By: Jordan Elizabeth
I thought that when I left for college and moved out of my parents house, they’d be devastated and beg me to live with them forever, and I’d have to politely decline as I ripped myself from their grasp. Turns out once I left, they redecorated my bedroom and all but changed the locks to make sure I stayed out there in the real world. Now that my ego has had years to heal, I can now appreciate how well my parents transitioned from parenthood to empty-nesters. Here’s how they did it.
First, don’t think of them as leaving you - think instead about how you raised them so well that they can live somewhere out there, on their own, and figure out who and what they’re going to be. You can always call them, but keep in mind, everyone needs space in this period to grow!
The number one thing I hear from parents who are saying goodbye to their kids is that they haven’t been alone with their spouse in 18 years. Being a parent definitely changes a marriage dynamic, and it can be scary to learn who you are as a couple again, but also who you are as a couple now. The good thing is, now that you don't have to drive anyone to practice 4 times a week or chaperone school trips, you have more time to figure it out! Start by going out to dinner and not talking about your kids. That will force you to reconnect and remember why you got together in the first place! Remember that time before kids, when the world was your oyster and you could do whatever you want? You're back there!
Now, plan a trip! The perks of traveling without kids goes without saying, but if you need some reasons: it’s cheaper to fly without them, less whining, less arguments about what to do, and you don’t have to plan around school breaks. Take this opportunity to go to the places you didn’t go to because your kids wouldn’t have fun. You know all those emails you get from airlines advertising fare sales for specific dates? Maybe, for the first time ever, open that email up and book it! Let’s get spontaneous again!
Spend more time with girlfriends who are going through the same thing. It can be the time to sit and talk about how sad you are. Or maybe you’re not, maybe you’re really into life without kids. In which case, enjoy the flexibility of living life on your own schedule. And not having to explain to your kids why you had a tipple at 3pm on a Tuesday. Either way, spending more time with your girlfriends is always a good thing!
Pick up an old hobby, or find a new one. Oftentimes being a parent means you lose time to yourself and, inadvertently, time for things you enjoy. Pick up that flute or paintbrush again and get back into it! You might not be as good as you were 18 years ago, but it’s the joy of doing it that counts. Or so they say. In that case, find a new hobby. Luckily, it seems like you can find a class to learn pretty much anything, even glass blowing.
I think the overall secret to rocking the empty nest is remembering who you were before your kids took all your time and gave you stretch marks. Don't think about missing the past, but instead think about what's ahead. Focus on your new, adult relationship with your children. And before you know it, it will be time to start bugging them for grandkids!
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JORDAN ELIZABETH - Life
Jordan Elizabeth is a comedian, TV Writer/Producer, collector of hobbies, and master of putting off adulthood. She can be heard on the Podcast "3 Dudes and a Broad" and performs stand-up comedy with "Girls Gone Funny." She lives in Manhattan with her fiance and two dogs. Read more about her life at Jordie Elizabeth and follow her on Twitter at @JordiElizabeth.