Next (Baby) Steps for the New Empty Nester

Empty Nest Blessed by Suzy Mighell

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If you’re reeling because you’re a new empty nester, know that the dazed fog you are currently experiencing is normal. You may feel somewhat paralyzed, and unable to move forward. The transition to life as an empty nester is a big one, and it will take some time to adjust. While you need to take the time to grieve the passing of a significant life stage, you don’t want to get “stuck” in grief. Remember that you may feel sad, but this is really what you worked for as a parent. You need to celebrate a job well done! Your kids are ready to grow and learn on their own, and you’ve prepared them to face the future. There are some great things about the empty nest, I promise! If you need a little nudge to help you move forward, it’s understandable. Here are eight simple next steps.

1. Take back the house.

Be honest. There was stuff that was driving you crazy. Schedule the carpet cleaners. Make plans to repaint. Clean out the fridge and some closets. Throw out the chipped china and order replacements. Whether you are thinking of downsizing or not, these things are always a good idea.

2. Take stock of your relationships.

How’s the health of your marriage? Are you single? Maybe it’s time to get back out there. Do you have parents that need your attention? Friends you miss? My husband and I made a list of couple friends that we hadn’t spent time with in a while and made plans to meet one couple a month for dinner over the course of a year.

3. Address nagging health issues.

How long has it been since you’ve had a physical? Midlife is the time to take charge of health issues that you may have been avoiding. Join a gym or dust off your treadmill and commit to getting back into shape. (Need some motivation? Look at the health and fitness section of my website.)

4. Do some fun “empty-nesty” stuff.

Do some things just because you can and relish them! Buy your favorite ice cream and enjoy the fact that no one will steal it. Take a nap, a bubble bath, or go to the movies in the middle of the afternoon. Sign up to volunteer for a cause you love, take a class, or go on a date on a weeknight. (Click here for some fun date ideas.)

5. Embrace the quiet and solitude.

Play your music and turn it up loud! Watch what you want to watch on TV. (There are no critics around to make fun of your choices.) In the quiet, you can hear yourself think and even talk to yourself. Hot flash? Stand naked in front of the freezer door if you want. The dog won’t care, and your husband might actually like it. 🙂

6. Plan a trip.

One of the great things about being an empty nester is not having a vacation schedule that’s tied to the school schedule. In fact, many resorts and cruise lines slash their rates by up to 50% in September and October. Whether you plan a weekend getaway, a bigger trip, or both, you will love looking forward to an adventure. (See the travel section of my website for ideas.)

7. Play catch up.

What did you put on the back burner while you were focused on raising kids? It’s okay to shift some of that focus to yourself now. Not sure about the latest in fashion or beauty? Need help learning how to parent adult kids? Need a faith boost? You’ve come to the right place! Browse my archives or sign up for my mailing list, so you don’t miss any upcoming posts on these topics and more.

8. Treat yourself.

You deserve it! Buy yourself something as small as a new lipstick (here’s my latest fave), new nail polish (try this brand if you’re a DIYer), or even a new handbag (I just bought myself this tote for my birthday.). When our nest first emptied, I went a little candle crazy, and my poor husband came home every night to my new “favorite” candle! (I’ve now settled on just one real favorite and he is so relieved!) I pulled it again on the poor guy when I bought a pitcher with a fruit and tea infuser core, and he never knew what flavor was going to accompany dinner each night.

If you’re a new empty nester or even an empty nester that may have gotten “stuck,” consider taking some of these steps forward. You were a woman before you were a mother, and you were made for more than motherhood. Take the time you need to adjust and embrace this new stage of your life. Need more help? I have resources on my website that I’ve pulled together especially for soon-to-be empty nesters, new empty nesters, and even long-time empty nesters.

Leave me a comment and let me know how you’re adjusting, okay?





Photo by Megan Weaver.
Makeup by Bebe Tran.


Suzy Mighell

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  1. Melody,
    Thanks for the encouragement and wise words. Isn’t it funny how we plan to do something but the tyranny of the urgent just takes over? I’m as guilty as anyone there! Have a wonderful weekend! xoxo Suzy

  2. Aw, Donna, how sweet! I am not sure if I’ve conquered it, but I am trying to be content and bloom where I am planted, that’s for sure. The Lord has a plan for all of our lives, and this latter third is full of blessings AND challenges, just like every other stage, don’t you think? Thanks so much for your kind and encouraging words. xoxo Suzy

  3. NYLA, Thank you so much for sharing those words of wisdom from just beyond where many of the new empty nesters are sitting right now. It DOES get better, doesn’t it? Your words were so encouraging and I so grateful you shared them with us. I’m so glad you and your husband are enjoying the sweetness of your time together and those 7 wonderful grands!!! WOW! What a blessing. xoxo Suzy

  4. Julia,
    Aw, so sweet! You’re so welcome. I hope you’re doing okay! It’s a big change and you just need to give it time. I have lots of other posts on the empty nest under the “empty nest” tab in my navigation bar on the website. Also, there are some great resources I recommend in the “New Empty Nesters” section on the dropdown under the “Resources” tab. I hope they help! Thinking of you. Please stay in touch! xoxo Suzy

  5. I am stuck in this journey. It has been 7 years but my son didn’t leave the going off to college way. I woke up to my husband dead 20 years ago. My son was 2 and actually he woke me up and said Daddy’s still sleeping. I never let him see me cry. My son is HFA which makes this all the more hard. I wound up in a sanitarium since I have been since 13 years old. My son was a wonderful child but after the shot he got at 14 he just wasn’t right after that. We made as plan while there he said “I am literal and she is emotional”. So we made a plan and he said one day “If you love me you’ll send me away” at 15 1/2 and for 4 years while he was in 3rd to 7th grade at Kurn Hattin which movie stars kids go there he had to go do to the violence and drugs at our complex and him being bullied everyday. So at the end of that he said he was bullied there and I’m like that’s one of the main reasons I sent you there why didn’t you tell me. I know my son loves me because he told me but he makes few attempts to come see me. I want to be better at being an adults mom. You would think with that time although my son came home every 2 weeks and summers was home. He remarked one day well you weren’t there for most of my life that hurt because everything I did was for him. I just want him to visit more. They wouldn’t even take money they said I needed it more than them. I just feel I failed and he’s getting me back for his past. Can you tell me how to move on?

    1. Crystal,
      I am so sorry to hear of your struggles. I am not a professional counselor, and I think that is what you need. Your son is an adult and you need to be able to move forward in your life as an individual just like he does. Please reach out to someone who is more qualified to help you than I am. xoxo Suzy

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