“It’s quiet here!” It is the phrase often said by mothers whose children are about to flee. The feelings that accompany the end of the family stage are sweet and bitter. On the one hand, there is a new phase of life with more time for your own needs, marriage or partnership, friendships and hobbies. There is room for plans again, including career plans. Expectation, freedom, renunciation.
But it also causes stomach ache for many mothers. For about 20 years of their lives, they often consider it their most important task to give their children a loving home. But when it’s the stage they’ve been working on for so long – the kids go their own way – a void comes in.
Even during pregnancy, the role of the mother is often the highest priority in life. And then this continues in everyday life with the children – by the way, regardless of whether the mother works, works on the farm, or works “only” for the children.
When kids go their own way, there can be a void.”
Learning exams, trips to the choir, football, appointments, preparations for each new school year, encouraging, correcting, comforting and supporting the daily lives of mothers. Just creating a comfortable home for the children, providing them with food and clothes of the right size is a huge task.
With all the responsibility and all the unexpected difficulties involved, most moms are happy to do so. It also gives structure and meaning to their lives. Personal needs are secondary for many years – a yoga class is postponed for a parent’s evening and a coffee talk with friends is canceled because the child is sick.
Some readers ask themselves: What about parents? Answer: It has been shown that, even in young families, the majority of so-called family care and work still rests with women. They are also responsible for the mental effort of observing all children and their appointments. Their lives change markedly when children are born. The gap increases as care work decreases.
And now what?
Of course, it is also a personal matter whether one looks forward to the new stage of life. Some do it well. “I accompanied the children intensely,” says a 53-year-old farmer. “Now I can leave things and switch to other things.” According to studies, the transition is easier if the women are already working during the family stage.
For others, “retirement” in your early 50s doesn’t look good. For one thing, it’s hard to suddenly look at yourself again after years. The profession you learned after a long absence may seem strange or no longer offer any possibilities.
In addition, some also feel sad about the lost moments with their children. Unbaked buns, occasional impatience and unread books weigh heavily on our conscience. And by the way, this feeling often bothers parents who were very busy at work during the family stage and spend little time at home.
Is it time for something new?
But when exactly does the “empty nest” moment come? This is very different. It can happen when the middle son goes abroad for a year or the eldest daughter moves into her student apartment. This may also awaken the feeling of missing something in his youth. On the other hand, many women cannot name a specific moment when a quiet home began to bother them. Feeling slowly crept in.
Others do not know him at all – on the contrary. They were relieved when the active part of parenthood ended. I miss the day the kids will finally come out of Mama’s Hotel. Because some young people sometimes need a push to leave the nest.
But there are also many reasons why women should not re-orient themselves again. Children with disabilities and children in need of care in adulthood require long-term support. Especially on farms, for some, caring for the elderly in need of care follows right after the children are out. Then care is required all their strength.
Restrictions in your health or a serious illness of your partner can delay departure for new beaches. On farms, transitions are also more fluid: sometimes, at the same time as the last child leaves, the first grandchildren are in families, whom people who plan time are happy to take care of.
back to marriage?
The end of the family stage also changes the relationship between the spouses. Time for togetherness and activities as a couple has always been a precious commodity. Conversations between spouses often revolved around organizational matters – and of course – children. Now there are concerns about whether you still have something to say to each other or whether the topics of conversation on your first vacation go live. Divorces after the silver wedding anniversary are no longer uncommon.
But after a period of “meeting,” many couples see the time after the kids as a gift. “Your dad and I’m really fine” is a sentence many kids have heard.
We spoke to several women for this post. Everyone says it took them a few tries to find a satisfying task. They also talk about setbacks. The coronavirus pandemic has upset plans, too. Some returned to their old jobs, others became more involved in the company, setting up branches of the company or even their own companies. But many are also happy to spend more time with their partners, friends, neighborhood or hobby. Some do voluntary work.