Adjusting to life with an empty nest can be challenging and a little scary, but there are steps you can take to thrive as you recalibrate your life.
Many parents dread the inevitable ‘empty nest.’ They fear their lives will become boring and uneventful as they pondering the question…
“What will we do now?”
As many parents know, there is never a dull moment when your children are still at home and there are soccer matches, spelling tests, school concerts, cake sales, birthday parties, and play dates. It almost seems an impossible task to fill that amount of time with anything else.
Yes, going to the movies and making dinner dates for you and your partner can be fun once or twice a week. What about the hundreds of other days in the year, and the year after, and the year after that?
But it’s possible to look at this time of your life as a gift just for you, something fun that you can explore and create in any way that is fun and brings joy to you.
6 steps for your post-empty nest life:
- Acknowledge yourself for the great job you have done as a parent — This is an important part of your new life. Many parents get stuck in the ‘lie’ that they should not be happy, that this is not a happy time to look forward to. Acknowledging yourself brings with it a sense of peace and fulfilment as you make the choice to focus on you and your future an easy one.
- Learn to live again —Recall the conversations you had with other parents about what you would be doing if you were not driving your children to school, or leading the afternoon carpool. This is where you can look at what you would like to start adding to your life.
- Re-ignite your relationship — If you are part of a couple, actively make more time for each other. Find the common things you both enjoy. There may have been hobbyies or a sport that you enjoyed and could no longer find the time for when your children came along. Discover what you both like to add. Talk about how you are different than you were before you had your children. Rediscover who you are as a couple while you look forward to the years ahead.
- Make a list of all the things you have always wanted to explore — This may be pottery, painting, golf, fishing or flower arranging. Perhaps there is a list of books you would like to read; maybe it’s booking a spot at the early morning yoga class that you’ve just been dying to go to. Or it could be visiting local places, such as the nursery that you might have driven past a hundred times while driving Johnny to cricket but you just didn’t have the time to stop and go in.
- Recognize each day is your day — Your time is no longer being shaped by the needs of others. Your list of things to do and places to go will quickly grow, leaving no room for you to slip into the question, “What do I do with all this time?”
- Be “kind” to you — Being kind to you is the willingness to be aware of what you require and giving that to yourself. When you are kind to you, everything seems to get better and your sense of joy increases.
If you want to inspire a new adventure each day, ask yourself these questions:
Who am I today?
This question allows you to check-in with yourself. You may wake up in the morning thinking you still have to do the drive to school, or pack a lunch box, but asking this question reminds you that things are different and that you are different. It also invites you to explore the possibilities you have for the day.
What can I add to my life and living today?
This question allows you to become consciously aware of what you would like to add to your life. This question also invites the possibilities of adventure and exploration into your day by stopping you from looking for things to do.
If you find yourself on any particular day where the space seems just too vast, just take two steps and breathe.
You may also enjoy reading Tips for Creating a Mindful Space at Home by British Solomon