It can be a strange feeling to wake up to an empty and quiet home when you are used to the hustle and bustle of having your kids at home.
Suddenly you find yourself with no one to drive to school, help with homework, cook for and even clean up after. It can take some time to get used to being an empty nester.
But this doesn’t mean that your life is over. This is a perfect opportunity to take back your life and start finding different and new ways to fill your days. You need to figure out who you are apart from the kids and be just a parent. It doesn’t mean that you forget about kids. But rather, you can start to enjoy the next phase of your life after you have raised your kids into adults who are finding their own way in this world.
This new phase of life with no kids at home introduces opportunities for more leisure time, personal freedom, and a new connection with your spouse or partner.
There are many things you can do to adjust to being an empty nester and make the process easier on yourself.
Here are some ideas on how to adjust to an empty nest lifestyle:
Set goals for the future
Short and long-term goals provide direction for the future. Goals can offer a new sense of purpose, and practically force you to commit time to something each week that is just for you.
You can do so many new things:
- Renovate your home
- Take up a new hobby
- Reconnect with old friends
- Rekindle the romance with your husband or partner
- Travel the world
- Create new weekend routines
Also, this new stage of your life can be a new opportunity to revisit both retirement and financial plans and think about where you plan to live in the next 5, 10, or even 20 years from now.
Downsize your home
As an empty nester, you might find it hard to keep living in that huge house that feels too big and empty for you.
Now with the kids gone it will be much harder to maintain and clean. Also, you will feel lonelier than before. If downsizing your home feels like the right thing for you to do right now, then go for it. You will save a lot of money on maintaining that big house, and you might also enjoy a smaller and more modern space.
Declutter your home
Many empty nesters like the idea of downsizing to a smaller home with the goal of preparing themselves for their later years in retirement. They want to have less stuff to maintain and more time to enjoy their next phase of life.
Usually downsizing or moving to a new place comes with the process of decluttering. When it is time to declutter, you may realize that it would be an emotional process because your home is filled with memories of raising a family.
If you do not know how to deal with especially sentimental items, here are some ideas:
- Make a “special box” for each of your children filled with a few items you treasure the most.
- Save your favorite items with digital photo storage.
- Ask your children what items they would like to take with them.
Even if you are not downsizing or relocating to a new home, having a good purge and removing unwanted clutter can be comforting while you are adjusting to an empty home.
Renovate or redesign your home
Facing an empty nest is an emotional time for many of us. But it is a great opportunity because home renovations can help ease the transitions when kids leave home.
You can use your newfound time to create a home that suits your new lifestyle. Think about what kind of modern-day changes can help you adapt to your new lifestyle.
Here is a list of some ideas on home renovations:
- Make an extra bedroom as a multipurpose room – a home gym, an office, a studio
- Design a guest bedroom
- Extend your bedroom and add an ensuite
- Redesign or build a master bedroom
- Redesign the basement
- Redesign the kitchen
- Build a walk-in closet
- Build a TV room/ home theater or entertainment room
- Create an outdoor space to be your sanctuary
Reconnect with old friends
Social media makes it easier to find old high school and college friends with that you have fallen out of touch because of your busy life.
They likely have their children leaving for college too, so is a good time to catch up with the old friends again. It is helpful to be around other empty nesters who can share the same life changes with you.
Connect with your old friends through social media like Facebook or text message if you are too nervous to make a phone call. Follow up on of their most recent posts and then start a conversation about what they are up to. Bring back a happy memory or a funny time you shared together. It will bring you both back to that moment when you were close friends, and help building up a new level of relationship.
Start a new hobby
Many parents will have a hole in their life when the kids are gone. They no longer need to go to sports activities, help with homework, drive them to their friends or cook meals.
To help with the sense of loss, you need to find some new activities that will help you overcome the sense of loss of purpose and meaning. Figure out what you like to do, and then get involved in that activity.
Do not stay at home on your own, missing your child and hoping for your feelings to go away or change on their own. Time will help heal you. But you need to be proactive and find new hobbies and activities that can also help you move forward with your life.
If you need some ideas on what hobbies you can take, here is the list:
- Try something you have always wanted to do
- Learn a new language
- Take dancing classes
- Become a photographer
- Learn to play a musical instrument
- Write an e-book
- Learn new craft
- Become a blogger
Traveling the world can be your new adventure as an empty nester. Being a full-time parent doesn’t always allow us to explore the world. But stopping you now if traveling was always your dream?
Even being a little bit older should not stop you from fulfilling your dream to become a world traveler. So, look at the multiple online websites and book a long trip somewhere you have always dreamed of visiting.
- Finding Purpose in Life in Retirement
- How to Organize Your Time in Retirement
- How to Travel the World in Retirement
Reconnect with your partner
An empty nest is a perfect opportunity to spend more time with your husband or partner. This is an ideal time to rekindle your romance and create a new home for adults.
There are many stories of couples who divorce or separate after the children have grown and left the nest. Suddenly many couples find that they have nothing in common with one another once their kids are gone.
You may also find that you have nothing in common with your partner anymore. That is okay!
If you want to reconnect with your partner, find activities and hobbies that you can do together so that you feel connected. It does not have to be a passion for both of you. As an alternative, it can be something that you are both willing to do because you want to be together.
It could be as simple as these ideas for couples:
- Take cooking classes
- Jogging or going for a walk
- Plant a garden
- Take dancing classes
- Go on a date night
- Host a dinner party with friends
- Travel to places on your bucket list
- Volunteer together
- Adopt a pet
Whatever your interests or hobbies may be, do it together to engage one another and share the experience as a couple.
Find your new identity
When you are a parent, it is so easy to get lost as a person. Raising a family can be a rewarding and yet exhausting period of life.
Being a parent for a long period of your life you may simply lose your own identity outside of parenthood. Becoming an empty nester is an ideal time to learn how to be you again. Because before you become a parent, you were your own person as well.
This could mean that now is a good time to discover who you are and who you want to be besides just being a parent. There is no wrong or right way to adjust to your new life once your kids left home. We all need time to do things that are just for ourselves.
Set aside time to take care of yourself. Everyone has their favorite self-care ritual. What is yours?
This could mean taking a relaxing bubble bath with candles or going to a yoga class, cooking a delicious meal or shopping for a new wardrobe, meeting with old friends on Thursday night, or just reading a good book.
Focus on positive
After the kids are grown up and out of the house, you should feel a deep sense of accomplishment. After all, you did your job as a parent.
Also, you are allowed to feel sad about your kids leaving home. But their moving out is a normal and positive change. You can continue to be close with your kids thanks to modern technology such as emails, chats, texts, video chats, social media, etc.
You will always be Mom or Dad, but your grown-up child will need you in a different way now.
Think of the extra time and energy you will have to dedicate to your marriage, friends, and interests. It is time to embrace your empty nest once and for all so that you can enjoy every moment of your new lifestyle. Look for the new opportunities in your personal and professional life if you are still working.
Our kids will grow and leave home we build for them. Becoming an empty nester is just another life transition. You need to embrace it and make the best out of your new phase of life.