Good Times for Empty Nesters
I have received emails from parents saying, “I can\’t believe it. I am having fun in my empty nest.”
Sure their face brightens when the children call or come to visit. A father said to a friend when they were waiting in line for the movies, “Watch her face (referring to the mother in line) when I ask about how her daughter is doing. The mother instantly grins, eyes twinkle and she gets very talkative.”
I don\’t think that reaction needs to be changed. What has changed, slowly, is parents are enjoying their free time and the silence in their home. They are changing their routines and the role they play in the life of their precious children.
Some have bought bikes and pack it up on weekends to bike paths. Travel has increased. Classes online and at local colleges have been exciting choices. One mom wrote that she was a real estate broker and now is becoming a personal chef. She didn\’t know that was in her until months after her children were away and she had time to explore her options.
Change is an ongoing journey. We don\’t just experience it and then never feel the discomfort or loss again.
What seems to help is SHIFTING OUR PERCEPTIONS. Oh ya, I raised them to be independent. I trust them. I have some fears about who I am now and what I want, but who wouldn\’t after decades of living with children.
Parents are dealing with caring for their parents, job changes, looking and feeling differently than they imagined, multiple families, children moving back home, death, funds for retirement, topped with learning how to find meaning, happiness, and new ways of relating to their adult children.
Remember when we use to make charts for our little children as far as what they needed to have before they went out the door to school?
Maybe it would be helpful to make charts for ourselves:
1. Get up, shower, and out the door.
2. Make a plan with a friend
3. Don\’t call or text or email your children until you ask why you are extending right now?
4. Try something new in your community.
5. Add to your dream list and get support.
6. Get an updated resume with a professional
7. Mentor or volunteer if you are ready for that commitment
8. Invite someone over to your home
9. Research trips to do with groups so you are not limited by not having anyone to take a vacation with.
10. Take a new exercise class
11. Do a house exchange
12. Buy tickets to a local event
13. Tour your city on a weekend
14. Surround yourself with beauty: a rock, a shell, a flower, something you cut out of a magazine, a fabric, small garden of herbs, beads, etc.
15. Write what you love about your life…really, just write it down and read it out loud.
16. Surprise someone with food, flowers, a note, photos, a hello call, etc.
17. Let yourself lovingly BE. Do nothing if that is what calls you.
Change is going to happen. Get support. Make a plan and tell yourself it is more than ok to have feelings of tears and fears. THEY ARE SIMPLY FEELINGS.
We don\’t walk a straight line. Hills can be interesting, especially when we remind ourselves that who we are is not a mistake and that we are not being left behind in life.
Spring is just days ahead and that which has been unseen, may be visible above the rich earth.
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