From Full House to My House: Becoming an Empty Nester

BY GUEST BLOGGER KRISTEN DAUKAS

I remember last fall, a couple months after my youngest had moved into her own apartment, feeling completely out of sorts. I was wandering through my days and nights feeling some sort of funky, and I didn’t know why. My business was doing well. All three girls were thriving in their new environments. I felt as good as a normal menopausal woman can feel, so what was wrong with me? And, then it hit me like a ton of bricks – I was an empty nester, and while that brings its own fun and rewards, it also meant a very significant part of my life was done. I was no longer a full-time, active-duty parent. What had once been a leading role was now whittled down to a recurring part. And, apparently, it was hitting me harder than I ever thought it would.

As parents, no one really prepares us for this stage, or it’s met with visions of champagne toasts and burning rubber to some exotic vacation. And, while there are a lot of positives to it, it definitely takes some adjustments to go from a house of five to a house of two plus a bunch of pets. If you’re getting ready to wave off your last child or already have, here are some suggestions for navigating this next chapter of your life!

Embrace the Change

The departure of your children can seem daunting, but it’s also an invitation to a new chapter of life. It’s natural to feel a mix of emotions, but remember, this phase is not about being left behind, it’s about embracing new opportunities. So, take a deep breath, shake off the fear and get excited about what might come next. You have earned this freedom!

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

You’ve spent years nurturing others; now it’s time to nurture your own interests. Always wanted to speak Italian? Sign up for a language course. Dreamed of doing a headstand in yoga? Now’s the time. Try something you’ve always wanted to do. Learning and experiencing new things will keep your mind active and your spirit young.

Reconnect With Yourself

As an empty nester, you have the luxury of time. Use it to rediscover yourself. Revisit old hobbies or explore new passions. Read that book you’ve been putting off. Start that painting project. Run that marathon. This is the perfect time to prioritize yourself and do what makes you happy.

Reconnect With Friends

Over the years, you may have lost touch with friends or found it hard to make new ones. Now, you have the chance to reconnect. Plan brunches, movie nights, concerts or even simple game nights at home. Surrounding yourself with friends will fill your home with laughter and your heart with warmth.

Redecorate Your Home

With your kids away, your home might feel a little too quiet. Why not give it a fresh makeover? Transform that unused bedroom into a cozy reading nook or a vibrant art studio. Redecorating can be therapeutic and help you create a space reflecting your personality and style.

Travel Somewhere New

Traveling is a fantastic way to broaden your horizons and experience new cultures. Choose a destination from your bucket list and take the plunge. It could be a neighboring state or an exotic country. Exploring new places will stimulate personal growth and discovery, adding a whole new layer to this exciting phase of life.

You’ll enjoy the journey no matter what you decide to do in your newfound freedom. Make sure to take time to appreciate the simple moments and be open-minded to new opportunities. Don’t forget to pause and take in the beauty of your physical and mental surroundings. And, remember – those kids will be back to visit, and you’ll quickly realize that newfound peace and quiet really IS nice!

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