When your empty nest fills up for the holidays, it’s an adjustment. Oh, it’s on, empty nesters. Not only is your peaceful, quiet, clean nest upended, but your workload multiplies. I hear you loud and clear. I’ve already been to the grocery store every single day this week! Hahahaha! (Lemme just say, these people eat a lot. And I forgot that!)
But if you’re like me, none of that matters. When your empty nest fills up again, your focus will be on your kids, and your joy at having your chicks home to roost will be boundless. So how can you make the most of the time you have with your adult kids this holiday season? What can you do to strengthen relationships and build trust with those you love? Today, I’m sharing my game plan!
1. Be Intentional
Spend time thinking about your goals for your time with your kids. What are your goals? How do you plan to accomplish them? (I highly recommend committing this to paper.)
When my adult children are home, my goals are always the same: (1) To make our home and family a fun and positive place where they love to spend time; (2) To build them up and encourage them. Ideally, having those two clear-cut goals will impact every word out of my mouth and everything I do.
2. Adjust Your Expectations
Whether we realize it or not, we all have expectations of how the holidays should look and feel. (I completely blame artists Norman Rockwell and Thomas Kinkade for this!) In addition, when our kids come home, we have a tendency to make assumptions about how our interactions and conversations will go. This is a dangerous business! Don’t fall for it. No one can live up to these kinds of expectations. Not you. Not your kids. Think about your goals and resolve to go with the flow as much as possible.
3. Be Positive and Radiate Love
When your kids are adults, your relationship with them shifts from one of parenting to one of friendship. If you want to stay relevant and important in their lives, you need to learn to be a good friend to them! Good friends are good listeners; they ask good questions; they are respectful, encouraging, supportive, and thoughtful. They don’t give advice without being asked. If you want your kids to think of you as their friend, you’ll need to be the kind of friend they enjoy being around and can trust with their hearts. If you’re like me, this will not come naturally! Why? Because when it comes to our kids, our default is still to parent them. Don’t fall into that trap! When you do (and you will), apologize and tell them you’re working on it. For more on this topic, see this post.
4. Keep Your Sense of Humor
Don’t take yourself too seriously! Be quick to laugh at situations that will occur, mishaps that will arise, and especially at yourself. Look for the humor in the YouTube videos your kids show you (my young adult kids are obsessed) and the funny stories they tell. Laughter makes everything better.
5. Lean on Your Support System
Undoubtedly, there will be times that you need to talk through a situation or even vent over the holidays. That’s totally normal. Make plans with your spouse or a trusted friend to be that support system for each other. I rely on my faith, my husband, and sometimes even deep breathing exercises (!) when things get exasperating or frustrating.
I don’t know about you, but when the house fills up, I don’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m wearing! My default? I tend to grab a monochromatic, always chic, all-black look. I might add my cashmere Burberry scarf or some fun red booties or shoes, but most of the time, I just keep it simple and classic with all black. I think the real secret to a monochromatic look is to add a special piece, whether it’s a rabbit fur vest like mine, or a sparkly belt, or some ruffled booties. My long sleeve tee is on sale for $8 from Target’s A New Day line. (I own four of the whopping 15 colors available in this line because it makes such a great layering piece!). My jeans are NYDJ’s straight leg Marilyn style (because I keep getting emails from y’all begging me to wear something besides skinny jeans! Hahahaha!). I rolled them up so you could get a good look at my easy-to-wear block heeled booties. (Mine are from last year, similar options here and here.)
What do you do to strengthen relationships with those you love? I’d love to know your tips for making the most of the holidays with your kids. Please leave me a comment below and share your advice! You guys have so much wisdom!
P.S. Are you finished shopping? If not, many retailers will still deliver in time for Christmas for a fee, or you can order and do in-store pick up. December 20 is the last day to ship Priority Mail and 2nd Day Air and December 21 is the last day to ship UPS Next Day Air. Still need ideas? Head to the Empty Nest Blessed Holiday Gift Guide for some last minute inspiration!
Photos by Megan Weaver.