“There is more to life than increasing its speed” Gandhi

I love the feeling of the word summer. Playtime is expected and we are even given more light.

Whether our children are at home or away , I think we need to plan our own playtime , which of course all of us know, but and yes there is a but . . . we wait to see if our kids will be home or if they might want to go to dinner or the beach or a movie.

We aren\’t dependent. We simply love having time with our children. Isn\’t it a challenge when they first come back home to not wait and see what they are going to do? Isn\’t it a challenge to not ask too many questions like are you ok? They haven\’t had to explore that question with us for a long time. They know we care, and at the same time they might feel invaded by the caring question. Isn\’t it a challenge to step into these new parenting roles and not feel shot down or like a fool?

As we know, their plans change…they are heading in the direction of doing something with a friend and then that doesn\’t happen. OH, but we are available. We tell ourselves in our sweet hopeful heads.

There are no rules about how to handle the waiting and the planning. I just like to keep my eye glasses clean. There are no rules about being invasive or caring. I just hope the lines of communication stay open, that I don\’t get defensive, and that we do have simple summertime fun together.

I like to slow it down in the summer, be more spontaneous, and spend time in the light. I shift my routine and habits. I remind myself to find a place of my own in town and out. Get in nature. Go to an outdoor concert. Have a pot luck BBQ.

One mom said to me during a phone consultation, “It is so much harder to live with others than by myself. I complain about being single and living alone, but then when the children come home I am a neat freak, an over powering human, and a chatty woman. We joked about buying a red lipstick that said stop.

A dad in one of our empty nest groups said his inability to stop comes when he says, “do you think there is a maid to do the dishes?” Even he is sick of his sarcasm.

Put a ribbon or a do not disturb sign on a door, a home office, etc when you need your space. It is a non invasive way to communicate. Doesn\’t that remind you of what you might have done when the kids were little?

We are on this new learning path of hanging out with our adult children or more specifically living with them until they earn enough money, or choose a direction to then go out and live on their own. One mom expressed that she feels like she is back in college living with a room mate . . . a slob and one who talks too loud, plays music too late at night, and is self-absorbed.

At times we speed up to teach them everything about the ways to appropriately come back home and live with us. Appropriately . . . now that is a turn off word. Lighten up is another that just doesn\’t teach much. Be specific with your teachings. “I need you to fill up the car with gas so I am not on empty when I leave for work. Put a post it in the car to remind you to just do it.”

I suggest before they plop their suitcases in the house to give them the reminder that they are adult children now who are coming back home. We want them to participate in the house and not be kids. We want respect and not to be their punching bag when they need to release. We want to negotiate. We want to explore a plan about expenses and earning money. We want a possible date when they will live on their own. That is just the beginning list . . . just kidding . . . We need to keep a sense of humor and paradoxically hold boundaries. We need to not be punitive and apologize.

May we learn to hold our own, have fun, and be role models not only for our children but for all who are speeding by and taking time to play in summer light.

Have fun,

Natalie

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.