The Empty Nest: Are You Ready?

As the mother of a grown son who lives on another continent, my nest is definitely empty. Yet even though I mostly see him via Skype these days, he is still a focal point of my life. That said, with him long out of the house, my husband and I now have time to pursue our professional and recreational interests without worrying about getting dinner on the table on time or juggling our son’s afterschool activities.

Some parents of young children can’t imagine the day when their children will go out into the world. Others fantasize and count down to the time when they will be free from the daily planning, stress, and lack of sleep involved in caring for a young child.

Rather than downsize their lives once their kids left for college, the parents featured in a recent New York Times story bought bigger apartments in order to enhance their lives. While obviously not everyone can afford to invest in a larger nest, the idea is relevant regardless of your finances. When your child leaves home might be an opportune time to make a life change that could improve your quality of life.

In some ways, the advice for empty nesters is similar to the advice for retirees: find something you love and do it. While you’ll always be a parent—no matter how far your child wanders – you now have more time to devote to yourself, to a relationship, or to the world around you. Get involved, get active, get committed to something that makes you happy.

Do you think about what you’ll do once you have an empty nest? Are you looking forward to that day or dreading it?