Monday, January 16, 2017

How Do We Embrace an Empty Nest?

I've talked about this issue before but I've been reading some comments on a site devoted to empty nesters and I'm even more concerned with some of the moms. As a mother of 4 daughters who was able to stay at home to raise them, I understand the sudden STOP of everything once the youngest goes off to college. It is sudden. And it is a STOP. The kind of stop that happens when you slam the heck out of your brakes to avoid hitting the brick wall in front of you. I get it. I've been there. What concerns me are the mothers who have spent the last decades of their kids' lives doing everything for them from the moment they were born until the second they moved out. These poor souls seem to feel as though they have nothing left.

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.
  • Redecorate/remodel
I think a lot of parents may have trouble devoting their time without attaching themselves, permanently, to their kids. After reading and hearing stories from those who became attached, I'm glad I was devoted but not attached. I can't imagine being so attached to another human being, or a thing that I can't function without it. That is not healthy for anyone.

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's a vicious cycle, this one)
  • Redecorated rooms
  • Got my photography bug, 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)
If you go back to the beginning of this blog, you can find the posts all about filling the empty hours of the empty days. Yes, empty because it does all come to a sudden stop. The thing is, that's ok. A sudden stop gives you time to reflect and plan your next moves. Start there and start small. Don't try to take everything on all at once. You have time, now. Use it.

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?


  1. You know when my children left home I had just started working at a Hallmark store. I didn't seem to have major issues when they left home. However now that both of my children have been back home it is a different story. As you know Amber moved out and that brought a new peace to our home. It was a difficult 6 1/2 years under the roof. Soon Adam will be moving out and this time I am going to miss having them home. Since Mark travels often it has been nice having people around. I feel because I am older now that I am going to panic about being home alone!!!

    1. Oh, I hope not! If you feel panicked, reach out. I'm far away but I'm here, if that makes sense. I'm hoping Maggie moves out soon. She's the last one to move back out and I'm beyond ready. I don't worry about being alone. I would relish it! Unless I watch Criminal Minds and then, I need people here. LOL Thank you!

  2. Thanks for the advice and examples. It's important to watch for signs of depression- endless TV watching- not wanting to leave the house- not knowing what will make you happy... Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    1. You're so right about that. I worry so much about those who spend their days sobbing and waiting for a word from their kids. There is so much more to life after raising kids. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  3. Like every transition, I needed to plan for empty nestness. I knew it was coming and I had to a)prepare for the feelings and b)prepare for the extra time. I know its hard to start a hobby during the pre-college years of our young ones, but it's possible to dream of what we'd like to do.

    1. I agree. Preparation is helpful even though it does still hit you between the eyes. LOL I had so many hobbies on my 'want-to' list that I'm still trying them out. :)

  4. Our boys will tell you that I went apartment hunting with them when it was time to get out on their own. They are my step-sons, but I love them as my own. You are right...we raise them to be responsible adults, not dependent. Lay the foundation and then give them the mortar to begin building their own life. We are so blessed.

    1. Yes! I haven't had a hard time either other than finding ways to fill the time. Now, however, I am having a hard time. Getting the last one out again. LOL Thanks, Terri!

  5. Mostly I'm good with the empty nest. In fact, I rather like it. Love my girls to the moon and back, but enjoying our freedom too.

    1. I am, too. The peace and quiet was the best for me. :) Now, however, I can't get the oldest one to move back out. LOL Thanks for sharing!

  6. I feel blessed as my kids were all at so many different ages. It hasn't been as drastic as some Moms. My Mom went into the worst depression you have ever seen, so I was going to make sure I never went though that. My youngest and my oldest were 14 years apart. My youngest son and my oldest grandson are 10 years apart. So I don't think I will ever really be an empty nester. I do though love reading your tips and they make me think of other things I would like to do. Have a lovely day.

    1. So THAT'S the key! Spread 'em out. LOL I didn't have a really hard time either but I'm telling you, some of these women have me seriously concerned. I think some of them might be like your mom. I'm so glad we didn't have that.

  7. Here’s my view from the dad side - I absolutely agree with the goals and desires held for our children that you mention. Society will only advance if the next generation is prepared. However, I wonder if that attitude/mindset is changing. Next I want to say I was puzzled by this empty nest issue many women seem to have. (no big kids = more room, less mess, no one stealing my beer, this is great!) While I’m sure there might be a dad out there who felt this lost, I can’t say I’ve ever heard of one. Then I compared this to forced retirement and it made more sense. Also, there’s the father/mother role differences. I’ve come to understand it better.
    I like your ideas. Hobbies, activities, volunteering, etc are all good stuff. Personally I’ve found blogging one of the best hobbies ever.

    1. Thanks for sharing the dad side! I have read so many stories from some of these women and I am seriously concerned about them. I don't understand being so attached to someone or something that I cannot function when the relationship changes. I hope I never do. You made excellent points and I also agree with you about blogging! Thanks!

  8. I have an empty nest and I love it, maybe I am strange but I do not miss having them here, that said since they all left home I have had one or another return home for a short while but they are all gone now and I do not expect any of them to return again

    1. I don't think you're strange, I think these women are the minority. Or, at least, I hope they are. I'd hate to think that most of us do suffer from an empty nest. I have one I need to get out of here and I hope none of them have to come back again. LOL


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! It makes me feel connected to everyone even though we may live far apart! Have a wonderful day!

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