To all you newly minted empty nesters out there: How’re you doing?
If you’re feeling blue, here’s a missive of hope from one who’s been there. Happy days will be here again.
There is Life After Kids Leave!
Human beings are incredibly adaptive. So you’ve spent the last 18+ years directing your primary energy to someone who is now no longer in your physical sphere most of the time. Bit by bit, you will fill that empty space.
Have a pet? I do. He’s a 10-pound Havanese pup who thinks he’s my fourth child. I got him when my middle daughter was going off to college to fill in the empty-sistering that I was sure my youngest daughter would go through. Three years later, mission accomplished with the sibling, that pup attended and is still attending to my empty nester blues. For those who don’t have a pet, this might be the time to get one.
Have a spouse or partner? I do. With no child to share meals (sniff!), we can actually hang out at the dinner table or a nice restaurant for….well, hours. Or stay in bed late on a weekend morning. Or travel. Yes, the airlines now love me. There are long-distance friends to visit, extended family to catch up with, even a vacation to take sans kids.
Don’t have a partner or a spouse? Have friends? The meals, late mornings, and travel are open and waiting for you, too.
Recalibrating Raison D’Etre
So, all this is nice. But you may feel a lingering absence of…raison d’etre? I did. And, one of the greatest joys I’ve found is that I actually have time to do something for the world beyond my family. So you might want to think about that. Maybe dip your toe in the water. Maybe jump in full force. Here are some things my other empty nester friends have taken up: work at food pantries, tutoring at schools, mission trips to Haiti and Colombia. You can join the board of your favorite local charity or get involved in neighborhood improvement work. The opportunities are out there – you just have to reach out the tiniest little bit. Once you get started, the grapevine will be onto you and you’ll probably have more opportunities than you can handle. Word of advice: Don’t take on too much! But let yourself learn and revel in your new role as steward of something beyond your child’s growth.
If this doesn’t sound appealing, give yourself time. It will! ☺
Share your empty-nest activities!