By Suzy Mighell
My husband has a motto for the empty nest season of life. He says, "You can do what you want, when you want, for as long as you want!" While those sentiments might not always ring true, there are some wonderful things about life as an empty nester.
- Your schedule isn't tied to the school schedule
You don't need to vacation when everyone else vacations. You don't have after-school extra-curricular activities to attend. Having an empty nest simply makes everything more convenient. It leaves room in your schedule for flexibility, spontaneity, and affordable off-season travel.
As an empty nester, when you put something away, it stays there. When you clean something, it stays clean. It's magical! When our nest emptied, we immediately called the carpet cleaners and painters to undo the years of damage our kids had done to our home. Now we feel like we live in a new house.
Active and engaged high school kids walk, talk, and eat quickly. When our kids left, we realized we had been frantically trying to match their pace. In the empty nest, you can slow down. Enjoy lingering over your meals and maybe even taking a stroll around the neighborhood when you're finished.
Before life as an empty nester, many people dreaded the quiet that would come when their kids no longer lived at home. Surprisingly, you may find you come to cherish the peace and quiet. After all, it's difficult to think when you are busy talking, answering questions, or helping someone. In the quiet of the empty nest, you may rediscover your love of music, gardening, or yoga. Simply put, you can hear yourself think.
In the empty nest, if you're naked and you need something from the kitchen, you just go and get it. No one will interrupt your evening bubble bath with requests for two dozen cupcakes to take to school at 8 a.m. the next morning.
After years of being responsive to your kids (which usually meant putting their needs first and your needs last), you can be proactive and give yourself permission to prioritize what you want for a change. If you're like most empty nesters, this will not come easily at first. One of the greatest adjustments in this stage of life can be giving yourself (guilt-free) permission to focus on some of the areas of life that you set aside while you were busy raising your children. It can take some getting used to and may feel awkward for a while. This is normal. Keep practicing, and it will get easier!
In the empty nest, nobody will monitor your comings and goings. No one needs to know where you are going, what you are doing, and who is doing it with you. There is great freedom in this! When my kids lived at home, they routinely texted me (sometimes from right upstairs) things like, "Where are you?" and "When's dinner?" Now, I decide where I am and when dinner is all by myself.
- You can wear your pajamas all day if you want
If you're an empty nester and you work from home, go ahead and wear whatever you want. (Yes, even your pajamas.) If not, throw them on as soon as you walk in the door after work. Better yet, take a long hot bath the minute you get home, and then get comfy. You'll be amazed at how relaxed and self-indulgent this feels.
Just like any other life stage, the empty nest years come with joys and challenges. It is a significant time of transition, and it can take some time to get used to it. Although many people dread its arrival, there are good things that come along with the empty nest. Focusing on those things can make your adjustment easier.
Suzy Mighell is the founder and editor of EmptyNestBlessed.com, a lifestyle website for empty nesters. She writes on all aspects of midlife and the empty nest season of life. Suzy has been married for 30 years and is the parent of 3 adult children. Connect with Suzy at EmptyNestBlessed.com and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.