We got comfortable with our adult child living with us and now our empty nest looms large. What now?
My youngest daughter is leaving in four days to move to another state. At age 25, she has lived on her own before but I encouraged her to move back home to save money for a house. While working a well-paying, full-time job, she’s been living with us for over a year. But life can change course on a dime.
One morning recently, she announced she had found a house nearby that she wanted to buy. ”Great!” I said, and we proceeded to work toward that goal. Then, out of the blue, a job opportunity arose that would take her to a wonderful city and a new life 500 miles away almost immediately. She gave her job – and us – her two weeks notice! It’s been a whirlwind ever since. This past week, it’s been fun helping her prepare for this new chapter; finding a short-term place to live in the new city, planning what to take and what to leave and buying a new, more substantial car.
Suddenly an Empty Nest
Very soon, and suddenly, we will be empty nesters of sorts. Our older daughter is a flight attendant based in the northeast. She is absent most of the time but her layovers here are frequent enough for it to make sense that she keep a room in our home. My mother, who is a joy, resides with us permanently.
Smart Boomerang Kids
I think you could call my two daughters “boomerang kids” in the most positive way possible. Both have lived on their own and have returned home for periods of time to save money while earning income upwards of $50,000 at their jobs. Luckily, their living at home after college doesn’t constitute a “failure to launch” situation. Instead, it makes good financial sense. Returning home for a period of time allowed them to pay off student loan debt and save for a home of their own. As they each leave home for good, they will be in a much more secure financial position for the next chapter in their lives.
Empty Nest for Good
As a mother of boomerang children, I’ve experienced the loss of their leaving and mixed emotions of their returning home numerous times. You’d think it wouldn’t faze me but it does. This marks the first time a child is moving out for good. This time, I know my younger daughter will never live with us again. She’s moving with her boyfriend and within a year they will be buying a house together.
I have known this day was coming. I’m not sure I’m prepared for it. While I am thrilled for her to be starting an exciting new phase, I’m wondering how I am going to cope with her absence.
Downside of Being an Empty Nester
Having much more time on my hands will be a fallout of having my daughter leave the nest. Living within arms reach, we enjoy spending hours together, talking, strategizing and thinking creatively out loud. I’ll miss our deep conversations and light-hearted banter. I’ll miss the opportunity to offer her gentle guidance when she’s asked for it. I’ll miss her.
She plans to leave the beautiful furniture she bought for her bedroom as a cozy place to return to on visits home. I’ve already started imagining her room without her in it – or her personal things. She’ll be taking the blue butterfly encased in glass that reminds her of her departed grandfather as well as her everyday belongings and momentoes. The room will remain beautiful but devoid of her.
How to Cope With Having an Empty Nest
Once she drives off, her new car packed with necessary and familiar belongings to set up her new home, I’ll be wondering what to do with myself – no matter how much planning I do ahead of time. Here’s my short list of things to do to help with this transition:
- Exercise on a more regular basis. I plan to get up a little earlier and walk or ride my bike every morning. This will be a joyful start to the day and give me a dedicated, healthy way to process my thoughts.
- Cook more. It’s been difficult to plan the meals I prefer to eat because my daughter eats a restricted diet. I plan to start a Paleo diet.
- Declutter. Now would be a great time to declutter another closet or two. When she comes to collect the items we are storing for her in our garage, I’ll be able to declutter it as well.
- Connect with friends. Since my daughter’s job required her to work from home part of each day, I have enjoyed being at home with her. I’ll have more time to schedule lunches and other activities with friends.
- Write more. I’m building this blog and starting another blog simultaneously. It will be a good distraction to have two projects near and dear to my heart to focus on.
- Travel with my older daughter. My older daughter travels to fabulous and interesting places for work and for fun. I plan to meet her at a few of her stops for some special times with her.
- Shower my husband with attention. With kids around, even grown kids, parents just naturally continue to focus on their kids more than themselves or each other. I’ll be planning some special meals and nights out with the hubster and maybe even some travel.
- Spend more time with my mother. At 89, my mother leads an active social life. I’ll have more time to do activities with her – if she can squeeze me in!
- Find new ways to stay connected long distance. Thank goodness for technology that will allow my daughter and me to text, Facetime and call to stay close. I’m confident we’ll settle into a new normal that will soon feel comfortable and natural. And I’m lobbying for her to create a guest room that I can pop into as often as she will have me!
Leaving the nest is what we parents prepare our children for all of their lives. Too often, we fail to prepare ourselves for it. With this short list of activities, I hope to ease the loneliness I know I’ll experience when my fully grown up daughter has finally and officially flown the coop.
If this post strikes a chord with you, you would enjoy the discussions going on here.
How did you handle your child’s leaving the nest? How did your life change?