My younger son is in college, so here we go with the dreaded Empty Nest Syndrome. After twenty-five years of diapers, Legos, birthday parties, soccer games, band concerts, family vacations then proms, suddenly all that activity grinds to a halt. No more last-minute cookie requests. No more hearing the night before an assignment is due, “Mom, I need a poster board.” And no more sweaty, soccer socks and cleats taken off in the car making my eyes water.
I admit, I was the typical mother dropping off the child at college then crying all the way home. I cried whenever I walked past their empty rooms and waited every day for their call or text to make sure they were eating and getting their sleep. But by the time they were home for Christmas and I could see they were healthy, getting good grades and making mature decisions – I forced myself to relax. My husband and I raised two wonderful sons who are confident and will make good lives for themselves.
I don’t have to ‘hover’ over them constantly anymore. I can sit back and enjoy hearing their news and accomplishments and be there whenever they have questions or need a pep talk after a bad day or disappointment.
I’m so proud of them that I can enjoy this time for myself without guilt.
Here are 6 things I would recommend:
- Get a pet or two – If you are feeling unneeded, the best thing to do is to get yourself a pet buddy. Be sure to select the best pet for your lifestyle and that you can commit yourself to the life of that pet.
- Take up a hobby – usually with work and all the activities that come with children prevent you from too many hobbies. We’ve all said, ‘That’s something I’d like to try when I have more time.’ Well, now is the time. I have my puzzles, books to write and creating miniatures. I may even get out my cross stitch projects again.
- Rediscover your love life – Use this time to rekindle or increase your love life. Weekend trips can feel like mini-honeymoons without all the kids jumping on the beds and demanding supper.
- Volunteer or get involved with a charity – find a worthy cause that interests you and then get involved. Volunteer hours at a thrift store, use your accounting talents to help children organizations or serve on the board of a nonprofit cause. Being involved with people and/or children can fill some lonely hours.
- Read more books – With an empty nest, you will have some extra time to read more books. Read in the bathtub without kids yelling outside the door, read in the evening since there is no more homework to do and read on a rainy afternoon before taking a snooze on the couch.
- Go naked whenever you want 🙂 – That’s right, you can now lounge around and do housework totally nude, if you want. As long as you don’t answer the door or dance in front of a large living room window no one will know but you. Revel in your new-found freedom.
So, let’s hear from other empty nesters. What keeps you sane during this adjustment period?