Releasing the Empty Nest
Empty nest is a season that I see friends and family going through and not always with grace. If an empty nest is something you are facing read on. If not this is still for you. You just may want to plan for this season or pass it on to a friend in need. Trust me it happens even if your kids are just toddling around. Planning now is better than just wishing the day won’t come. It does and it will hurt your heart if you aren’t ready.
What I have to say will also not be the most popular viewpoint. I’m about to give some hard truths. I’m also going to give you some steps to move you to the best part of empty nesting. I keep hearing how sad and hurt my friends are when their kids leave for college or move away. Take heart friends, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Dreading the Empty Nest
I’ve lost track of how many people have talked about their sadness. Some of you start dreading this season years before it even happens. I hear, how much they miss their kids. How they are hoping their kids might visit them on the weekend. It is heart breaking you guys, to hear friends and family not willing to move on with their own lives because they don’t want to be away from their kids or grandchildren. If there’s even a slight possibility they might come visit, they stay in a home where all the memories linger. It contributes to the hole in their heart.
They make themselves the go to babysitter for the grand-babies. Or they cancel plans or won’t make plans waiting to see their adult children and grandchildren’s schedules. Which is not in itself a bad thing but when it becomes the excuse for doing something for yourself, that’s just not emotionally healthy. It also teaches your adult children nothing. Stop the guilt train right now and be a little less available, no one will wonder what’s wrong. They may see healthy boundaries and that’s a good thing teach everyone.
Case in point. It’s time to downsize your home but you tell yourself that you will need all 4 bedrooms at the holidays when family comes into town. Really? Once or twice a year is not a good reason to walk around a home that only contributes to your sadness because it’s devoid of all the faces you still want around.
Hear me clearly, I’m not saying do something like move across the country because your kids are out of the house. What I am saying is do what is best for you first. Not a new concept, but one you probably haven’t thought of in years. You can put yourself first. I give you permission to do that. Say it louder for the people in the back, you can put yourself first.
If moving to another state (which we personally just did) makes financial sense or is better for your health or is some place you’ve always want to live, then do it.
Empty Nest Depression
Empty nest depression is real, and it starts with how you raise your children. One of the most important things you can do is to teach them to leave you. Learning to let them go into the world with grace and without guilt is as important potty training. Potty training happens no matter what we do. The same thing goes for children becoming adults and moving out. You might as well teach them from the beginning that they are born to fly, and you are going to be okay if they do.
Letting go starts from the moment they are born. I’m not going to tell you how to parent, but I am going to talk about how to let go no matter what parenting stage you are in.
If you find yourself, texting, calling, tagging them in Social Media to get a response because you are wondering what’s up with them, it’s time to examine your emotional health. Depression is real friends and how you are viewing your season of life can contribute to empty nest depression.
Your Empty Nest is Not Empty
It’s a mindset. If all you see is an empty bedroom, one less face at dinner you are not doing yourself any favors. If you are married, you are not doing your marriage any favors either. It’s time to shift your mind to the future and create the space for new beginnings.
Set a new goal. Make it a goal that is specific. Maybe it will require you to learn something new. It could be something you’ve wanted to do for years but had forgotten about. Whatever the goal is write it down and then write down 3 steps you can do in the next 30 days to start moving towards that goal.
Journal gratefulness. Write down 3 things every day that you are grateful for. That could be anything from your morning coffee to waking up to a beautiful day. Take time to relax and let yourself be grateful and just not for your kids, but about things you’ve forgotten about. If you can’t think of 3 things every day; that’s a red flag that you’ve been stuck in an unhealthy mindset and it’s time for a change.
Plan a vacation. A vacation without trying to include your adult children. You know what I mean, don’t check in with them to see what they think, don’t ask them if they would like to go too. That means you and your spouse or friends do something together. Where have you always wanted to go but never could because you were busy raising children? Pro-tip for extra credit, don’t call your kids while you are on vacation.
Enjoying Your Empty Nest
If you take anything away from your years of parenting let it be that each season of life is to be embraced. That each season of life is to be full of abundance.
When you see those empty bedrooms, do something with them. Create a guest room, craft room, office or den. I even know of one person who expanded the master bedroom closet and created their dream walk-in closet. It was impressive.
The point is switching from dread and sadness to enjoying this time of your life. If you are looking for more direction, I would be honored to help.