So your last child has finally flown the coop. The family dynamic you grew accustomed to has changed forever. And even though you’d never actually say so to the kids, you’re pretty excited to have some freedom for the first time in decades.
Sure, there may be a few feelings of sadness, but there’s a lot to look forward to. In this post, we give you 5 questions you should be asking yourself once you’ve shipped all your children off to the real world.
1. What should I do with the bedroom(s)?
Now that your children have vacated their bedrooms, you have several options. Why not redecorate the spaces as you see fit? Perhaps the study or home gym you’ve always wanted finally has some room to exist.
An obvious option is converting the space into a stylish guestroom. Apart from being convenient for visiting family members and friends, a comfortable spare bedroom could also encourage the kids to come back and stay more often – even if they initially complain about their old bedroom being ‘ruined’.
If there’s nothing specific you’d like to use the space for, it might be nice and nostalgic to leave it untouched. But remember: this is your home – if you have a great practical idea for the room, go for it.
2. How will I spend my free time?
You’ve dedicated 2 decades or more to raising your children, often putting your own needs and desires on the backburner. Well, now it’s your turn. An empty nest might come with more spare time than you know what to do with, but it won’t take long to fill those schedule gaps.
How you choose to celebrate this freedom is entirely up to you. Will you rediscover old interests or hobbies? Or will you try something completely new that’s always intrigued you? Whether you fancied yourself an avid painter prior to parenthood, or you’d like to have afternoons free to experiment with new recipes in the kitchen, now is your chance to shift focus back on yourself and do more of what you enjoy.
3. Should I downsize now or wait until later?
This is a big decision. Staying put for now may be the easier, more comfortable option, but there are several benefits of downsizing sooner rather than later. For example, investing in a new home now could leave you with a more reliable and profitable nest egg for retirement.
With a larger home, you’ll likely be spending rent or mortgage money on wasted space, and maintaining a big house can feel like a lot of effort – particularly if you’re spending hours cleaning rooms that nobody uses anyway. If you can see yourself fitting into this category, consider making plans to move into a smaller home soon.
Too many memories to fit in a little house? You can place all of your children’s belongings safe in one of our personal storage units to keep your new home clear of clutter.
4. Who you gonna call?
No, not them. We’re talking about the friends who have fallen out of touch over the years. Now that you’ve retired from the full-time job of parenting, why not reach out to past colleagues, university friends, or even your best mates from high school? It might be a bit awkward at first, but reconnecting with old friends is likely to be a fascinating and rewarding way to enrich your social life.
Speaking of which, it’s time to make some new social connections too. Now that events and meetings can’t be compromised by parent-teacher nights or sports carnivals, it’ll be easier to commit to the book club, community choir, cricket team or yoga group you’ve always wanted to join.
For couples, an empty nest also becomes the perfect place to rekindle the spark. Let’s be honest: raising kids can take a toll on even the strongest relationship. But you’ve survived it together, and now you have the opportunity to shift focus back to having a romantic connection – take advantage of it.
5. What kind of relationship do I want with my adult children?
When you’re no longer making their lunches and nagging them about homework, you’ll probably find the dynamic of your relationship with your child will quickly evolve. While it will take a while to get used to not always being there for them (you don’t want to be the parent who visits every weekend to ‘check in’), the end result is usually positive. You get to watch your little boy or girl mature and blossom into an adult – and there’s something pretty special about that.
Some people might think being an empty nester is a bad thing, but you know better – you’re ready and excited to embrace the freedom. After considering these 5 questions, you can look forward to turning your empty nest into a full life.