Part 2: Thriving vs. Surviving the Empty Nest
The tough part of becoming an empty nester is over! You have already taken a ride on that not so fun emotional roller coaster after launching your child out of the nest and into the world. Now that you are learning how to deal with the hole left in your home and in your heart, it is time to focus on the positive. It’s time to focus on you and things that make you happy.
Appreciate the Additional Time You Have
Remember those long and hot days of sitting in the stands, cheering your child on as they competed in a sporting event. Remember those mornings where you had to get up super early to take your child to their game, but they had to be there five hours before the game started (it seemed like five, anyway.) Yes, you enjoyed watching your child perform and wouldn’t trade that time for anything, but the fact is, they are now out of the house and the time that you spent taking them places, helping with projects, doing their laundry, watching their sporting events… you get this time back.
I chose to continue my education when I became an empty nester. Your new normal includes additional time that you didn’t have before. Whether it is education, volunteering, a new exercise routine, or picking up a new hobby, appreciate that time and take advantage of it!
Do What You Want, When You Want to Do It
Did you ever choose what to cook for supper according to what you knew the kids would like and would be happy to eat? Now, you get to experiment more with your cooking and make the dishes that you want to try. Spontaneity can become an exciting reality. Nothing planned this weekend? Take a trip with your spouse to a place you’ve always wanted to visit. Feeling amorous all of the sudden? Have sex in any room in the house. It’s your house again….go ahead and run across the house naked if you forgot something in the laundry room. No more watching what the kids want on TV. Reclaim that remote control!
Reconnect with Your Partner
Now is the time to take a step back from the busyness of raising children and focus on your relationship with your partner. Make an effort to rediscover the positive aspects of the connection that you have always had but have maybe put on the back burner for a while. Plan more dinner dates. Have coffee on the back porch. Ask your partner about their day and actively listen to their answer. Make eye contact. Take advantage of the empty house and do what you want to do, when you want to do it.
If it sounds like I did a happy dance the moment my children walked out the door, I have misled you. I miss my children every day. But they are off on their own adventure now, making their way in a world that doesn’t always include us. My husband and I decided that we were going to make the best of the empty nest.
If you find yourself struggling in your empty nest, seek help from a counselor. Counselors can provide you with coping strategies that will assist you through this difficult transition. If seeking help from a counselor is not an option, talk to others who have been through a similar struggle.