Monday, 22 August 2016

LOVING THE EMPTY NEST

Rather than worrying about the kids leaving home - here is why we're loving our empty nest

LEAVING THE NEST

All this blogging about parenting over the last couple of weeks has made me appreciate yet again the absolute joy of our empty nest. I know so many people who are worried about what their life will be like once the fledglings fly, but when you've prepared yourself and you know it's coming and you accept the inevitable change....it's amazing!

As a parent you spend years (decades!) focused on your children, raising them to be decent human beings and trying to provide them with interesting life experiences. Your life revolves around the family unit and making sure those kids of yours are well fed, well educated, well disciplined, well thought of, and well rounded. It's exhausting just thinking about all that time and effort......and then before you know it, they are heading out the door to greener pastures and waving blithely goodbye to good old mum and dad.

LETTING GO

Some people find this really hard to cope with - how will they get by without their children around to keep them company and keep them occupied? What will their home be like without teenagers and 20 somethings floating in and out of the front door and in and out of the refrigerator? How will they manage not knowing all the interesting and engaging things their offspring are getting up to?

What I found with our two "kids" was that by the time they were hitting late teens, they were getting more protective of their privacy and less and less interested in having their parents involved in their lives - especially anything to do with their social life! Once they had that magic piece of paper saying they could legally drive a car, they couldn't wait to zoom off into the big wide world and start picking and choosing when they'd be home and at what time.

The more questions that we asked, the less answers we received. Our son in particular did not like us nosing into his business. He was very defensive of his space and the idea of deep and meaningful bonding with his parents was very low on his to-do list. He was slowly but surely separating himself from us and in doing so, he was preparing himself to cope on his own and preparing us to happily wave goodbye to his somewhat surly self (what a dreadful thing for a mother to say!)

THE PEACE THAT PASSES UNDERSTANDING

By the time it was our daughter's turn to fly the coop, we had a handle on the whole "see you later, don't call me, I'll call you" scenario. She was a little less ruthless in cutting the apron strings, but nevertheless, she couldn't wait to have her own life that didn't involve having to let her parents know where she was at any given moment. Once she'd packed her stuff and headed off into the sunset, the house was very quiet indeed (one might even describe it as blissfully peaceful.)


Give the ones you love wings to fly and roots to come back... Dalai Lama XIV

DON'T CLING

Kids are really good at making the transition from nestling to fledgling to full flight. It would be such a shame to spoil it for them by being lost, and lonely, and needy, and trying to cling onto their tail feathers as they zoom off to a new life. We found it was easier to make the transition as painless as possible, to wish them all the best, give them any help they needed to launch and to let them know we were there if they needed us. Then it was up to us to reconnect, restructure and restart being a couple again - and it has been a lot better than I anticipated.

MORE TO COME

Rather than continuing on ad infinitum, I might leave talking about what our empty nest is actually like to later in the week when I do my next post. I'd love to hear what others did to make their kids' launch successful. It's such a joy to see them stand on their own two feet and not need to run home every time something doesn't go quite to plan. Independence is an amazing quality to watch develop in your children as they become young adults and strike out on their own.

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Rather than worrying about the kids leaving home - here is why we're loving our empty nest

32 comments:

  1. I was taken to lunch by my children yesterday for my birthday Leanne. It was a joy to see my daughter, her husband and my gorgeous grandson together with my son (unfortunately, his partner was ill and couldn't make it). I have a beautiful photo of me with them all and I felt so proud looking at the people they have become. We all love each other and know we are there for each other but we are also enjoying our own lives.

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    1. That's the beauty of letting your children grow and become independent - they feel free to come back because they know they won't be smothered. It's so lovely reconnecting each time and I'm thrilled that you could have them with you for your birthday x

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  2. I don't have a nest to empty. But if I did, I think I would see the transition as healthy.
    Carol
    http://carolcassara.com/friendships-change/#

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    1. I think you have all the benefits of an empty nest without the run up to it Carol - all those fledglings that you didn't need to kick out of home to enjoy the peace :)

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  3. It's nice to hear that this can be a change that is enjoyable and that you adapt to when it comes - when they're little, it's hard to imagine coping with them leaving home!

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    1. When your kids are little you don't even think about the time when they'll leave - but when that time draws closer it's good to put something into motion to make sure you're not left looking at an empty life instead of an empty nest.

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  4. Good for you Leanne on a successful launch and enjoying your empty nest. I hear too much of the revolving door with adult kids and realizing the partner is boring than you would think!

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    1. It's scary isn't it Haralee - especially when you realize you're only half way through your married life - being stuck with someone you think is boring and wishing for the kids to come back is not the best outcome at all!

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  5. Our nest has been empty for six years now, and I have to say, in general, the thinking about it was worse than the actual day to day. Of course, there are days I am painfully nostalgic about their childhood years but I'm proud that they're doing what they should be doing and are happy, independent young adults.

