The nest is empty – now what?

empty nest in tree
empty nest in tree

It’s happened: you’ve packed up your youngest child, loaded your car with laundry baskets filled with clothes, and moved them into their first “adult” home.

You’re officially an empty nester – all of your children have grown up, moved out, started new jobs, new relationships, maybe even new families.  The sudden silence in your home may leave you feeling nostalgic for the days of loud family dinners and chaotic evenings spent chauffeuring children to different events.

For some, this transition can be especially hard.  We often identify ourselves by our roles – daughter, sister, wife, mother – and when our children move out it can feel like a loss of these important labels.  While these labels will always define a part of you, an empty nest can be an opportunity to find an identity outside the title of mom or dad.

Raising a family is a full-time job in itself and as a result there are likely hobbies or interests that have faded into the background.  Check out the community calendars in your area to see what kind of activities or courses may be offered: now is the perfect time to take that cooking class or join that book club! The City of Burlington website has a comprehensive list of offerings, which can be found here.  If you are 55+, you can join a thriving community filled with new experiences.  You can find this community here.

You can also use this time to reconnect with a spouse.  It may sound cliché, but it’s an ideal time to travel and see the world.  With less expenses now that the children are grown, empty nesters often find themselves with more disposable income.  Now is a great time to travel and explore different cultures.

It may also be time to think about downsizing your home.  Buying a smaller home and using the equity on your current home as a down payment will decrease your mortgage payments and help you to become mortgage-free sooner.  Keep in mind that you may still want space for your children and grandchildren to visit, and that family-friendly homes are a great long-term investment.  Speak with your realtor and explore new communities here.

Becoming an empty-nester can be a difficult time in your life.  Taking the time to rediscover yourself, reconnect with your partner, and plan for the future can help ease the transition.  Trying out some different hobbies may result in a new or rediscovered passion and along the way you may find some friendships with people going through the same period of transition in their own lives.