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How I deal with my empty nest

Peris Wanjiku lost her husband in 2011. Her last born left home in 2013. Now, Peris lives alone and has found ways to fill her days

Grace Wachira @yaa_grace

Peris Wanjiku Macharia and her late husband put up a three-bedroomed house for their family; it was their dream family home, where they thought they would grow old together. But as fate would have it, her husband passed on seven years ago.

Peris at the time had her last two children, Peter and Njambi who lived with her as they went through campus. “Even though they stayed in their hostels, they came home when the schools closed and I had them around. They gave me company,” she smiles.

That was until they completed campus, started working and charted their own paths. Her daughter Njambi, was the last to leave the nest in 2013. “For five years, I feel like I have acres of room to myself.

My routine is pretty simple. I wake up, go about my construction business throughout the day, attend church activities if there are any, such as home cell fellowships and then visit my grandchildren once in a while,” she says.

She admits it is tough living alone. “I get lonely and the fact that I do house chores for myself is tough. I would prepare a lot of food, but at the end of it, it easily goes bad,” she laughs.

The once busy TV room is now where she stores her shoes. “I only use one seat in the house now and I go for days before entering some of the rooms. When they come around, which is rare, they complain about my empty fridge,” she laughs.

Her children aged 34, 32 and 30 have very busy lives. “Everyone is working hard to provide for themselves and my sons have their own families to deal with. If anything, I am the one who does most of the visiting,” she laughs as she shows me pictures of her recent visit to Nakuru to see her latest grandchild. “My grandchildren are the ones that fill my days.

Sometimes, I go over to see them and they love having me around just as much as I love hanging out with them,” beams the 52-year-old.

Fortunately, her mother and her second son and his family live close by. “After I am done with my work, I visit my mother. She is my best friend. She is the one that I confide in when I am lonely or when I need someone to talk to about my problems like money, among others.

And when I do, I eat while at it so I do not cook so much. I mean, I cannot say no to food knowing I will go back to struggle for just one stomach,” she says.

“I thank God for my friends whom I get to see almost on a regular basis while attending fellowship and any other church activities. I never miss out on them; they keep me busy,” the devout Christian affirms.

Over time, she has developed another hobby. “Apart from playing with my grandchildren, I love watching soap operas. Right after, I watch the news, I watch a soap and then call it a night. The nights are silent, but I thank God for them,” she says.   

Dr Philomena Ndambuki, a family expert, says when a parent has the nest to themselves, it is important to find an activity to do. “Sometimes, it requires that they immerse themselves in their work. It is advisable to get friends you can confide in and keep your days busy,” she says.

It is also good to stay positive. “There is something called positive self-talk. That means they keep talking to themselves about life, and reassuring themselves that they have not been abandoned,” she says.

One of the main mistakes many people make when dealing with an empty household is attempting to navigate the new environment alone. Instead of trying to remain strong on your own, it’s important to seek the support of your family members and friends.

Dr Ndambuki adds technology has helped keep tabs with family members. “A family Whatsapp group can help check on each other as well us updating one another on how life is faring. However, the children ought to regularly check up with their parents and once in a while visit them,” she concludes.

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