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Empty Nest For Single Moms. Challenges and Advantages

Updated: May 30


Cover pic - empty nest for single moms

Table of Contents

About the Author - Angela Caveney, Ph.D.


Introduction


Are you a single mom with an empty nest?


The term "Empty Nest Syndrome" is generally associated with parents who experience feelings of sadness or loss when their children grow up and leave home. Whereas this phenomenon is completely normal and commonly experienced by nearly all parents, the transition to empty nesting can be particularly difficult for single parents.


Many single parents face a unique set of challenges when their children move out of the family home. These challenges often go unnoticed or overlooked, particularly by married empty nesters, but they can have a significantly negative impact on the mental and emotional well-being of single parents.


BUT! There are advantages to being a single empty nester too! Read on to learn more.


What is Empty Nest Syndrome?

Empty nest syndrome refers to feelings of sadness, loss, and emptiness that most parents experience when a child leaves home. At this time, the parental role we've played for so many years suddenly changes, and we may feel a profound sense of loss, loneliness and uncertainty about our purpose moving forward.


To learn more about empty nest syndrome, including its signs and symptoms, its impact on our adult children and ways to cope, check out our article entitled Empty Nest Syndrome: From Surviving to Thriving in a Quiet House.


If you are an empty nester in need of some great laughs, inspiration and a bit of comfort, our Quotes For Empty Nesters article is also worth a peek. 

Challenges of an empty nest for single moms.

8 Challenges of an Empty Nest for Single Moms

Whereas many of the below challenges are not exclusive to single empty nest moms, they are commonly experienced to a more severe degree by single empty nesters than by their married counterparts.


1. Single empty nesting can be lonely

I call this, "Too Much Me-Time".


When your home turns from a bustling, loud, and sometimes chaotic space into a weirdly silent zen-like retreat overnight, as a single empty nester, you might find yourself missing the noise and feeling lonely.


(Read our article entitled, Empty Nester With No Friends, for some great info on how to find and cultivate new friendships.)


The silver lining? Get ready for long, uninterrupted baths and reading a book without someone asking where their socks are. It's a tough gig, but someone's gotta do it!


2. Many empty nest moms struggle with loss of identity

"Uhm...Who am I, again?"


Parents, especially single moms, often define themselves through their roles as parents. If you've spent years introducing yourself at parties as "Joe's mom", now, as an empty nester you may be at a loss for how to describe this person you see in the mirror. This could lead to a bit of an identity crisis as you struggle to redefine yourself.


But, don't worry, it happens to the best of us. Now, is your time to rediscover who you were before your name changed to "mommy," "mom," or (cringe)...the dreaded, "Bruh"!


3. A common complaint of single empty nest moms is loss of purpose

After the kids have moved out, single parents might feel an acute sense of loss of purpose in their lives. Single empty nester moms can sometimes find it particularly difficult to find a new sense of direction and source of meaning if raising children has been their primary focus for many years.


But fear not, although your two decades long mission of locating lost shoes, whipping up PB&Js at lightning speed and resolving sibling squabbles is complete, your new mission, should you choose to accept it, is to rediscover the exciting world of what you care about most, beyond your role as mother.


(Pro tip. When working with clients struggling with finding purpose during the empty nest transition, I typically recommend they start with the process of identifying their core personal values outlined in this article.)

Financial aspects of an empty nest for single moms

4. Financial stress for single empty nest moms is REAL

Absence of a supporting partner can put financial planning and retirement savings under great strain, and this is, sadly, still particularly common for empty nest single moms.


Whereas it's difficult to find the "lighter side" to financial stress, there ARE a few, new financial positives for the empty nest mom.


With the kids out of the house, you might be amazed at how long your groceries last now that you’re not feeding a small army.


And...who knew a box of cereal could last more than a day or a gallon of milk more than a few hours? You can now trade those bulk shopping trips for buying indulgent treats for yourself (that don’t mysteriously vanish immediately).


You can also say goodbye to those colossal utility bills with fewer lights left on, less water being used, and no more fights over the thermostat!


5. Some empty nest moms lack emotional support and social interactions

Single mothers with an empty nest may lack emotional support and someone with whom to share their feelings. Your social calendar, once bursting with your kids' soccer matches and ballet recitals, is now a ghost town.


It's like suddenly being the only audience member of your own tragicomedy, with no one to share the popcorn or chuckle at the funny parts with.


Making friends as an adult in midlife is not easy, but it is entirely possible. It's time to put in some effort and find new sources of support.


6. Empty nesting moms might have difficulty with letting go

Single empty nester moms may find it difficult to let their young adult children become fully independent, leading to over-involvement in their lives.


The birdies have flown the coop, but mom keeps building an irresistible nest - baking their favorite cookies, keeping their rooms just so, or over-involving herself in their distant lives.


This might be very satisfying and temporarily anxiety reducing for the empty nest single mom, but it can create an unhealthy dynamic.


It's time to let the fledglings fly!


7. New technology may be a challenge for empty nesting single moms

Keeping in touch with your adult children and trying to figure out all the latest tech gadgets (including your own TV) without your in-house tech support can be a challenge for an empty nester single mom.


You may also need to update your tech skills in order to keep up with the latest communication trends and engage with your adult children. Embrace this opportunity to learn and grow; it will not only help you stay connected with your kids, but also open doors for finding new interests and hobbies.


8. There may be a lack of career opportunities for single empty nest moms

Single empty nest moms who devoted much of their time to parenting may find it challenging to reenter the workforce due to outdated skills or lack of opportunities. However, this is also the perfect time to reinvent yourself professionally.


Think about it. You have survived the "I won't eat anything green" phase, navigated through teenage angst, and still managed to keep your household running smoothly ALL BY YOURSELF!!!. You're ready for just about anything the corporate world can throw at you!


