Back at the end of February, we loaded the car and headed north, carrying our youngest's gear up to her new flat in Manchester. It felt like a bit of a rushed move due to her work commitments, and I don't think the enormity of it had sunk in with any of us.
March passed in a blur , by the beginning of April I decided things had to change though now, looking back on the month, I realise they didn't. I was so unprepared for this new empty nest phase, but it was only when reading my daughter's blog posts on the same subject that I understood how badly I was coping.
In a series of posts my daughter has been talking about this new phase of life from her perspective, the problems encountered and how she's starting to overcome them. It's nice to know she's starting to feel settled and learning how to cope with her new responsibilities BUT it highlighted the fact that I'm not!
As a long-term stay-at-home mum, my life has revolved around my daughters, with routines dictated by their needs - from afternoon naps, to school run, or taxiing to the station. When my elder daughter left home, I still had a small child to look after, so I didn't notice this emptiness. This time round, things are very different. What I've realised is that without anyone (ie my youngest daughter) checking up on how I'm living my life, I've dropped into some lazy habits. You'd think having a husband around would make a difference, but men don't notice that inch of dust building up in a corner, or the ever-growing ironing pile (or, at least, mine doesn't), and see ready meals and takeaways as just a convenience rather than a lack of enthusiasm for cooking.
So, I'm going to take some advice from my daughter. Her post about What Is and Isn't Self-care made me acknowledge that basically I'm just slobbing about. High and Low Level Adulting had me thinking that I'm going about things back to front, avoiding the basics but trying to do the clever stuff. I have no real NEED to get up and about in the mornings, so I frequently get up late and waste an hour or so on social media before doing anything. I spend a lot of time looking at holiday sites - AirBnB, Canopy and Stars, anything that includes the word 'glamping' - even though I know that realistically I can't take holidays this year because of my parents' health. My staycation days out, while fun and at times a necessary bit of relaxation, are just procrastination tactics. Basically I think I'm looking for distractions to fill the daughter-shaped hole in my life, but going about it the wrong way. From now on, there'll be no more leaving the housework till I'm expecting a visitor, I'll re-apply myself to book blogging (which I've shamefully let drift) and try to discover what I want to do with my life for the next twenty or so years ...
If anyone has any helpful ideas on how to get through these first few awkward months, please share them!