All parents of able-bodied children eventually face the empty nest—that is if they plan to allow their children to fly out of it.
When the children pack up to leave either temporarily to go away to school, or permanently to live on their own, their parents may struggle with a variety of issues.
When possible, it can be helpful to put some tactics into play well-ahead of the empty nest. I see far too many couples divorce shortly after their kids leave home. They are either bored with themselves, bored with their spouses, or they feel so lost they want to start over in some way.
PLAN FOR THE EMPTY NEST
Planning for the change in the nest ahead of time can be helpful. It may take a lot, but you can work on renewing intimacy and rebuilding your relationship with your spouse, and rebuild your own identity too.
The empty nest phase can fling women into quite a bit of emotional distress because most of us women took our mothering roles very seriously. Any transition in life is difficult, but this one is often fraught with many emotions.
I first noticed how vacant the house felt when my boisterous daughter moved out to attend university. Not only did I lose her presence, but I lost the friends she used to have over to the house. I lost my job as her taxi driver to dance classes, school functions, and even driving her then boyfriend home at midnight.
On another level, I lost the only other female in the house. It was very solemn living with two boys—my husband and son—who’d rather play X-Box or computer games than engage in conversation or evening walks.
Nevertheless, while moving through the transition is often done by taking a day at a time, I do believe it’s important to prepare yourself first.
Here’s a few things you might want to consider:
- Rediscover or uncover your personal purpose. Figure out if you’re meant to build a career or ministry, return to school, or work on your hobbies.
- Consider if a move is in
order. It worked
out perfectly for my husband and I. He was forced to take a job transfer just before my daughter
was to select a university. We chose to
move to a division of his company that was close to extended family and old friends. When the children move
on, we’ll have a network closeby. I can't imagine going through the empty nest in the city we left. I had too few connections there.
- Picture your ideal future. Often we think it’s time to downsize, but what
if you’d like to have room for large extended family get-togethers or space for
future grandchildren to play or sleep. Maybe
your best pool days are ahead of you.
Just because you’re nearing, or over 50 doesn’t mean you need to pack it
in. You have a lot of living left to do.
- Revisit your health. As you age you’ll likely be prone to weight
gain and new aches and pains. Implement
plans to keep your body fit.
- Nurture your spirit. Often sad moods are the result of a sick
spirit. Reconnect with God. Find a Christian community to participate in. Pray.
- Say yes to new relationships. As you approach the empty nest you’ll begin to lose contacts you had through your children. It’s time to make adult friends. Ask God to bring some your way. Then put your best foot forward. Be the type of person people want to be around.
This by no means is all there is to say about the empty nest or impending empty nest. It’s a start. Please share with us your experience in the comments section below.