Dream your dreams. Help others feel at ease when they walk through your door but do not abandon yourself.

Parents are making marketing lists from recipes and re-arranging colors in the house for the holidays.

I have a list below that might give everyone a heads up on this transition.

Children will come back from college, work, travel, their homes and some won\’t be able to make it. Winter break for college children can last for three to four weeks. In-laws, divorces, finances, illness, might make this holiday different than the others.

Some children have other commitments and can\’t be with you, but still put candles and flowers around the house for you. Enjoy the beauty of your sacred home. Cook the foods you love and have fun reading new recipes. Plan a day out of the house where you can be around others if your family isn\’t coming to visit. Maybe volunteer at a shelter, serve a meal to others, or ask if you can read to children at your local library or school. Meaning can add inspiration.

A little email or short chat on the phone before the children arrive sets the tone for the holidays and acknowledges the change in all of your roles.

Here are some topics to explore:

1. I am so excited to see you.

2. I know you have been on your own and without an authority figure.

3. I have discovered a new freer routine for me.

4. We all are changing our roles and awkward in the practices.

5. You and your friends must be so excited to be with each other again.

6. Grandma, grandpa and your brother and sister can\’t wait to see you and they know you need time to veg out, sleep, and see friends.

7. Hopefully you will have time to schedule your doctor appointments and other things you want to get done while you are here.

8. Ok good news….no curfew

9. Ok bad news…park the car on the street since you come home later and we have to get out the door before you.

10. Keep the night noise of talking on your phone and playing music to a quiet tone.

11. Turn out the lights.

12. Do your own laundry.

13. Put the dishes in the dishwasher.

14. Don\’t hog the remote.

15. If you don\’t see it in the refrigerator write down what you want before you or I go to the market. It is not funny to put those empty milk cartons back in the frig.

16. I know your plans will change like not coming home for a meal, so text us or call to give us a heads up.

17. Please don\’t leave the gas tank on empty.

18. Print this email and read it before you walk in the door or don\’t worry there will be a copy on your bed. No, I did not change your room or rent it out.

19. Let me hug and kiss you and fuss over you. Yes, I know you aren\’t a child anymore, but I am still your mom.

20. I will lower my expectations on how the holidays use to be. I won\’t let the little things ruin our time together. Let\’s just clear the air in seconds rather than long talks if something does come up. I dumped the lecture, managing, and guilt voice since you\’ve been gone.

Emotions rise and fall during the holidays. All our loses seem to emerge. Tears drop and tissues fill the car. Music plays that brings up memories. Pressure from television and magazines of how we are suppose to look, decorate, shop, and be attack our center.

My reminder list will be:

  • Get up, dressed and out the door for a quiet morning walk.
  • Remind myself to breathe when I feel anxious or angry…pause…step away from the attacks.
  • Ask for help.
  • Listen.
  • Shift my perception in the moment.
  • May the holidays bring you inward reflection and outer connections that add meaning to your life? May you dance and sing and make a fool of yourself if it brings a smile.



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    Gathering For Empty Nest Mothers, February 1-3, 2008

    Natalie Caine is the founder of Empty Nest Support Services. When her daughter was a senior in high school, she realized that as a soon-to-be “empty nester,” she would be undergoing a major life shift. Not wanting to confront this transition alone nor have her many friends face this abyss without strong support, she created a support services group, which quickly grew into a new career and an exciting full-time business.