Parenting is arguably the most demanding job on earth. For those who choose to bear offsprings, the task entails huge demands, mentally, socially, physically, and even spiritually. And as difficult as it may seem when we first become parents, we grow into the role, building new skills and developing new routines to make things work over time.
Then one day, you wake up and realize you have to say goodbye to your last born as he/she moves to college or to start a new life away from home. If you find this stage of parenthood disorienting, you’re not alone. Many parents feel the same, and it’s only natural after having spent about two decades building your life around your children.
Now that all your kids can fully take care of themselves, you may find out you have more time and space than you might need. This can bring about a sense of loss of purpose. Many even experience what has been termed ‘Empty Nest Syndrome.’
In this post, we will examine how, having been relieved of most of your parenting responsibilities, you can go on to live a full and enjoyable life.
Scale Down Your Space
The onset of parenting often brings about an expansion in living space to accommodate additions to the family. When the children are gone, one of the toughest things parents are left to deal with is the silence and the emptiness that engulf the house. This can be rather pronounced if you’ve had to acquire a huge space.
Consequently, the first step to facing the rest of your life might reduce your living space. Consider putting that big house for sale. Buy a much smaller house. That way, the physical feeling of emptiness is somewhat taken care of.
The process of hunting for new living space with your spouse, possibly in a new city, can be an adventure. From putting your house on the market to selling it and shopping for new furniture, you’re bound to be engaged all through.
Don’t Check In Too Much
Yes, now you have to stop. I know caring is one of the first things you learned after you had your first child, and you have been doing it ever since. Still, this is the time to stop. You have to consciously resist the urge to check in with your children every morning.
They are now adults, and they can take care of themselves. Go ahead, permit yourself to stop worrying about them every minute of the day. This is not saying you should stop checking up on them altogether. Just give them the space to find their own part.
If you’ve always wanted to give back to society, now is the time. You can volunteer in an NGO in your community. Taking up roles that let you serve others is another way to acquire new experiences and forget about what is seemingly missing in your life. You have all the time now. Don’t hold back.
Traveling is another adventure-seeking opportunity available to you. Recall all the wonderful places you’ve always wanted to visit and never had the chance? Make plans alone or together with your partner and go there.
Traveling exposes you to different places, people, and different cultures that can enrich your mind. Make a list and tick them off as you make each trip. Even if you don’t get to the end of the list, planning for and dreaming about all those places will surely add some happiness to your life.
Take on a New Hobby
Taking up a new challenge can restore a sense of purpose to one’s life. Thankfully, there is an unending list of hobbies you can choose from. You can brush up on your cooking skills by trying new recipes. You can learn a new musical instrument, take up gardening, or start a blog. The point is, the choice is yours.
Conversely, you can revisit an old one. Dust the journal or blog you have since abandoned, and continue from where you stopped. Filling up the gap you’ve left shouldn’t be that difficult; a lot has happened since you stopped.
In all, an empty nest should not signal doom. Instead, it should be a time to embrace the sense of freedom you used to long for when you were still right in the middle of parenting. If you are willing to take the challenge of maximizing that freedom, you can go on to create even more enriching and fulfilling memories. It’s a chance to make your life fuller.