For the last week my house has been alive with family. My kids and grand kids all converged. We went to the beach, had cookouts, baked cookies, and watched funny movies. I was in heaven.
And now? They left and I’m down. The house is too quiet. I don’t want to do anything. I try to fight the feelings. I tell myself to buck up but all I can think about it how much happier I was last week.
I know I could move to be closer to them. It’s something we’ve talked about. But then I’d have to start building my life all over again. My life here is good.
But I always have this let down after they leave. Are there any short cuts I can take to get back on track faster?
Temporarily Lonely Grammy
Oh, I know the feelings you have described! Just like you, I’m in heaven when the house is full of my precious family. Then the morning arrives when they all leave. Is there anything more annoying than a deadly quiet house?
Here are a couple of things you might find beneficial:
Ironically, trying to “fight” this natural reaction to your family’s departure can be counter-productive. Now may not be the time to ‘buck up’. Instead, give yourself permission to feel funky for a day or two. This may actually shorten the time you feel down.
Over the next couple of days, enjoy a little self-indulgence and be lazy. In part, this is to take care of yourself emotionally but there’s something else at play here, the natural fatigue that comes with hosting a brood. No matter how helpful family members are, you were in Go-Go-Go mode for a week. When we’re tired it’s common to feel more down. Focus on getting your energy back up to normal and your mood will follow suit.
After a couple of days of being kind to yourself (!) think about connecting with people. Plan a walk with a neighbor, have lunch with someone you like, make a phone call to a long distance friend. Fill your life up again with people you care about. The quicker you are able to get back to your ‘good’ life, the quicker you will feel better.
The next time they are due to visit, sit yourself down and face the reality of this emotional roller coaster. Knowing it exists, try to plan activities for the time immediately following their departure. Have dinner with a friend the night they leave. Schedule an outing for the first day your house is empty again. This will soften your transition to an empty house.
Here’s one more funny little thing I do when I catch myself thinking about my empty house. Get this, I think about the pioneers. Heck, they left their families and never saw each other again! That’s when I send a kid a text, an email, or pick up the phone because unlike our ancestors, we’re fortunate to have some choices about how to stay connected with our families.