Have you been wallowing in tears, carrying around your baby’s old blanket while you go room to room in your house feeling lost? Is your baby’s grown, and your friends are wondering why you’re such a basket case?
You are suffering from empty-nest syndrome.
Which is similar to someone getting a limb removed and then having the wound stabbed about fifty times. This can be a time in your life where you feel completely overwhelmed with grief…but I’m here to help you smell the roses!
I am your God and will take care of you
until you are old and your hair is gray.
I made you and will care for you;
I will give you help and rescue you. — Isaiah 46:4
It’s been a year since my children have all moved out and I will be honest it took me about ten months to adjust to this new life. Well, I actually have 4/5 empty nest. My son Kyle who has autism will hopefully be living with us forever. But having the younger four gone was not a smooth transition. Changes in family life can be devastating.
God knew this mama was going to need some distractions and blessed me with a new adventure: becoming an author and blogger. Having one’s children fly the nest is not as natural as you envisioned it when they were small, and keeping you up at night, pooping on your new dress, or having a temper tantrum in the grocery store while you look like that mama.
In those moments you console yourself with….one day…sigh.
Then the day comes, and you’re not ready for it. The house is way too quiet, and you look around, feeling completely lost, and know someone ran off with your ” Mom” identity also. You think to yourself, “This is rotten!”
Who am I?
Do I matter anymore?
Will my life feel normal again?
Time for an Assessment
Are you in this stage right now? Do you have way too much extra time and not enough ideas to fill it? I’m here to help you, I was where you were exactly a year ago.
How can a mother get back her groove after the kids have flown the coop? You have an abundance of choices in your vision now. Think of it like going to a cafe and there are a thousand options to make your favourite coffee, and you now get to pick one tailored just for you!
Time for Some Fun!
Like the coffee menu above, you now have many options to pick from on the empty- nest menu. But don’t let this list hinder you, it’s so much bigger than this, the sky’s the limit! But let’s take a peek together and see if anything might appeal to you:
1. Clean out the house. Okay, this isn’t very fun, but you need to do this task. Take everything the kids left behind and bring it to goodwill or auction it off online.
*Warning: this will cause you to come across old pictures of the kids, and you will cry a little, bring Kleenex to each room. Try not to fall asleep on their beds after years of exhaustion.
2. Hosting. Once the house is cleaned out, you now have a couple of spare rooms. In room #1 make a guest room and invite friends or relatives to visit. Do a happy dance in this room because you get to paint it whatever colour you want and can now take down the unsightly posters of their favourite movie stars and vocal artists.
3. Hobbies In spare room #2, this is now your Dream room. Is there something you always wanted to do but never had the time? Scrapbooking, sewing, working out, painting, blogging, crafting… breathing. This is your room, enjoy!
4. Physical Health. You have most likely been neglecting your own physical health for years. Now’s the time to dust off the treadmill your clothes are hanging on in the bedroom, or get out the three hundred exercise videos you never even took the wrapper off and start using them. You may also want to coerce a girlfriend into joining a gym with you, even better, your husband.
*Disclaimer: If you and your husband join a CrossFit gym and he beats you at the workouts this leads to a really annoying bragging rant that may cause you to hit him over the head with a frying pan. I am not responsible for your prison sentence.
5. Volunteering. Spend some time at your local church, soup kitchen nursing home, hospital, or favourite charity will enrich your life and those of the people you are serving. I actually got into fundraising through various events and really enjoy it.
6. Love on Others. If the empty nest is not your cup of tea, then you might be a good candidate for being a foster parent. We have many friends who have fostered and loved being a parent to children who needed a home.
7. New Career. If you have been a full-time stay-at-home-mom, you may want to get a part-time job or start your own business. You have talents, use them in your new career.
8. Go back to school. Yes, this is an option for you no matter what age you are. I met an incredible lady who at eighty years old was still taking university courses because she loved to learn. Here’s your chance to learn photography, massage, art, a new language, drama, law or business.
9. Travel. My absolute favourite hobby! Have you not travelled in a few decades? Now, more than ever travel is at it’s cheapest. Here’s your chance to see the world while you are still young.
10. Friends. Join a bible study or support group for women who are going through the empty nest. Or better yet, start one yourself. Invite all your girlfriends who are going through this journey to come have coffee and tea together once a week and share your ideas, tears, and laughter.
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
and the pleasantness of a friend springs
from their heartfelt advice. -Proverbs 27: 9
If all of the above options bring you no happiness or joy, invite the kids to move back home. You might have to bribe them with free home-cooked meals, laundry service, and the magical cleaning fairy. If they say no, look across the table at that handsome man you’ve been living with for twenty years and spend some time rekindling your romance. You might actually enjoy conversing with each other without being interrupted by bickering.
I love talking to other women about their empty-nest experiences. My friends Sherie always wanted to do drama, so when her daughters flew the coop, due to marriage and university, she had some spare time and joined her local theatre hoping to get a little part in a musical, but landed the lead role instead! Her family is cheering her on and is so proud of her. I am really looking forward to her debut and seeing her dreams unfold.
Guilt is something you will feel after all your kids leave. If you went at a crazy pace for a couple of decades and have now slowed down, you will feel a sense of, “Something is wrong, I should be working every minute of the day and then some.”
Take a deep breath….exhale.
Give yourself permission and time to relax, and enjoy this new and incredible journey. You earned it. You’ve been investing in others since you were most likely in your early twenties, now you can take some time to dream.
Is there something you really wanted to do but are afraid to try? Pray first, and if you have peace about it, I want to encourage you to pursue that very thing? You may be scared but don’t let that hinder you. As long as you still have time for your husband, family and God…go for it!
For I’m going to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Don’t you see it? I will make a road through the wilderness of the world for my people to go home, and create rivers for them in the desert! -Isiaha 43:19
I am super excited for you, and I would love to hear about your incredible empty-nest adventures! Would you be willing to write me and share your stories? I will do a second post about a few women’s journeys to sanity.
I hope this post helps you want to embrace this new and exciting roller coaster you are on, and that you love it as much as I have. You just need to get past the Kleenex stage. You will get there…God will carry you through, he already has a beautiful plan for your future.
You have done many things for us, O Lord our God;
there is no one like you!
You have made many wonderful plans for us.
I could never speak of them all—
their number is so great!- Psalms 40:5