Louise Minchin on empty-nest syndrome

PUBLISHED: 00:00 05 February 2020

Louise Minchin

Louise Minchin


With one daughter now away at university, Louise admits nothing had prepared her for life at home with one less family member.

It has been nearly six months since my daughter Mia went to university and I am still getting used to her not being around. I had an inkling I would miss her when she moved out, but the impact it has had on me has taken me by surprise.

I had no idea that not having her cheerful presence at home, even with the extra mountains of washing, ironing, chaos, mess and thumping music shaking the house when I was trying to sleep would make me feel lost without her.

I am not completely naive and have read about empty-nest syndrome and have heard friends talk about their children moving out as being a tough time, but I imagined, given that it was just a normal part of parenthood, and she was going on to do something she really wanted to, it would be fine. I was excited for her; I had loved my years as a student and hoped she would too. Anyway, I wouldn't have an empty nest, as thankfully Scarlett is still at home, so why would it be a problem?

But it wasn't nearly as easy as I had anticipated. There was a particular moment during Mia's first week away, that it dawned on me I hadn't prepared at all for the void of her not being at home. I came back from work one morning and, as I always do, called up to her room to ask her to join me and walk the dogs. The deafening silence reminded me she wasn't there and I realised with a heavy heart that I was going to have to get used to walking on my own without her chatting alongside me.

Six months on, I am still adapting to the new reality and am getting used to the morning dog walks on my own and to the uneasy feeling that there is someone special missing from the house.

Thankfully, unlike when I was at university at St Andrews, 500 miles from home, when mobile phones and email didn't exist, these days technology means it is much easier to be in touch. I feel very lucky that FaceTime means I can actually see her when we chat, and I still secretly hang onto the hope she will be part of the boomerang generation, and will come back home once the studying is over.

In the meantime, I will have to prepare myself better for the fact she probably won't.

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