When your last child leaves home, it can bring about mixed emotions, a state commonly known as Empty Nest Syndrome. You might beam with pride thinking of your kid’s achievements, but you might also feel unsure about how to transition to an empty nest. You might even feel excited about finding purpose as an empty nester or about experiencing one-on-one adventures with your spouse or partner. Whether you’re excited for this new era in your life or a bit uneasy about what’s next, these five tips for empty nesters can help you start the next chapter with confidence.
1. Find Yourself
Raising kids sometimes involves sacrificing your own needs and wants. But now’s the time for finding yourself as an empty nester. Likely, you’ve changed in the last 18-plus years. What interests you? Have you always wanted to train for a marathon but never had the time? Is there a creative hobby you’ve been wanting to try? Take time to think about what makes you happy, what excites you and what things in your life you’d like to change.
2. Then, Reinvent Yourself
Now, make some changes! Reinventing yourself as an empty nester doesn’t mean you need to become a new person. Instead, don’t be afraid to try new things, set ambitious goals and build a life you enjoy — even if you have to step out of your comfort zone.
3. Take Stock of Your Relationships
As a parent, you focus on bonding with your kids, which means the bonds you have with others may have loosened over time. If you want to reignite connections with old friends, plan a get-together or a weekend away. Likewise, you can discover new ways to spend time with your partner by researching hobbies you can do together as an empty nest couple. If you’re a single parent, meet new people by joining local meetup groups.
On the other hand, there might be relationships you’d like to let go of. Don’t be afraid to let friendships fizzle if they’re sapping your energy rather than refreshing you. Embrace and enjoy this new phase of your life!
4. Make Space
A full household can quickly accumulate stuff that causes a room to lose its functionality or potential. Take time to go through your closets, cabinets, attic and other storage spaces and get rid of the things you no longer need. Look at each room with new eyes and free up previously kid-designated hangout spaces for indulging in your own hobbies. If you’ve kept a study nook for your children, for example, perhaps it can now be your yoga or meditation spot. Alternatively, you may find that you’d like to downsize your living space for something that’s more manageable to maintain with a smaller payment that frees up resources.
5. Reassess Your Finances
Take a close look at your budget and where your money has been going. With your child away at school, you’ll likely have different spending habits, such as a smaller grocery or gas bill. Look for ways to free up cash that you can put toward a long term goal, like a dream vacation, a kitchen remodel or an earlier-than-planned retirement. Even if you’re still providing some financial support to your child over the next few years, you may see opportunities for a more flexible budget and find ways to treat yourself.