Without realizing it, you have developed skills such as negotiation, crisis management, multitasking, and resource allocation; all while likely living on a tight budget. Quite frankly, you're overqualified for most jobs out there!


So, dust off that resume and add "Professional Mom" to your job history. The CEO of a fortune 500 company has nothing on you!

Advantages of an empty nest for single moms

10 Advantages of an Empty Nest for Single Moms

Embracing the empty nest phase as a single mom may come with its fair share of challenges, but it is also a season of rediscovery, growth, and empowerment. It's a chance to champion the art of self-love, independence, and new adventures.


1. Empty nest single moms have greater independence

This one is really important! As a single empty nester, you are able to make all of your own decisions without needing to consult or compromise with a spouse.


You have total freedom to (just a few examples):


  • Have relationships with anyone you want

  • Explore the world

  • Experiment with a new lifestyle.

  • Take up a new hobby

  • Walk around the house in your underwear all day

  • Eat ice cream for dinner without setting a bad example

  • Binge-watch your favorite shows without judgement or interruptions

  • Live anywhere, including downsizing to a smaller home or moving to a dream destination

  • Go back to school or pursue additional educational interests

  • Cook and eat whatever and whenever you want

  • Take on new work or career opportunities without the constraint of family responsibilities

  • Play your favorite '80s tunes on repeat as many times as you want!


2. Single empty nesters enjoy more personal time

As a single empty nester, you can dedicate whatever time you'd like to your long neglected (due to family commitments) self-development and personal interests.


With your increased personal time, you can (among other things):


  • Focus on your own fitness and nutrition goals

  • Volunteer and become more involved in your community

  • Prioritize self-care, relaxation and leisure activities

the peaceful side of an empty nest for single moms

3. Empty nest single moms have more flexible schedules

As a single mom with an empty nest, your schedule is entirely yours. You do what you want, when you want. There's no need to coordinate with a spouse's timetables or commitments.


Yes, you may have a job requiring you to be certain places and certain times doing certain things...but the choice to remain in that job is up to you.


4. Single empty nest parents have more space

Living alone, empty nest single moms have plenty of physical space at home, providing the perfect opportunity to redecorate or transform a spare room into a home gym, office, hobby room...or anything else your heart desires! (I know someone who converted much of her house into a haven for homeless cats.)


You might even find you have so much space that you decide to rent out a room for extra cash, or even sell your house and downsize to something that is perfect for just you.


5. Single empty nesters can have exciting new relationships 

Being a single empty nester opens up all kinds of possibilities for new romantic relationships and friendships.


While MANY still married empty nesters are struggling to "reconnect" with their partners, you're already off to the races and onto exciting new relationships.


You can make new friends or reconnect with old ones without worrying about the opinions or the social quirks of your partner.


6. Opportunities for self-discovery for single empty nest parents

With kids out of the house and no spouse, empty nesting provides an excellent opportunity for single moms to rediscover their interests and identities outside the context of a mother and wife.


There are nearly unlimited options! I've previously written extensively about empty nest hobbies, social hobbies and interesting hobbies for women in midlife.


7. Empty nest singles have total financial control

You may have less of it than dual earning households, but, as a single empty nester, the management of your money is solely your responsibility. This gives you the freedom to budget, save, and spend however you see fit.


8. There is less disorganization and housework in a single empty nest

Ah the joys of finding your keys right where you left them because no one has borrowed your car without asking! And...with fewer people in the house, there is less cleaning, cooking, and laundry to do.


It's amazing how easy it is to maintain a cleaner, more organized home when it's just you living in it.


You might actually miss cleaning.... Nah. That's crazy!

An empty nest for single moms can be relaxing

9. A single mom's empty nest can be a very peaceful environment

Remember those days when your bathroom sessions felt like public events, with kids pounding on the door and your spouse needing to discuss weekend plans? Well, those chaotic days are over!


Without the constant hustle and bustle of a family household, you can enjoy a serene and quiet home environment. Sip wine in the bathtub, read a book, or watch a movie without any interruptions.


Your home life feels like being on vacation. No packing needed!


10. Successful single empty nest moms are empowered!

I've left the most important advantage for last. Learning to successfully navigate the world as a single empty nest mom will absolutely cultivate a sense of self-confidence and empowerment.


You, and you alone, are in charge of your own happiness and well-being, making decisions for yourself without the influence or input of others. Embrace this newfound independence and take pride in being a strong, capable woman!


Final Thoughts

In my practice as a Clinical Psychologist, I've observed that the single empty nesting moms who most easily transition to the empty nest phase of life are those who have a clear idea of their core personal values, a solid social support system of friends and family and a sense of identity beyond their children.


I have also noticed that the other most common sources of joy and fulfillment for many empty nesters are their careers (Midlife is actually a great time to start your own business!), passions and hobbies and a general love of seeking out growth and new experiences.  


If you have one near you, social clubs, such as The Trybe Women's Social Club, have many benefits and provide fantastic opportunities to easily make new friends and discover new passions.


I cannot stress enough the importance of embracing this new chapter of your life with an open mind and adventurous spirit. The empty nest phase might seem daunting and lonely to the single empty nester, but with the right mindset and a proactive approach, it CAN be a time that is brimming with opportunities for personal growth and exploration.





About the Author

Angela Caveney, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist, Neuropsychologist and Founder of The Trybe Women's Social Club. Her absolute favorite things to do are to help women find their people, rediscover themselves and thrive throughout midlife. She can be reached directly at angela@the-trybe.com.


(*Note. If The Trybe Women's Social Club is not in your location, reach out to Dr. Caveney to start a conversation about creating a club where you live. Even if you don't know a single person in your new city, don't worry!  This is a great way to start to meet new people fast. We'll provide the framework to get you started.)


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