I'm not kidding, y'all. They are in tears and can't seem to leave their houses. If they do leave their houses for a job, they come home and cry. They have no energy and they talk about how their kids don't call or text. I have to wonder if these lovely women devoted themselves to their children and nothing or no one else for 18, or however many years, and now expect the kids to continue wanting that constant, daily contact. That's not how this works.
Didn't all of us raise our kiddos to go out into the world as productive, world-changing individuals? Didn't we want them to grow up to be independent thinkers who could stand on their own two feet? Didn't we spend 18 years prepping them for going out into the world on their own? Or was it just me?
I was that stay at home mom who devoted her time and effort to her kids. But I wasn't totally lost when the last one left. I mean, I felt 'off' but I was not in constant tears or feeling the need to beg people to call or text me. And it's because I was TIRED, y'all. Exhausted from being so dang busy all those years. So, I rested.
Seriously, I did feel the 'different' that comes with no children living at home. I found projects to keep busy because I was used to busy. I felt the alone but not the lonely. I think that's where the problem comes in for those who spend their empty nest days in tears and utter distress. For those who feel lonely instead of the calm of being alone for more than 2 seconds, who spend countless hours in tears and worry, who believe they must hear from their all grown up kids many times during every day, let me suggest---
- Find a hobby. Anything. Try to remember things you wished you'd had time to do when you were raising your kids and do that now.
- Get out of the house. Go out and walk, or shop, or have lunch. Do anything, just do something and do it outside the constraints of home.
- Organize. Unless you were THAT mom who was able to keep your house organized and clean while raising your kids, now's the perfect time to do all that!
- What about those gazillion photos you took of your precious ones? Get those organized and put them into scrapbooks.
- Get yourself a puppy! I did and it was fabulous!
- Reconnect with old friends and friends you couldn't spend time with due to someone's game, performance, homework, headache...
- Work on fitness. I'm not talking about losing weight here, I'm talking about getting fit. It will make you feel better physically and mentally.
I started this blog to write about having an empty nest and I took some of the above advice myself. As I mentioned, I felt the feels but it was not overwhelming. It was an adjustment. Any time there's an adjustment to be made, it's likely to be challenging but it's almost always doable. It takes time.
I've written about my own steps to adjusting to an empty nest. Here are some of the things I did:
- Got a puppy
- Organized and cleaned the house
- Organized the photos and scrapbooked them
- Started a garden without a green thumb
- Cleaned the yard although it still needs a major overhaul
- Volunteered in the schools
- Took a job in the elementary school the lovelies attended
- Worked on getting fit (and then not, and then did it again, and then not, and then...it's a vicious cycle, this one)
- Redecorated rooms
- Got my photography bug on..no, I'm not the best but it's so much fun and I'm still doing it)
- Picked up the knitting needles (fun? Yes but it didn't last forever because it's hard)
- Started blogging (LOVE this! It's one of the best things I've ever done)
And for goodness sakes, if you find you're one of those sweet souls who have become attached to THAT point, get out and get some help. Talk to someone. There is so much more to life than living it for and through your adult kids.
This is not a time of crying and complaining and sitting in a rocking chair wrenching your hands. It's a time for enjoying life for yourself. Get to know yourself again. If you like your significant other, get to know him/her, too. Do things together or, as I prefer, do things all by yourself or with friends. We don't all stay close with our SOs. That's ok, too. Just get out of the chair and do something.
Do y'all know folks who are struggling hard with an empty nest?