As the mother of two boys, my house was filled with a lot of noise, food, laundry, messiness, and unexplained odors (boy moms, you get me) for nearly two decades. More importantly, it was filled with an abundance of laughter, love, and joy. When the last one went away to school, it was like the life went out of the house. My husband and I went about our daily routines, but there was the feeling that something was missing.
I’ll admit, I walked around my oh-so-quiet house in a bit of a funk, not quite sure what to do with all this newfound freedom. Yes, I had a part-time job, and there were the weekly lunches with friends, but I didn’t realize how much space both literally and figuratively my two, six-foot-plus sons took up in my life. It wasn’t long, however, before I adjusted to my empty nest. In fact, I’ve more than adjusted, I’ve embraced aspects of this new phase of life that allows me more time and freedom to explore my passions, interests, and hobbies without that overwhelming “mom guilt” that would occasionally rear its ugly head.
Yes, I still miss my boys, but I’m happy with the knowledge that they are living their best lives. And, when they come home for visits, I cherish our time together even more. While there is still an adjustment period when they leave, it now only lasts a couple of days because I’ve learned that there are many things, 22 to be exact, that I love about the empty nest life.
You don’t realize how much time you spend fluffing and folding until you are down to just two people, neither of whom put something in the wash just because they tried it on, changed their minds, and don’t feel like hanging it back up.
I don’t know if it’s true for teenage girls, but if you are a mom of teenage boys, chances are you’ve considered a “go fund me” page for groceries. They eat all the time!
If you’ve ever come home ready to indulge in that pint of ice cream you’ve been hoarding only to find an empty carton in the freezer, you feel me. Which leads to…
Also applies to milk jugs in the fridge and cereal boxes in the cupboard.
Not that you don’t still worry about them, but you are no longer sleeping with one ear open to hear them turn the key in the front door.
All your coffee mugs, tumblers, plates, and cutlery are back where they belong rather than scattered in living rooms, bedrooms, playrooms, cars…
Remember who you were before you were parents? No? That’s exactly why you need to start dating each other again, and now you can do it without the hassle of a babysitter, or the worry that your kiddos are up to something while you are out of the house.
Those things you always put on the back burner while you were busy parenting? Now’s your moment! Take a painting class, try ballroom dancing, start a book club, plant a garden, or learn a foreign language or musical instrument. The choices are endless.
You don’t have to worry about anyone walking in on you—need we say more?
Unless of course your husband still isn’t properly trained. This is boy-mom-specific, but it’s real.
If you’ve always wanted to explore the world, it’s now easier and more economical than trying to travel with kids.
If you’ve had a houseful of picky eaters, now you can try those delicious recipes that made everyone say, “Ewwww, mom!”
This one is hard at first, but once you get used to it, it can be nice to do things like reading a book uninterrupted.
Organize all those photos on your phone into virtual scrapbooks. Go through your children’s years of artwork and store the keepsakes. Clean out closets and donate old clothing and sporting gear.
Real conversations, not the “who is taking the kids to soccer and who will pick up dinner” variety. Check-in with each other. Chances are it’s been a minute since you had a good heart-to-heart.
Not that you have to but the freedom is there if you want to—just sayin’.
Now that they have their own lives, you can relate to them on a different, more adult level. Less discipline and “parenting,” more advice-giving, and mutual sharing of ideas and interests are things you can look forward to.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. When your children return to the nest for visits, you’ll make the most out of the time you are together.
Rather than the occasional quick lunch or short texts, you now have time to rebuild neglected friendships or deepen existing ones.
Your life is no longer dictated by schedules you had nothing to do with creating. In other words, no more rushing multiple children to various sporting events which, inexplicably, are never in the same part of town but are ALWAYS at the same time.
Because it will be exactly where you put it, which is exactly where it belongs.
The best thing about the empty nest phase is that you can sit back and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. You have successfully raised and launched independent adults out into the world where they will hopefully do their part to make it a better place. What greater accomplishment in life is there than that?