How To Strengthen Relationships When Your Empty Nest Fills Up

Empty Nest Blessed by Suzy Mighell
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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!)

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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!

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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 and  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.

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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.

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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!

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  1. Cathy,
    Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Aren’t those jeans amazing?! They feel so good! Thanks so much for your sweet comment! xoxo Suzy

  2. Hello, Suzy! I am the blessed Mom of three twenty-somethings. I’m a Texan by birth, and now a northern Indiana transplant. 🙂 One special time we try to have when everyone’s home (which is only about once a year since one lives overseas and the other two are in different states) is something my sons taught us from their boy scout days. We each share three things that happened since we were last together… a rose (something that’s a blessing in our lives), a thorn (something rough that has happened), and a bud (something that we’re looking forward to). This can get deep or stay simple — depending on what the sharer feels comfortable sharing. For us, it usually turns into things we can praise God for, as well as pray for over the next months that we’re apart. It’s really become a very special part of our time together. Suzy, THANK YOU for all you’ve shared with us readers in 2022! Merry Christmas to you and to all of your readers! 🙂 Love, LE

    1. (Sorry, everyone! That’s a pic of my handsome son beside my name – not sure how that popped up, but just wanted to provide a lil explanation about why there’s a BOY’s pic in this thread that’s meant for us GALS!) ~ Laura

    2. Laura,

      I LOVE that idea! What a precious tradition. You’re such a good mama and teaching your kids to focus on gratitude and hope! I love this so much. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful idea!

      Merry Christmas to you and your sweet family! (Also, your son is very handsome!😂)


  3. Merry Christmas! Your blog is always delightful and informative! I pray you and your family have a peaceful memory making Christmas!

  4. Such a great post and spot on. One other thing I try to do is keep their workload light when they are at my home. My son and wife are newlyweds adjusting to adulting life and doing an amazing job. They work hard and then make the effort to come here so I try to make it easy. I have meals planned, extra toiletries, fun snacks, and just enough of a schedule to keep things rolling. My daughter in law told me that she so appreciates coming here and getting a little spoiled, feeling like a bit of kid again ;). It’s so fun!

    1. Kerry,

      That is precious! I love that and will remember it! Thank you so much for sharing. Happy New Year to you and your family! (They are so blessed to have such a thoughtful mom & mother-in-law!)


  5. Merry Christmas! Thank you for everything you do. I truly love reading your posts! This one is so relevant right now and made me stop and think about my goals for this time and being intentional about the time spent with my daughters. I hope you have a blessed holiday!

    1. Kelley,

      Thank you! I was praying it would be a blessing to someone, and I’m so thrilled to know you found it helpful! I find that intentionality is key with adult kids – at least it is for me!


  6. Another great and helpful post. I liked your comments about being intentional in creating a fun and positive space so one’s adult children want to be there.

    1. Laura,

      Thank you for your kind comment! I want our home to be somewhere they look forward to coming to – so they know that it will always be a place of joy, fun, and encouragement! Happy New Year to you and your family!


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