Summer is waning (though you wouldn’t know it by the heat!) and for many families, the kids are headed back to school. For some of you, this is not your normal “back to school,” but also the beginning of your Empty Nest.
You’ve thought about it for years, maybe even dreaded it, and now reality hits. Your main focus in life has changed, and you have a hollow feeling. Now what?
I know just how you feel. I experienced that same feeling of loss. But I quickly emerged in eager anticipation of what I could create to fill my time and life has never been any better for me than it is now. Make this a time for new beginnings, a time to take care of your needs for a change.
Follow these steps to embrace the opportunities that being an Empty Nester bring.
- Congratulate yourself on a job well done. As a mother, your biggest job was to raise your children to be responsible young adults with strong values and self-confidence. You have watched your babies grow into adults, and now they are on their own. Good job, Mom! No one could have done your job like you. Celebrate your own accomplishment knowing that your children really do appreciate you, whether they acknowledge it now or not. The older they get, the more they will appreciate all you have taught them.
- Let go. Your young adult is looking forward to independence, to exploring the world and living on his own. Don’t smother him! My daughter had a friend in college whose mother called her several times a day. That poor girl was saddled with her mother’s needs for years. Know that you have taught your child well; there is no need for you to check in daily. Stepping back allows him to grow. When your help is needed, he will ask.
- Focus on you now! Women are naturally givers, always putting others first while depleting their own physical, emotional, and spiritual selves. Now is the prime time to replenish your body and soul, so take some time to relax and rejuvenate you. Have a spa day, go on a girlfriend getaway, do something fun. You deserve it. And make it a regular thing, knowing that when you fill your own cup first, you will have more energy and joy to do the things you love while serving others.
- Rekindle the romance. Chances are you have been so busy raising your children that your love life has been put on the back burner. Make a concerted effort to get to know your husband or significant other all over again. Have regular date nights, plan weekend trips and enjoy the peace and quiet around the house. Sometime after we became “home alone,” my husband and I took a trip to Italy. It was the first time we had been on a vacation by ourselves in 27 years. What a great time it was for us to let go and have fun, to get reacquainted. Get away for even a couple of days with no TV, computers or phones, and re-live the time when you first met. Now that you can give him your full attention without interruptions, your relationship can flourish.
- Cultivate new friendships. For most of us, the friends we have had over the years have been the parents of our children’s friends. Suddenly we realize that we really don’t have much in common with them, and we all drift apart. That is very common, so don’t worry. Now is the time for you to choose new friends to spend time with, women who share your interests and who energize you. Regard your “old friends” as treasured acquaintances, and look forward to cultivating new relationships. Look around for groups that focus on your interests, filled with women who are interesting and fun, and enjoy the opportunity to surround yourself with new girlfriends.
- Reinvent yourself. Move forward from this day in eager anticipation of what your future holds. Allow yourself to “dream big and step out on faith.” Set some new goals for yourself that stretch you and make you grow. You have been a nurse, chef, mediator, accountant, chauffeur, housekeeper, volunteer, counselor, master teacher, and many other things over the years. You can do anything you set your mind to! Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the chance? Now is the time. Are you ready for a career change, or even for a chance to start your own business? Go for it. There has never been a better time to follow your own dreams and desires, so begin visioning a new-and-improved you. Let those who love and support you be your cheerleader for a change. Live with purpose and excitement as your turn your “empty nest” into a rich and fulfilling time to spread your own wings and fly.
Susan Tolles is the founder of Flourish Over 50, with a passion to inspire women over 50 to live abundant lives. Through a website, videos, workshops, and personal coaching, Susan encourages and equips women to dream big and step out on faith, with self-confidence and joy. Visit her at www.flourishover50.com .