There are tons of statistics out there about those of us who are considered the “Baby Boomer Generation” and one of the statistics is that we are now entering or have entered into that time of life, when the children are leaving home. Now that your kids are off to college, off to travel the world, off on their own adventures, and leading lives of their own, many parents find themselves experiencing an “Empty Nest”. For couples, it is like a throw back to before you had children, it’s just the two of you, and you now have to learn to be a couple again without constantly sharing your focus on the kids, which I’ve heard has been difficult for some. Perhaps you are a single parent and you are now on your own and trying to figure out your newfound freedom. Either way, it is the time to ask the ultimate question for this transition in your life, “What’s next?”
For those that are just going through it or will be very shortly, I just want to say, you’re going to be okay and so are your kids. You did a great job raising them; you did the best you could. Everything is going to be okay! Letting our kids make mistakes, even fall, is where we are now. We must step back and allow them to shine on their own without us hovering over their every move, every triumph, or every misstep—they need room to breathe and quite frankly, so do we. By the way, it’s not likely they won’t turn to you when they need you, right? So you can relax. We must just let them learn to live life on life’s’ terms because lets face it, we aren’t going to be around forever and this is a MUST allowing them to spread their wings and fly.
Some boomers decide that they wanted to travel and are off on great adventures, some downsized by trading their bigger homes for smaller ones, which require less maintenance, some have picked up and moved to a new state, and others are still trying to figure out exactly how to maneuver in the world without their kids under foot. It is a bit of a transition at first, not constantly being focused on the kids because that has been who we’ve been for at least the last 18 years, if not more. But it’s time to let your hair down now and celebrate your newfound freedom! Be open to what comes and you might just surprise yourself at the wonderful life presenting itself to you.
One of the first things that I did was to clean and paint my sons’ room. I just felt it would be too much to look in there every day seeing it missing his things on the walls, etc. So, I did a bit of sprucing up which made it easier. I also did a thorough sweep of all of my belongings and made the decision to let go of a lot of things that weren’t necessary or relevant. I cleaned out drawers, closets, cabinets, storage rooms, etc. because I just felt it important for me to stay busy at first. Not to mention cleaning up was on my list of "to dos". Then I decided to take a road trip to Colorado and explore the state which was beautiful, fall colors were just starting to appear. I have been writing and painting more, talking with friends more and just learning to be me again. I share this with you because I want you to know that I had to do some adjusting myself being a single mom, and keeping busy and finally getting some things done that had been on my list for years. There is nothing more exciting to a perfectionist than to check off another thing on their list. Oh and keeping busy, helped me stay off of my phone calling and texting my son.
Perhaps you will reach out to old friends and do activities with them, or make new friends, or you might join a gym, or a hiking group, or a painting group, or maybe take a class in something you really love. There are so many things to do now and the fact that we have everything at our fingertips with the internet, the things you could do are unlimited. I know some that have moved to other countries and are spending their newfound time learning a new language. Perhaps you will start a group in something that speaks to you. Some have found volunteering more speaks to them. Whatever it is, find some activities to do and keep yourself busy when you want to be busy and rest and relax when you want to rest and relax. It’s your time now! If you are retired now, you have endless possibilities and you can sleep in or stay up as late as you want. If you want to vacuum at 4 in the morning then more power to you! If you decide overnight that you are going to take a trip tomorrow, woohoo, enjoy yourself!
For those who are empty nesters and are not yet retired—you will be plenty busy with work and you will find things that excite you on your off time that don't include your kids all the time. You will do some much needed catching up with sleep and get those deep cleanings that were difficult to do while your kids were in the house complete. You will do the same things the retired folks will do, take some new classes, use that Groupon coupon for the wine drinking painting class (FYI, on my list) there are plenty of day trips and trips to the spa that you can take to pamper yourself. There are so many possibilities and you are free to choose what works best for you.
In closing I’d like to say that being a parent has been the best and hardest job I have ever had in my life, but the most rewarding and I wouldn’t trade any of it. Even though my son doesn’t need me to parent him in the same way, we are working into a new way of being with each other. I’ve learned he doesn’t need me in the same way as when he was younger, but he still needs me just the same. I love my son and I miss him being around the house but I am so excited for him. What a grand time in life to be so young, not yet jaded by all the “stuff” that sometimes comes with being an adult in this world, and free to do ANYTHING he really sets his mind to do. I remember it all too well, the excitement, and wonder! Now, as an empty nester, I too, have yet to be jaded by all the stuff going on in the world and I have hope that our children will be the generation that will turn it all around. They will be the ones to level everything out because they carry the wisdom of their ancestors, they have the experience of being our children in the world we live in now, and they have big dreams as to what future they want for us, for themselves and for their children.
Just remember, everything is happening in its right and perfect time and everything is going to be okay. Have an open mind and an open heart, because you never know what might be brewing in the universe for your next adventure.
Saundra Berry, C.Ht.
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