children too have to move out. Children need to move out for various reasons. Jobs, family, or travel. There can be many reasons. However, it is important for mothers to accept the timing. Do not clip the child’s wings. It is important to accept that children have to move out to become independent.
Get Busy
Once children move out, there are many things mothers can do. They will have a good amount of time for self-care. They can learn a hobby, and spend time with their partner or friends. Mothers can also pursue their incomplete dreams if any. Mothers can join a neighborhood club or support group.
Stay in Touch With Children
If you feel sad or lonely, share it with your children without making them feel guilty. You can tell them that you miss them. However, it is important to let the children know that they are an important part of your life. Mothers can call, video call, or email them whenever they miss them.
Seek Support
When you feel sad or depressed, share it with your loved ones. When children leave, it is a good time to bond with spouses or spend more time with them. Plan short trips, go on dates with them, or take a hobby class together. It is important to seek support from family. Mothers can share their feelings with other moms whose kids have moved out.
Be Positive and Move On
It is important to accept and move on. Children who leave home also come back during holidays or on important occasions. Mothers can shower their love on children when they visit them. Having said that, it is important for mothers to remain positive. She can read books, watch good movies or set a healthy routine. If your mom has empty nest syndrome, setting a good timetable can be beneficial. This way she can remain fit and she can also find a new purpose in life. She can add elements of meditation and exercises to help her mind and body stay fit.

Chapter 4:


Empty nest syndrome when there is a single child is very tough. Having lived with children for so many years, having a beautiful house with sounds of children running around and having a complete family is beautiful. It is normal to feel sad when all of this changes and the house becomes quiet. Over time the mother can get used to the quiet life and she will find purpose in other things. However, if you see that your mom shows no signs of moving on and is upset and depressed by the loneliness, you can get her professional help.

Depression can sometimes manifest in the form of social anxiety or chronic pain in mothers. Your mom can ignore social events as she feels she will be reminded of you. You can get her help. At Epsychonline, there are courses to cope with social anxiety for example DBT for Social anxiety. There are also articles on Empty nest syndrome. These courses and articles are written by experts. They can broaden your understanding of the condition. Do check them out.

"Very practical suggestions" Peter

95 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount