If you’ve found this page, and you are not yet an Empty Nester, I’m guessing that the prospect of being an empty nester is something you are spending some significant time considering. I want you to know that you are going to be okay. You are. And it’s good that you are thinking about it now.
When your children were infants and toddlers, there were times when their physical care seemed almost overwhelming. You couldn’t even seem to grab a shower. As they grew, and you headed into the school-age years, you probably felt the weight of all you needed to teach them to help them become mature young men and women. Things like faith, character, morals, manners, and all of the nuances of life. As they headed into the teenage years, the physical exhaustion may have returned – parenting teenagers seems to take place between 8 p.m. and midnight! (In fact, I started taking naps when my kids got into high school because I wanted to be at my best in those late-night hours when they were finally ready to talk.) Without a doubt, each phase of parenting comes with its unique blessings and challenges.
The truth is, the empty nest does too. In actuality, it is simply another season of life. There are joys – less laundry/cooking/cleaning, and more time to pursue what you want to pursue, whether it be travel, fitness, work, or a hobby. There are also challenges – physical changes, caring for aging parents, reconnecting with your spouse. For me, the biggest challenge, though, was redefining myself as a woman in today’s fast-paced world. I think I was so accustomed to responding to the needs of my family, that focusing on myself just felt uncomfortable for a while. I hear that from a lot of empty nesters.
So what can you do right now to prepare yourself for the empty nest? Here are a few suggestions, and some links to resources that might help you as you think intentionally about this next season of life. (Click on the books for more information.)
Finish Strong – Don’t check out just yet! When each of our children started their senior year of high school, we gave them fair warning. We told them that we had a lot still to teach them before they left us, and we were going to spend the coming year doing just that. Throughout that year, we started out many conversations by saying, “Since you aren’t going to be here next year, we need to show you how to do this, tell you about this,” etc. The pain of disciplining yourself to finish strong is much less than the pain of regret you will feel if you don’t.