The Empty Nest

“Some people believe that holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength.  However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”    ~ Ann Landers

Are you looking forward to the day your children leave the nest, or are you at that stage of life already?  It’s a time that most parents alternately dread or look forward to.  You hope, as parents, that your children are prepared to face life on their own; however, secretly you may hope that they need you a little longer.  Your children, on the other hand, may be pulling away and making their own decisions, while as parents, you hold back from saying, “you need to rethink that” or, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”  It’s a challenging time from either point of view. has some interesting statistics on what empty nesters expect to occur.  For instance, 26% of potential empty nesters think that they will feel like newlyweds again; 34% expect to be closer to their spouses without the kids around. 58% indicate they’re ready for their kids to move out; 70% of dads are more ready than moms.  Ultimately, 40% of potential empty nesters think that their adult children will move back home in at some point.  On the other side, 30% of adult children expect their parents to move in with them later in life.

What’s an empty nester to do?

The short answer is, “Anything you want.”  There are so many options to pick from that you may want to spend time focusing in on a few at first, to avoid being overwhelmed and unable to make a choice.

Redecorating the kid’s room comes to mind.  There are many clichés about redoing the kid’s room once he or she leaves—an exercise room, a study/office, a hobby room, a new guest room, or a new bathroom—lots of options to pick from.  Maybe small changes are options at first, just in case the kids come back—fresh paint, new curtains, or new pillows.  Is that wishful thinking working overtime?  Maybe so, but at least don’t turn their former room into a shrine for the moment in time they left.  When they do visit, they don’t want to feel they’re 18 all over again.

Have you always wanted to travel?  Planning a long road trip coast to coast may be just the thing to break away from the family nest to see what’s around the bend.  Sharing the sights with family and friends back home and making new memories can be an invigorating, energizing experience.  Everyone needs that “once in a lifetime trip experience.”

Have you always dreamed of being a gourmet cook?  With the picky eaters out of the house, now’s the time to sign up for a class or two.  Try some new cuisines and broaden your taste palate.  With those new cooking skills in your arsenal, it’s time to entertain. Break out the good china and linens. Who’s going to use it if you don’t? Make dinner an event once in a while.

Volunteering at local agencies, groups, or the local rescue shelter are ways to keep busy, but they also provide a means to give back to the community. You’ll make new friends and find even more interests.

Take care of yourself for a change.  Take up an exercise routine.  You’ll need it to get your energy up for all your other activities!

Do empty nesters miss their children?  Certainly, but at the same time, they have many new things to share with their adult children, which, in turn, makes their children’s decision to leave the nest easier.   It’s a win-win.

Enjoy the nest when it’s full; plan and enjoy it when it’s empty!

“You see much more of your children after they leave home”~Lucille Ball




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