If you’re reeling because you’re a new empty nester, know that the dazed fog you are currently experiencing is normal. You may feel somewhat paralyzed, and unable to move forward. The transition to life as an empty nester is a big one, and it will take some time to adjust. While you need to take the time to grieve the passing of a significant life stage, you don’t want to get “stuck” in grief. Remember that you may feel sad, but this is really what you worked for as a parent. You need to celebrate a job well done! Your kids are ready to grow and learn on their own, and you’ve prepared them to face the future. There are some great things about the empty nest, I promise! If you need a little nudge to help you move forward, it’s understandable. Here are eight simple next steps.
1. Take back the house.
Be honest. There was stuff that was driving you crazy. Schedule the carpet cleaners. Make plans to repaint. Clean out the fridge and some closets. Throw out the chipped china and order replacements. Whether you are thinking of downsizing or not, these things are always a good idea.
2. Take stock of your relationships.
How’s the health of your marriage? Are you single? Maybe it’s time to get back out there. Do you have parents that need your attention? Friends you miss? My husband and I made a list of couple friends that we hadn’t spent time with in a while and made plans to meet one couple a month for dinner over the course of a year.
3. Address nagging health issues.
How long has it been since you’ve had a physical? Midlife is the time to take charge of health issues that you may have been avoiding. Join a gym or dust off your treadmill and commit to getting back into shape. (Need some motivation? Look at the health and fitness section of my website.)
4. Do some fun “empty-nesty” stuff.
Do some things just because you can and relish them! Buy your favorite ice cream and enjoy the fact that no one will steal it. Take a nap, a bubble bath, or go to the movies in the middle of the afternoon. Sign up to volunteer for a cause you love, take a class, or go on a date on a weeknight. (Click here for some fun date ideas.)
5. Embrace the quiet and solitude.
Play your music and turn it up loud! Watch what you want to watch on TV. (There are no critics around to make fun of your choices.) In the quiet, you can hear yourself think and even talk to yourself. Hot flash? Stand naked in front of the freezer door if you want. The dog won’t care, and your husband might actually like it. 🙂
6. Plan a trip.
One of the great things about being an empty nester is not having a vacation schedule that’s tied to the school schedule. In fact, many resorts and cruise lines slash their rates by up to 50% in September and October. Whether you plan a weekend getaway, a bigger trip, or both, you will love looking forward to an adventure. (See the travel section of my website for ideas.)
7. Play catch up.
What did you put on the back burner while you were focused on raising kids? It’s okay to shift some of that focus to yourself now. Not sure about the latest in fashion or beauty? Need help learning how to parent adult kids? Need a faith boost? You’ve come to the right place! Browse my archives or sign up for my mailing list, so you don’t miss any upcoming posts on these topics and more.
8. Treat yourself.
You deserve it! Buy yourself something as small as a new lipstick (here’s my latest fave), new nail polish (try this brand if you’re a DIYer), or even a new handbag (I just bought myself this tote for my birthday.). When our nest first emptied, I went a little candle crazy, and my poor husband came home every night to my new “favorite” candle! (I’ve now settled on just one real favorite and he is so relieved!) I pulled it again on the poor guy when I bought a pitcher with a fruit and tea infuser core, and he never knew what flavor was going to accompany dinner each night.
If you’re a new empty nester or even an empty nester that may have gotten “stuck,” consider taking some of these steps forward. You were a woman before you were a mother, and you were made for more than motherhood. Take the time you need to adjust and embrace this new stage of your life. Need more help? I have resources on my website that I’ve pulled together especially for soon-to-be empty nesters, new empty nesters, and even long-time empty nesters.
Leave me a comment and let me know how you’re adjusting, okay?