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    1. Mine's been empty for several years now Lois and although I miss them at times, the peace and serenity has a lot going for it!

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  6. Its been so rewarding to see the little birds fly off and make their own nests- and I get to visit some great places! Silver linings!!

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    1. I love a positive viewpoint Cheryl - and yes there are always silver linings aren't there? :)

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  7. I'm so glad to read these stories "from the other side". I'm proud of my son, and so excited for him and what the future holds. But four days in from his leaving, I'm just so sad. I figure if I ignore the sadness, that won't be a good thing. So I'm just letting myself feel that for awhile, and then I'll continue working on the next part of my life!

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    1. You're allowed to be sad as the transition happens Lana - it's part of the process, but moving past it and being happy for him is how you let him fly. I know that's what will happen because you are a proactive woman and you won't stay sad for long xx

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  8. I must admit, I cried off and on for a year when our son was a senior in high school. I was so concerned that I would not be able to handle life without kids being my main focus each day. I always loved having their friends over and being the house that all the kids loved to come to. However, I love this empty nest chapter in my life. Our children are 34 and 36 now. They are both my best friends. One lives in LA and our daughter lives in San Diego. She is married to a wonderful man and they gave us our first grandchild. Being an empty-nester rocks!

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    1. Go Us Ellen!! It is sad when a chapter closes, but the book keeps going and new chapters have joy and new adventures in them - and grandbabies!! Midlife Rocks! :)

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  9. As one who loves and appreciates independence I stuck to the "be free and fly" idea of life. I missed them all terribly and still do, 3 of my 4 are 2000 miles away. I miss them dearly but I'm proud of the people they've become. I have every confidence in the world that they will continue on loving, intelligent, kind paths. Knowing that they're good people and are "okay" out there in the world is a comfort and I think, eases the stress and the clingy stuff.

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    1. You are so right - having confidence in them and their abilities and decision making skills, makes letting them go so much easier. I can't believe yours are 2000 miles away - that's huge!!

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  10. For most of my friends and me, letting go was hard. But once we got through that transition, life without our kids became blissful!

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    1. I feel sorry for those women who never reach that place of bliss because they've hung on too tight and can't enjoy the pleasure of letting their children go and finding themselves again.

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  11. I appreciate your perspective. I've mostly heard about how awful it is when children leave the nest. Thank you for offering hope during what could be very stressful times. I have one away in college and a 9th grader. My husband and I fantasize about what life will hopefully be like...one filled with travel!

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    1. It will be fabulous Glenda - attitude and preparation are everything. If you've brought them up to be independent and strong, you'll feel free to leave them to it while you trip around the country (or the world!)

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  12. A confession here; my son made it easy (he left by mutual agreement, shall we say)- but it all worked out well. He lives in a mobile home (we helped with a down payment but everything else was his hard work) about 20 minutes from us and, now that he is in his mid 20's, our relationship is becoming somewhat like a friendship. Hard to explain, and I never would have expected that. You must let them fly, as hard as it can be. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

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    1. Sometimes our kids jump sooner than we'd like Alana but putting things in place to make that transition smoother opens the way for that friendship to develop down the track. I'm so happy he's doing well - so many don't have that help at the crucial time to ensure they make it through. x

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  13. My nest is still quite full, and I'm not ready for the idea of empty. Luckily I have 15 years or more before that happens. ;-)

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    1. Wow 15 years! I can't imagine what that would be like - there are a lot of lovely times still ahead for you before you have to worry about what to do with all that free time you'll have on your hands :)

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  14. It did not take long at all to get used to the empty nest! We had it for 4 months, then our oldest daughter moved back in for 5 years. That's a whole other story, but as much as I love my kids, they need to get on with their own lives. I am very close to my girls, but I have no desire for them to ever live in my home again!

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    1. Neither of mine boomeranged back Cathy (phew!) but I guess you can never say never! Glad you've emptied them all out and can enjoy all that blissful quiet :)

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  15. I have half an empty nest (one out, one to go) and have to say I love it. I feel like I had my decades of active mothering and I'm ready for the next stage. I find it all exciting and love the fact I'm still close with my sons. Its the best of all worlds.

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    1. I couldn't agree more Laurie - it's lovely to feel that you have accomplished what you set out to do and can leave them to happily make their own way in the world while you move onto the next phase.

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  16. I found it really hard when Miss 19 nearly 20 moved out just a couple of months after her 18th birthday; I hadn't been expecting it at all. Things were definitely tense at home and it did lighten after she'd gone, though I missed her. But we have managed to build a stronger relationship than ever and I still see her 2 or 3 times a week and text/Facebook regularly! Mr 22 is here for another couple of years I think, til he finishes his degree.

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    1. It's always harder when they leave unexpectedly, or for reasons that wouldn't be what you choose Janet, but so lovely when the damage isn't irreparable and you can find common ground to re-connect on. Our kids had to move out to go to uni - parents who live near tertiary institutions get to keep their kids home a lot longer!

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