Children flown, new home, coping with builders, being a carer,
husband often absent....
At the beginning of the year we moved from the home we lived in
for 27 years and crossed the country to be close to my father-in-law
who is alone and now rather frail. Two of our three children are at
University and one is working in London.
The house we have now is still being renovated. This means the
workmen are in almost every day, we still don't have any central
heating and the walls await the plasterer.
I'm told there's a thriving community here, but unfortunately
some of the things I would be interested in joining are at times when
I do my part-time job. And I need to look in on father-in-law every
other day as well. I'm very fond of him, but I find I'm getting short
tempered with him when he tells me how lonely he feels and how hard
everything is. This always happens just as I prepare to go home.
Overseeing the building work also falls to me most of the time
as my husband is away on business during the week. Although he is
nearing retiring age – and I'm not far behind – he doesn't feel ready
to stop the work he enjoys.
My problem is that I don't think I am coping very well with all the
change. I was so excited at the prospect of being in a lovely part
of the countryside that we know so well, having a house which will be
a dream when it is renovated, having a garden that I'm itching to get
at once the builders rubble is out of the way - and looking forward to
my husband taking some time to share it all with me.
What I appear to have is all the hassle and discomforts but
none of the rewards. I can't even feel pleased when the children come
to see us as I want to prepare things for their arrival and make them
welcome, but the home is still too unfinished. They say when they
leave that they are "going home now". It cuts me to the quick. We have
moved out of the house they knew as home and this one is "your place"
when they speak of it.
We have been working so hard to get it all finished by Christmas
and I'm not sure it will be now. I wanted it to be our first family
Christmas all together as adults in this house to mark all the changes
the family have gone through.
On top of that I just feel perhaps we made a mistake. I am so
worn out by it all. The wintry weather makes me feel so negative about
everything but I can't keep ringing my old friends in the place we
used to live for support. I don't sleep well any more so everything is
becoming a bit depressing.
Sandy's problems, ones that affect many of us, seem to have hit her
all at once, so it's hardly surprising that she is feeling
overwhelmed. What can she do?
Loss: When the children leave
home, we want them to be happy, successful, healthy, independent.
But sometimes, when they are, it seems so hard to adjust from being
their central pillar. If they are ok then they have found their own
life and we have done our job as parent very well. But boy do we
miss them. We never stop being a parent and will always want to be
involved in our children's lives, but, Sandy, they must move on,
take on other important relationships and make homes of their own.
Home: It won't matter to the
children where you live once they have settled into their own lives.
It is you they come to see and need to see.
Making things perfect: As parents
we try hard to welcome the children and want to make their visit
perfect. You must try to resist this. The children will be soon
reaching a stage when they begin to offer help back. It is hard to
accept if you still see them as your little ones, but a joy when you
see them as strong caring and capable adults who you helped make
It sounds as though he reflects your
own sadness, loss and loneliness. And perhaps that's why you are
unable to give him support as you yourself feel so vulnerable and
depleted at the moment.
What can be done? Try putting in
a firmer boundary regarding visits. "Let's talk some more about that
tomorrow when I've got more time Dad," can be warmly offered as a
response as you leave, knowing he is unable to disconnect from you.
It offers him reassurance that he still matters and that you will be
back, but it is also taking care of yourself, making sure you are
not too drained by trying to attend to his troubles.
You need to talk about these problems
together. I get the feeling that you are trying not to worry
him, but if he isn't aware he can't help.
Over the weekend, ask him to sit with
you as you have something important to discuss. Say you'd like
him to just listen to begin with as you need his help. This might be
hard: you might find it difficult to ask for help from anyone – you
are a 'doer and giver'. Well, you are feeling the effects of what
happens when this gets too much.
If our partner is regularly away for
days at a time it can feel as though there is no cushion, no
comfort, no relief from the concerns that pre-occupy us. Tell him
how you feel about the chaotic state of things at home
you feel you are left to sort everything alone
it is being taken for granted that you will deal with all of the
it doesn't feel fair that you take on sole care of his father
tell him it would be a great help if he was at home a little more
in order to deal with the builders
ask him if he could even take some time to be with his father –
his father - once a week. How his dad would love that and
feel important again to his own son.
4. Your health
It is amazing what the weather does
to us. On sunny days our energy level is so much higher. Listen
to what your body is telling you. We naturally want to hibernate in
We are taking in less vitamin D from
sunlight, so try a vitamin supplement rich in D and C or find
extra in your diet to boost your energy.
A warm milky drink just before
retiring could help improve sleep, and there are plenty of
gentle herbal remedies in health food shops that help promote a good
night's sleep without side effects.
Don't underestimate the power of
change, even if it is looked forward to and wanted. You have
spent all of your married life so far in one place. Now that is
different and the family have flown the nest.
You will be feeling that loss and
displaced until this house is completed and how you want it to
be. We all want to put our mark onto our new homes and garden. Get
out there into little bits of garden that are untouched by builder's
rubbish and bond with it.
What is more, the builders need to
remove the rubbish. Your garden is not their dumping ground even
if they do still need a small temporary area. You can take control
and will feel good about it.
Start collecting cuttings from
magazines for a scrapbook of things you want for your garden. It
is a lovely winter activity and will help you feel you are making
Think about how you will decorate
your home and look at cuttings to get ideas for furnishing it.
Building a new nest is wonderfully creative for many people.
Has anyone in the family told you
what an excellent job you've done coping with such massive
changes virtually single handed? If not, then gently remind them in
a humorous way – without making them feel guilty.
Have the family at home for Christmas, ask each do some of the
preparation and enjoy that celebration - finished or not. You