Does it feel like yesterday the kids were heading off to kindergarten even though they’re almost adults? I swear yesterday we were playing with LEGOs, and I was cutting the crusts of their PB and J sandwiches. It wasn’t, though, and logically I know that. In my “mom brain,” they’ve grown up overnight, and I’m faced with an almost empty nest. Before the kids have moved out completely, I’ve decided to start preparing for an empty nest – when it’s just my husband and me.
7 Ways I’m Preparing for an Empty Nest
My kids are 18 and 23, so logically I thought that my daughter (23) would move out first and that I’d have my son (18) at home for a few more years. It didn’t work that way. One morning, my son announced he was moving in with his fiancé’s parents an hour away. Two days later, he moved out. My daughter’s boyfriend moved in at the same time because he was just discharged from the army. Now, my household consists of my husband and I and my daughter and her 26-year-old boyfriend. They’re saving up for their own place, so the prospect of an empty nest is real.
So, what you can do to prepare for an empty nest before it happens?
- Plan early. Don’t wait until they’re seniors in high school to start preparing. Time goes by much quicker than you think. One day you’ll wake up, and they’ll be packing to move out.
- Accept it. It’s going to happen sooner or later. Whether your child moves out at 18 or 28 will depend on their goals and their plans, but it will happen. Don’t assume that your child will be with you past the age of 18. You may want them to go to a local college, but they may decide the one in another state is better. Have a discussion with your spouse about their goals once you have an empty nest.
- Adjust your schedule. When you no longer need to wake up early to get the kids off to school, be flexible enough to adjust your schedule. If Tuesday night has always been soccer practice, prepare for a Tuesday night with no commitments. At first, it will seem odd, but allow yourself to schedule something else in its place. Take up yoga or karate and schedule that for Tuesday instead.
- Talk to friends. If you have friends that have gone through empty nest syndrome already, speak to them about their experience. See if they have any suggestions for making the process easier.
- Get in touch with the part of you that isn’t a parent. It’s hard. If your day has always been filled with teacher conferences, driving your child places, helping them with homework, attending their sports practices, etc., you may have lost track of the part of you that isn’t a parent. Take time to rediscover your interests and passions that aren’t related to your child.
- Plan to keep in touch. Just because they don’t live at home, doesn’t mean you can’t keep in touch. Plan to text, call or email them regularly. Send them a box of their favorite homemade cookies or splurge on one of those college subscription boxes if they’re heading off to college. Don’t smother them, but do keep in touch.
- Let yourself grieve. It’s OK to miss them. It’s a perfectly natural emotion. Instead of dwelling on it, try to see this day as a positive thing. You’ve been preparing them to be independent adults for years, and now you’ve succeeded.
Understand that it does get easier. The first few months after the kids move out will be the hardest. It will be a bit easier to see an empty, neat room instead of your child’s usual clutter. The silence will become easier to handle and you’ll miss the constant noise of their friends and their video games just a little bit less each day. Just make sure to be kind to yourself during the process.
Ellen LaFleche-Christian is a busy mom of an 18-year-old son and 23-year-old daughter. She owns five blogs and is addicted to social media. She believes that it doesn’t have to be difficult to lead a healthy life. She shares simple healthy living tips to show busy women how to lead fulfilling lives. You can find her at Confessions of an Overworked Mom.