What to Do When the Kids Leave HOME
In researching this post, we came across the story of Judi Hindman. According to the website Better After 50, Hindman is an empty-nester who:
- Works as a personal trainer.
- Runs a catering business.
- Fosters rescue animals.
- Keeps bees in her yard.
- Takes classes at Boston University.
- Plays host to a doctor from Kenya studying in the U.S.
We aren’t sharing this to make you feel lazy, but to remind you of all the possibilities that await people whose children have moved out.
Last year, Piper Classics offered its readers some tips on how to redecorate your home when your kids leave for college. In this post, we’ll talk about how to adapt to the reality of your new child-free house. Here are a few things you can do to transition to life after full-time parenting:
Reconnect with your spouse
An empty nest doesn’t have to be an unhappy one. Relationship expert Dr. Terri Orbuch says there are many studies that show marital happiness can increase when kids leave home.
“Despite these hopeful findings, it’s very common for spouses to express anxiety before their kids move out,” Orbuch wrote in the Huffington Post. “Do we still have things to talk about? Will we get sick of each other’s company?”
She suggests a few tips for spouses who want to stay connected in the empty nest years:
- Spend 10 minutes a day talking about something besides your kids, your jobs, your house or your finances.
- Make some goals. Maybe you can take that trip you’ve always talked about. Maybe you can both work on getting in better shape. Maybe you can start to entertain more. You have the time and the space to do that now.
- Try something new, whether it’s taking tennis lessons, eating at a new restaurant or checking out a local tourist spot.
Reconnect with your friends
Friends are key to helping you make the switch from full-time mom or dad to person-without-kids-at-home. Call up some friends who you haven’t seen in a while, or get out and meet new people. Chances are your old friends are empty nesters themselves and are looking for friendship as well. Your friends can also provide you with suggestions about new hobbies, or leads about new jobs.
Jump start your career
You could pick up where you left off before you had kids, or you could just start something new.
You might find that you can take your skills from a previous job and turn it into something new. Maybe you could teach a college course in your field, or serve as a consultant. Or perhaps you could take a hobby you’ve developed – woodworking, cooking – and turn it into a small business.
Go back to school
Maybe you always wanted to study art, history, or english literature, but felt it wasn’t practical. Now’s your chance. Go back to school and find a course that speaks to you. At the very least, you might find that a second round of schooling helps improve your existing skills. Many community colleges have course offerings for the 50+ crowd.
Do some volunteering
Are you unsure about returning to the workforce? Consider volunteering instead. If you volunteer with a local non-profit, you’ll be helping your community, while also transitioning back into a work environment at a pace that you choose. Think of it like a preview for your potential return to work.
Of course you’ll still miss your kids. You may have stopped doing day-to-day parenting, but you’ll never stop being a parent. Even Judi Hindman admits she counts the days until the holidays, when she knows her kids will come back home.