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Parental guidance: Empty nest syndrome

"Fun Without Dick and Jane" advises parents on

"Fun Without Dick and Jane" advises parents on how to enjoy life in the empty nest. Credit: Handout

Q. I recently dropped my child at college and am having trouble adjusting. Do you have any suggestions?

A. "I think people are forgetting how much fun the next chapter of your life can be," says Christie Mellor of Los Angeles, author of the new book "Fun Without Dick and Jane: Your Guide to a Delightfully Empty Nest" (Chronicle Books, $14.95). She recommends having an affair -- with yourself. Here's how:

* List the things you've been putting off because you were so busy. Take a cooking class, learn to play a musical instrument, go back to college. "Just don't think about going to the same college as your kid," Mellor jokes.

* Plan a trip. Maybe you want to go to Spain or Hawaii, or live for two weeks on a boat. "Sometimes, planning is half the fun of doing it," Mellor says. Bonus: You don't have to travel during school vacations (read: expensive season) anymore.

* Relax. "Dare to do nothing," Mellor says. Enjoy the quiet., a national parenting website, also offers an Empty Nest Survival Guide. Some tips from that site:

* Send a care package. Fill it with your child's favorite foods and mementos from home.

* Continue to see parents you connected with through your child. Missing out on those friendships can compound the loss you're feeling.

* Do you feel sad every time you pass your child's empty bedroom? If so, keep the door closed.

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