Shawna Bell and I were exchanging emails the other day and asked each other how our summers were going with the kids home. You see we’re both empty nesters but with very different takes on being kid-less. Being an “empty nester” is supposed to be a hard transition for a mom, and I must say that I love my kids, but I love finally having me time. It’s amazing how much time they take up even when they are of college age. And it’s so much less housework and less bickering in my life. I love being able to come and go as I please and only being accountable to my dog.
Maybe because I have two jobs–one with Collective Bias and then MOMentumNation, I never felt a loss of “my job” as a mom. I didn’t experience any “how will I fill all this extra time?” I embraced my freedom. But you have to make sure while you’re enjoying it, they still feel you need and love them. I changed the lyrics to Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies” to “All the Single Mamas” and my daughter burst into tears thinking I was anxious to get rid of her. So much for the joke.
Shawna said, “I wasn’t “really” surprised by my sadness—I hated the silence echoing through her now empty room (save for a couple of boxes of her “stuff”)—when my daughter recently left home. I should by all means be a pro by now, with others having flown the nest before her, but I still found myself floundering. She was a big part of my day. She would come home at the end of her work or school day and tell me the never-ending stories of love, life and the pursuit of her happiness. Many a night I could be found half a wake, listening for her safe return after work on the late shift or from a date.
Let’s just say for me it was that classic loss of identity, “who am I if I am not taking care of my kid?” I am used to taking care of others… I have more kids than the old woman who lived in a shoe, well close anyways.
I was even less shocked at how quickly I bounced back… it’s been two months. “At first I couldn’t bear to even open the door to her room and found myself constantly texting her to “check in” but I have found I have adjusted rather quickly.”
So how did we both adjust to being empty nesters?
• Having a career, education, hobbies and or friends helps. Start early planning for your empty nest and make sure you will have things to fill the space of hours they used to take up.
• Stay in touch with technology. If you’re not technology-savvy, start learning now how to use Google hangouts, Skype and practice texting if you’re not proficient.
• Remember how important it is for our children to become independent and be able to handle their lives without us. Make it an assignment for yourself to push them along.
• Get creative with care packages. Many colleges and universities have aligned with companies who will deliver a care package to your child, but they’re not very personal. It’s fun pulling together a box of surprise and delights and a great way to still feel connected to them. And they always pick up the phone to call you after receiving one.
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