School is starting back up. For some of us, kids are moving out of the house and into dorms. Some of them are moving out into their own homes. Empty nesting is officially defined as a parent whose children have grown up and left home. If you have reached this milestone, congratulate yourself! Raising and nurturing future adults and sending them into the wilds of adulthood is not an easy task, especially during COVID-19. It’s time to celebrate and decide what to do with ALL THAT FREE TIME!
I have officially made it through the first year of empty nesting. My kids are out the door, attending college, and carving their own path in the crazy “adulting” world. After negotiating the first year of empty nesting I’ve realized a few things. For one, I cannot pick up where I left off my life before kids. I’m not 30 years old anymore. The old self is not gone but she has changed. It is time to discover my current self. What energizes me, what enthuses me, what’s next? It was daunting.
I took my first year to formulate a plan, explore, and try a few new things. The kids are never far from my thoughts (I am still their Mom!) but I wanted to define my future self. Here are a few ideas from my first year that may get you moving towards the rediscovery of you:
What to do to make the most of empty nesting: Take a virtual exercise class
Whatever sounds interesting – Barre, Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, Boxing, Martial Arts, horseback riding (yes, riding a horse is definitely exercise!). Try something you’ve never done before. Many cities host community exercise events or your local Parks & Rec might have some fun and interesting options that won’t cost an arm or leg but may make them stronger.
Take adult field trips
Anything that suits your fancy or the things your kids NEVER wanted to do. Tour local gardens and homes, visit historic sites and learn more about your hometown history, or visit (and sample) the abundance at local wineries, craft breweries, and distilleries.
Reconnect with friends
Now that you aren’t running from soccer to dance to booster meetings to school events you’ve got a bit more time for those tried and true friends. Linger over conversation while indulging in your beverage of choice over Zoom. Guess what? You ARE cool!
There are tons of local charities in your area that would love your help no matter how much time you can offer, even if it’s virtual. Consider volunteering where you feel a connection. It will make you feel great to give back to your community!
Try a new hobby or revisit an old one
Painting, writing, gardening, singing, hiking, camping, spelunking – wherever your passions take you! Always have the right equipment, be safe – NEVER spelunk alone, and have fun!
Visit your kids
It’s nice to drop in and make sure they are doing OK, feed them because you know they aren’t eating right, and get a few hugs (because who doesn’t love a hug, right?). Visit them but carve time out to explore their town.
Dig deeper into work
I am NOT saying work more! We work enough. Take advantage of your free time to learn a new skill, take a course, or attend a workshop. It will pay off at work and enhance your resume! Be the best employee for you and your company. A win/win!
Take a few minutes each day to just sit and be in that moment. Find peace and gratitude in each day.
The kids still come home. You are never without them for long. No matter where they land in their future lives you are still home to them. A soft place to land when adulting gets hard because you know it gets hard sometimes. They still need you.
I found empty nesting to be a major adjustment. Some experiences I was completely unprepared for – the house was too quiet, and others were smoother than I had anticipated – I didn’t cry at all, not once. Redefining who you are is never easy but it is exciting! I really like my new self….SHE ROCKS!