The thought of your children leaving the home can be daunting. This may be the first time in 18 or more years that you’ve had an empty nest. As a parent, you’ve spent years raising your children and now it’s time for them to fly on their own. Luckily, becoming an Empty Nester doesn’t have to be scary – it should actually be freeing and exciting! You now have less responsibilities and more freedom to explore and grow in new ways like never before. Here is some advice I’ve gathered over the many years of speaking with empty nesters (and now being one myself) who’ve faced challenges and successes as they make the transition. I hope you’ll find that, with the right mindset, you can thrive in this new chapter of life.
1. Stay Active
When you finally slow down from the years of hustle and bustle parenting, you may find it easy to fall into an inactive lifestyle. As much as you deserve some rest and relaxation, it’s important to build in activities both physically and mentally to keep your body and mind in tip top shape. Going hiking, trying a new recipe, investigating a new workout class and picking up a new hobby can all be great ways to stay active in this new phase of life. Watching TV and eating out are fine in moderation but be sure to build in healthy habits early on. Your future body and mind will thank you.
2. Consider Moving to a New Area
You may be saying to yourself, “there is no way that I’d ever consider leaving this area or home” but stay with me. You’ve potentially spent many years in the same state, same town, and same home while raising your children to provide stability. Now’s just might be the time to break loose and try something new. At a minimum, travel to new places, take weekend trips, enjoy extended stays in Airbnbs at places you’ve always thought were interesting. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy a different area of the country and if after trying new places out you find that nothing peaks your interest, you’ve solidified your decision to stay where you are.
3. Build Community
One of the most important all-around pieces of advice I could give to anyone that is moving into a new phase of life including Empty Nesters, is to find community. Whether that is through a church, club, organization, Facebook group, class or simply sharing a meal on a regular basis with some friends, taking a step out of your comfort zone to meet new, like-minded people who are in your same stage of life is key. They understand what you are going through and can provide valuable advice or simply be there for you when you need it. We weren’t created to live life alone and in isolation, especially in pivotal life stages.
4. Stay in Touch with Your Children
Regardless of where your children are going next, it’s important to stay in touch and be there when they need it. Remember that they are in a totally new life stage as well so you both will likely face challenges along the way. Give them space to learn and grow on their own (you didn’t spend 18+ years raising them to be attached at your hip forever) but make an effort to keep in touch over text, phone calls, facetimes, etc. to let them know you are here for them when they need you. Understand that your children are onto great things and you have supported them getting there. It’s time for them to begin the journey for themselves with you as the cheerleader.
5. Find Your Next Purpose
As an Empty Nester you may feel as though a portion of your purpose has been taken away when your children left the home. It’s common to feel this way, especially for parents who stayed at home with their kids over the years, however, it’s important to know that your role isn’t going away but only changing. You are still a crucial part of your children’s lives and will support them as they transition as well. Trust me, they will want your advice on everything from insurance options to their favorite recipes of yours. Outside of your parental role, it’s important to find purpose in other ways. I like to call this the “encore” season of life because you get to do more of the things you enjoyed such as volunteering for a cause you care about, investing in young children at church, or even serving as a mentor mom at a moms ministry. No matter what you spend your newfound energy and time on, you now have the opportunity for meaningful activities that add value to your life and the lives of others. You have a wealth of life experience that others can benefit from!
There is so much possibility in the empty nest season of life. Look at it through the lens of abundance rather than loss to make the best of this unique season! And if you need some help with that, check out the Empty Nest Full Life Course. I created it just for you!