Releasing your kids to adulthood is a mixed blessing. You are both proud and saddened. They are embracing maturity and that’s a good thing! Things will be different in your home, and that can be a confusing thing.
Now is the time to prepare YOURSELF for these changes. While enjoying their remaining days at home, it’s important to plan for what is to come rather than simply ignoring it. Your kids will be in gone soon. Therefore, now is the time to develop a plan to help you cope with the sadness of the new season.
Try these techniques to help you prepare yourself for an empty nest:
1. Look forward to enjoying your newfound freedom. While your kids are enjoying their freedom in independent living, you too can rejoice in your newfound freedom away from the kids and their limiting schedules.
• You’ll be able to host dinner parties on weeknights, lounge around with your spouse without sharing the TV, take vacations during the school year, join clubs or become more active in your church community.
• This is the time to rediscover your interests. For so long, you’ve put your wants on the backburner. But now, you can fully explore your interests and find a hobby that helps you feel needed, appreciated, and offers gratification.
2. Reconnect with your spouse. After raising the children for so many years, living alone with your spouse is something that may feel new to you again. Now is the moment to feel like newlyweds! Reconnect with one another on a deeper level than you have in the last twenty years or so.
• Every night is date night! Make something special for dinner a few times each week and then go out on the town on the weekends.
• Take the time to enjoy this milestone in your relationship. You’ve raised wonderful children together; you’ve succeeded as parents and have held a successful marriage. You’re living the American dream – have a toast to your success!
3. Plan a home improvement project. Properly planning a home improvement project takes time. Therefore, use the few months ahead while the kids are still at home to redo their bedroom once they have moved.
• Turning their bedroom into a gym may be too much of a change. So, take baby steps. Turn their bedroom into a guest bedroom. By doing so, you can comfortably accommodate both your adult children and guests.
• Add a home office area to the bedroom so your kids can have a place to study when they come home on breaks. In addition, a simple armchair for reading, fresh paint, new linens and accessories will make for a hotel-like retreat that guests can appreciate.
• Generally, most teens won’t feel as if they’re being slighted when their childhood bedroom is given a makeover. If anything, they’ll feel better knowing that their parents are just as excited about the change.
In addition to all of the tips outlined above, plan ways to connect with your children while they’re away. Discuss how and how often will you connect. You might plan a monthly outing and a weekly phone call. Try to avoid placing too many demands on your adult child. It is unrealistic to expect a call every night!
It’s vital to remember that this is uncharted territory for everyone involved; it’s certainly a mixed bag of emotions. All you can do is to try your best to look at the bright side and all of the benefits involved for your youngster. You aren’t losing a child; you’re gaining a young adult!