After you send your last child off to school, wipe away the tears, and come to terms with their impending adulthood, it’s time to think about what you’ll do with your empty nest. What will you do with your new-found free time and space? Here are some ways to ease (and celebrate) the transition to an empty-nester lifestyle.
Find things that you’re passionate about
Many empty nester parents realize that since the kids were born, every bit of the family’s resources has been focused on their upbringing. Now that they are occupied with their own lives, spend some time exploring: what brings you happiness? What hobbies are you curious about trying, or maybe picking up again after a long break? Have you been longing to have a craft room, or more time to go fishing with your friends? Now is the time to try out new pursuits.
Balance rest and exercise
Watching the kids growing up isn’t always easy. Make sure that you get both enough sleep, during regular night hours, as well as exercise. If you aren’t already in the habit of working out, you might start by going for walks with a friend or your spouse to get your body accustomed to exercise. Finding a good balance of quality sleep and movement will keep your health and mood on the upswing.
Plan travel time
Taking vacations with the whole family in tow can be fun, but it can also limit your options. Take time with your spouse or a good friend to envision what kind of travel piques your interest, and start planning. South America? A road trip across the country in an RV while you listen to the ultimate playlist? A week at a secluded lake with no kids to answer to? Maybe invite another couple or a few friends who are also empty-nesters and go in on a timeshare that will guarantee good vacation opportunities for years to come. With so many options, you could plan out a lot of possible adventures and choose later!
Rekindle your romance
Nothing like a house all to yourselves to invite reconnecting to your romance. Make time to go out on dates, schedule one “tech and TV-free” night a week that is dedicated to just spending time together, and really get to know one another again. A lot can happen and change over the course of raising children! You might even consider combining romance and travel by attending a couple’s retreat, focused on enriching your relationship. Keep an open mind.
Stay in touch
There’s no doubt your child will be busy, but making a scheduled time to connect via Skype or FaceTime can help you to feel connected and keep you from worrying. Let your child know how important it is that you hear from them – not because you want to know every detail about their progress, but because you care about how they are transitioning. Keep it light, you’re entering that phase of becoming their friend!
Seek support if you need it
This transition can feel more intense for some people than others. If you or your spouse notice you’re feeling depressed, anxious, or generally not coping well, seek support from a professional. Life transitions can require some extra perspective to process well, and there’s no shame in having someone to talk to about the struggle.