“Even the most distressing situation can offer a glimmer of hope, an opportunity for self-respect.” — Dr. Gloria WilderBrathwaite, medical director of the D.C. Children\’s Health Project


Before the countdown to your kids leaving home, try this fun quiz to see how prepared you are for the Empty Nest. If you\’re already an empty nester, this quiz can help you gauge how you\’re doing. Choose your response in each of these scenarios, then add up your final score at the end.

1. You wake up in the morning and your child has moved out. You begin the day by:

a. Sobbing uncontrollably
b. Grabbing the next flight to be near him/her
c. Scheduling a massage

2. Your cell phone rings at work and it\’s your kid calling:

a. You flip open the phone and start talking, forgetting you are in a conference with the boss
b. You excuse yourself and dash to the bathroom to talk to him/her
c. You let the message go to voice mail

3. You are in the grocery store:

a. You walk past the bread you used to buy to make your kid\’s sandwiches and you burst into tears
b. You rip open the bread and eat it as you walk down the aisle reminiscing
c. You realize you haven\’t eaten bread for a month because you\’ve been on a low-carb diet

4. You are driving home with a friend and the high school is on the next block:

a. You make a quick left turn, so your friend won\’t see you lose it
b. You drive by to test yourself to see how far you have come in not reacting
c. You say to your friend “Oh, there\’s the high school where my kids went…”

5. You are power-walking at the park and see moms with their kids:

a. You have to leave because the rush of memories is making you cry
b. You are glad you don\’t have to push kids on the swings anymore
c. You imagine how much fun it will be to have grandchildren

6. At the bookstore, parents are buying books with their little ones:

a. You recommend that they buy a particular book because your kid used to love reading it
b. You think to yourself, “I wish those kids would be quiet so I can browse in peace”
c. You flash the kids and their parents a warm smile as you head to the biography section

7. At the department store, you decide to cheer yourself up by buying some new underwear:

a. You buy a cute nightshirt for your daughter to wear in the dorm
b. You are too tired to shop; what made you think shopping would make you feel better?
c. You head to the red lingerie because red is your husband\’s favorite color

8. At the movies, the coming attractions show a preview for The Wizard of Oz:

a. You jump up, spilling your buttered popcorn, and dash to the parking lot in tears
b. You are so glad you saw that classic film with all three of your kids
c. You don\’t want to see that film again for as long as you live

9. The UCLA-USC football game is on TV in your den:

a. You take out your photos of when you and the kids watched the games
b. You have a friend over for chicken wings and beer to yell, “Touchdown!”
c. You don\’t care about football anymore

10. Your husband is planning a vacation to Tahiti:

a. You can\’t imagine a vacation without the kids
b. A tropical vacation would be great, but you need to be closer to home in case your child needs you
c. You are already Packing your new bikini and SPF 25

11. You are invited to a ski resort for part of the holidays:

a. You can\’t even entertain the idea because your kids will be home for winter break
b. You have to check with your kids first
c. You don\’t ski but are willing to take a lesson so you can hit the slopes

12. You are home on the weekend:

a. Hiding in bed with Doritos and onion dip, watching The Way We Were
b. Baking goodies to send in Care Packages to your kids
c. Planning a gourmet dinner party for friends


Score one point for each A;
two points for each B;
and three points for each C.


If your score is:

12-16 points: Don\’t despair – Empty Nest Support Services is here for you

17-24 points: You\’re coping, but you could use a few helpful hints

25+: Congratulations! You\’re surviving and thriving in your empty nest

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.