Whether you already have an empty nest or you are going to have one soon, these tips will prepare you for those days!
Like every transition in life, the empty nest can be destabilizing, but there are things you can do to prepare for it and mistakes to avoid. When the kids move out of your home, it’s a sign that you’ve done things right in that you’ve raised independent adults who are setting off on their own adventures.
At the same time, you have been intensely focused on your kids and your identity as a parent for 18 years or more, and you will need to find a way to get used to your new and different life now that you are shifting into a new phase. Below are a few things that you should and shouldn’t do to help you get started.
Don’t Burden Your Kids
In particular, if you have been close to your children, it can be easy to inadvertently let slip that you are feeling worried or sad about their departure. Of course, you are not supposed to be an emotionless robot and it’s fine to let your kids know you are feeling a whole range of things, but work on being primarily positive in front of them.
You aren’t the first parent to fly your child across the country to go to college and break down as soon as you are out of their sight and you won’t be the last, but focus on letting them know that you love them and you’ll always be there for them rather than how sad you are.
Do Revise Your Finances
This is a good time to take a look at your finances and think about what you might do differently. You may want to start thinking about moving to a smaller home even if actually doing so is years away. You might also want to take stock and ask yourself whether you are on track with retirement and other financial goals.
If your children are no longer financially dependent on you, you might want to consider selling your life insurance policy. You can review a guide on liquidating your policy and what the process is like to help you decide if this is the right move for you. The proceeds can help supplement your retirement savings.
Don’t Stop Parenting
Your kids still need you. They don’t need you in the same way they did when they were 6 or 16, but whether they’re off at college, working or raising children of their own, they still need a parent figure sometimes. It’s worth taking some time to think about what this new relationship will look like and how you can continue to offer support while respecting their independence.
Do Talk About It
Parents who have raised children together should talk about their goals for the future, what they imagine the next decades of their life together will be like and how they will reconnect after focusing on raising kids for so long. If you are no longer in a relationship with the other parent, you should think about your own life and your goals for the years ahead.