The day I became a mother was the happiest day of my life. I know it isn’t in fashion now, but my husband and I agreed that I should stay at home with our two boys, and I have never regretted the decision for a minute. I got to see their first steps, their first days of school every year, and all of their at-home games.
Now it is time for another first, and I’m not so thrilled. When our eldest boy decided to work for a year to raise more money for college, I was secretly relieved. I wouldn’t have to part with him just yet.
This fall, both boys have been accepted to schools out-of-state. I am already panicking! The house is going to be so empty and I am going to miss them so much. My whole life has been built around my sons. Now what am I going to do?
Soon-To-Be Early Nester
Dear Early Nester,
Fortunately, Mother Hen knows a thing or two about having an empty nest. Both her chicks flew the coop earlier than expected, and rearranging the straw got old really fast. Here are some thoughts on making the adjustment.
1. Stay busy!
If you have time on your hands without kids around the house, what about volunteering? Take a class in something that you always thought you would like to try, but never got around to checking out. Pursue a hobby. Join a book club (check at your local library). Attend a place of worship, if you are so inclined, and try some of the activities there. Moms can go back to school too, you know — many colleges and universities offer courses geared to mature students, whether you wanted to pursue a degree or diploma, or just take an unaccredited class. Take up a sport suited to the mature adult: tennis, golf, bowling, or curling are four that come to mind.
2. Pursue romance.
You don’t say whether you have a husband or significant other on the scene. If you do, it is time to focus more on the two of you. Suggest a weekend getaway or a full-fledged holiday, something to look forward to and plan for.
Do some of the above (#1) activities together and find something new in common.
If you are on your own, look into activities for singles, or go places where quality guys hang out (see suggestion #1, and find a new interest).
3. Take care of yourself.
Join a gym. Try an exercise DVD now that there is no one at home to make fun of you!
Pamper yourself with a facial, manicure, or pedicure at home, or if you can afford it, at a spa. Get a new haircut. Buy some new clothes in a style or color that you usually wouldn’t try. Get a massage and/or chiropractic session.
4. Make more time for friendships.
My mom belonged to a couple of ladies’ social groups that have became her support network as well as being a lot of fun. The Red Hat Society is one example of a group of women who have banded together for female companionship.
If you don’t know of such a club, maybe you can start one. Typical group activities could include: a book club, attending plays, bus trips, scrap-booking, craft sessions, tours, dinner dates, fundraising activity for charity, weekends away, shopping trips, scavenger hunts, car rallies, festivals and so much more!
5. Stay in touch with the kids.
Write emails. Use a web-cam. Give your sons pre-paid long distance cards. Send care packages. Make up a photo album for each of them. Create a recipe card file of easy or favorite dishes. Send free ecards. Send regular greeting cards by snail-mail. Make up a first-aid kit. Make lunch dates or meet for coffee.
Hope that something here appeals! The main thing is to realize that this is not simply an ending, but a new beginning as well. An old dog may not be able to learn new tricks, but we wise older hens have ways of out-foxing the empty nest blues!