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How to have fun when all the kids have left home – Bunmi Sofola

~Vanguard Nigeria. Sunday, November 5, 2017.

Do you feel lost and lonely now that your children have flown the nest? Are you strangely missing the piles of dirty washing and the blaring of music or are you too busy turning a grotty bedroom into a cozy study, where you can relax in the afternoon with refreshments and a magazine? Or, are you thinking of letting part of the house for some easy cash?

New research has revealed that in order to cope with empty-nest syndrome, many parents are giving their homes a make over soon after their youngsters move out. Almost 30 per cent start renovating within two months of their children leaving, according to a survey carried out by Zurich Insurance, a third redecorate their child's old room, while the same number go further and transform it into a study or holiday room. Some even revamp the whole house.

So what makes people quick to reach for their paintbrushes once their kids go off to university or set up home with friends or a partner? More than half of those who took part in the survey said they wanted to reflect the change in family life. Experts agree that after years of children drawing on the walls and leaving dirty plates under beds, many parents are happy to have the chance to make their homes their own again.

"Children may well bully their parents into letting them redecorate their own rooms and even other parts of the house," says Philliop Hodson, a counselling psychotherapist. Some parents lose part of their identities. They have to wait a long time to get their house back. Then they can make it smarter. Renovating can help parents rediscover their identities.

Once a child's bedroom is yours again, it's natural to want to mark your territory. There's an itch to get in there and sort it all out. It's like moving into a new house. Even if it's been beautifully decorated, you still want to change things to make it yours. However, in some cases, there may be another reason why parents get the urge to decorate. You may be trying to fill time because you're missing the children. But what if your son or daughter wants to move back in? Will they be happy to sleep in the couch because their room is now for worship?

"Children are likely to feel disappointed when the house is not their childhood home any more." Says Hodson: "They might feel a bit hurt and pushed out and think that you couldn't wait to be rid of them. Does that mean you should restrain yourself from covering the black walls in your son's bedroom with brighter paint? Not really. As parents, you have to get on with your own lives, so you shouldn't be sentimental. When your child moves out, explain that there will always be a room for them-but it will be the guest room."

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