When you think of an empty nest, most of us think of a middle aged couple with all their kids grown, living in an empty house. Doesn't give a happy picture, does it? The truth is, there are a lot of different emotions that go with this time in your life....but that time may not be as far in the future as you might think. Sometimes we experience this weird emptiness sooner. Here are MY experiences with an Empty Nest.
The Half Empty Nest - Long before our kids are grown and totally moved out, some of us may have the EMPTY NEST syndrome sooner because of other reasons. Like a lot of families these days, Yours Truly went through a divorce when all of my kids were still home. One of the hardest things about divorce for me was when my kids had to go to their dad's that first year. Every weekend was so weird--and lonely. I tried to fill it with all sorts of activities, but, it was so quiet around the house and I wasn't sure what to do to get past those feelings. I am sure for their dad, he felt that way during the week. All the crazy, busy-ness for me when they were home just STOPPED when they were gone. I went through this several other times before my kids were adults. When my oldest son went to college...I hadn't moved one of my kids HOURS away yet...it about broke my heart when he left. His siblings that were still at home were sad, too! It changed the dynamics completely. My two youngest both decided to move in with their dad for a few years as well (something I later found out was quite normal for kids of divorce) which (at the time) was also hard because I wasn't ready for them to leave yet. My home seemed so different...so lonely. Sooooo empty. Here's what happens though: YOU ADJUST. You get used to the quiet (and start to like it!), and when they are HALF gone, they usually come back when you start to miss them too much and shake up all that lonely quiet time! They are still your kids and it's easier now than ever to stay connected. So don't fret because they aren't sleeping at your house every night. It's ok.
Take Your Time - If you are in that position when it will be just you and your partner, TAKE YOUR TIME after the kids are gone to change up your life too much. First, they DO come back. Sometimes they come back and stay (like when my daughter went through a divorce) and sometimes they come and go (summers, holidays and Spring Breaks). You may feel like it's too quiet not to do something drastic, but, better to wait and be sure what you want before you sell your house, totally redecorate or rent out that basement! Downsizing too quick might be a not so good idea (trust me...been there, done that). The EMPTY NEST syndrome doesn't last forever--even if your nest is truly empty, so take your time so you don't make a huge decision under emotional stress. You will be glad you waited.
Think about YOUR Needs - While you take your time, consider what YOUR needs are now. What do you and your partner want to do with your lives? Where do you want to go? How do you want to live? It sounds like it would be easy to figure out, but, for me it took a good while before I knew what I did and didn't want. I finally figured out that even if my kids didn't live at home anymore, I still wanted a place for them to come and feel comfortable. I also figured out that moving to a different community wouldn't mean I wouldn't see them...and I learned that it's OK to be a little selfish now. They are all figuring out their lives and you need to figure out your life, too! So after you have, maybe you will want to downsize, or renovate a foreclosure, or both! Who knows?! It's all up to YOU! So take time to Fluff Up that Empty Nest...You deserve it!