As a parent, it can be hard to watch your children grow up and move out to enjoy their own lives. Of course, you’ll be proud of their achievements, and you’ll want them to have a fulfilling life, but you’ll also be sad that they are leaving you behind. It really can be a bittersweet period of your life.
Although it will be difficult to deal with while it’s happening and perhaps for some time afterwards as you adjust to life without your child always being around you and needing you so much (although they will, of course, still always need you), there are some positive things to be gained from this new period of your life. It is possible to enjoy having an empty nest if you think about things in the right way. Read on to find out what we mean.
Embrace Your New Freedom
The first thing you should do once you find yourself in an empty-nester situation is to embrace your new freedom. This could be the first time in decades that you have had all the time you want to yourself, so why not use that to your advantage? You can use this time to do the things you always wanted to but never had the time for because of carpooling, children’s extracurricular activities, cooking for lots of people at various different times, and generally just being needed for anything at all – or potentially being needed, and essentially living your life as though you were on call.
Now that you’re not doing any of this, you can start to explore new activities and hobbies. Perhaps you want to learn how to paint, and you can now attend an evening class once or twice a week. Perhaps you like the idea of traveling more; when no one is relying on you at home, you can go where you want when you want. Or maybe you want to do something just for you to make you feel good, like going the gym or getting your teeth straightened with Invisalign. When you have all the time you need to make appointments and move forward with your idea, you can easily get it done and feel great. So what’s on your to-do list? When you have an empty nest, you can start ticking things off.
Reconnect With Your Partner
If you and your partner have drifted apart over the years, that’s not unusual. It happens a lot simply because other things – and in particular your children – can just take precedence. This might be necessary, but it can mean that your relationship suffers. You might not dislike one another, but you might not really make time for one another, either.
Once your children have moved out, it’s the ideal time to reconnect with your partner if you feel your relationship has lost its spark and you need some help to make it better. Start spending more time together. Find a hobby you both like. Eat together at the dining table or kitchen table and chat about your day. Always remember to kiss one another goodnight and tell your partner you love them.
It might be hard at first because you’ll both be missing the children and this might be all you can think to talk about. But the more you start interacting, the more places you go together, and the more things you do as a couple, will help you feel closer again.
Stay Connected With Your Children
Just because your children have left home, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of your relationship with them. As we mentioned above, your children will always need you, and it doesn’t matter if they are grown up with children of their own and they moved out of home many years ago – you’ll always be their parent.
By keeping in touch with your children after they move out, you can ensure they know that you are still there for them, no matter where they are or what they do. You’ll be their supporter and guide for a lifetime.
The key is not to push too hard. When young people first move out of home, they are likely to want to show everyone they can be as independent as possible, and the more you ask them if they need anything, the more they’ll say no and try to muddle through themselves. If, however, you check in on a regular basis (perhaps once a week) to see if all is well, they won’t feel so smothered, and your relationship will stay strong. Plus, they’ll be much more likely to ask for help, which will make both you and them happier.
Reimagine Your Space
When children leave home, it can be tempting to leave their bedrooms exactly as they had them. You might wonder if they will need to come back or if they might want the things they left behind at some point. However, although this is a natural thing to think about, and although it can be very hard to make changes to their old room, you should remember that this is your home and they have their own now, so why shouldn’t you change things if you want to?
Of course, if your child has only gone away to college and they’ll be home in the holidays, you may well want to leave their room alone as they are actually going to need it. However, if they have moved out into their own home, you could turn their room into a gym, a craft room, a library, a home office, or even a spare bedroom for paying guests through a business like Air B’n’B.
Once you have made the changes you want, it will be easier to accept that your child has moved out, as there will be fewer reminders of them around you. You can put the room to good use and really make the most out of your home.
Of course, it might be that the property you live in is now too big for just you or just you and your partner. In that case, another good idea to help you enjoy being an empty-nester a little more is to downsize. You can choose the exact property and location you want and save money in the process.