One day your house is full of snacks, backpacks, shoes thrown everywhere, and dirty dishes. There is a lot of laughter and chaos. Empty nesting hasn’t even crossed your mind. Yes, there are also tears and raised voices. Kids forgetting this and that. Losing things. Running late. They all need one thing or another, and you are the ringleader of the circus. Then, they leave. Maybe they go to college, maybe they get their first job and move out. Suddenly, all the chaos comes to a screeching halt. Are you prepared? What do you do when the ringleader of the circus is only required during school breaks?
A lot of resources you find about empty nesting talk about ‘reconnecting’ with yourself once your kids have gone. There’s always some amount of reconnection, but reconnecting means you’ve lost connection. What if there were things you could do to help you maintain connection with yourself before your kids fly the nest? How can you still be YOU when so much of your attention and energy is focused on helping your kids learn to become who they are?
I would argue that this plagues a lot of us moms. In the process of helping our kids become connected with who they are, we lose track of ourselves. The process is a gradual and invisible one, and moms often look up and suddenly feel unsure of what comes next.
When your kids leave the nest, you can be left standing there empty, sad, confused, and lonely. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You could feel all those things while also feeling excited about your life. Want to go for a walk at 3:30 when your kids would usually be coming home? Go ahead! Want to hike when you would usually be watching a soccer game? Do it! Want to take a class on a Saturday when you would usually be volunteering to help with a school band fundraiser? You can!
You can start preparing right now for the empty nest in the tiniest of ways. Sure, it will still feel empty sometimes, but it can also be filled with new joys. They don’t replace the kids being around, of course, but those joys can be fulfilling, growth-producing and fun! Stay connected with yourself during these years of parenting and plan for YOUR life once they leave home. Contact me if you’d like to learn more.