5 WAYS TO RE-FILL YOUR EMPTY NEST

When the nest feels too empty, it's time to look at ways to refill it

WHEN YOUR NEST FEELS EMPTY

No matter how well we handle the departure of our adult "kids" from the family nest, there will always be times when we feel a bit lost. For some it happens immediately, for others it happens spasmodically, but it happens and we need to find ways to re-fill our nests and move on with our own lives. I've put together five suggestions that might help you fill up your life again.

1. FOCUS ON YOURSELF

For decades we focused on our family, we had babies, we had toddlers, we had school with all the outings, sports days, after school activities, P&C meetings etc. We then had teenagers and all their angst and demands, driving them places, picking them up from places, setting boundaries, renegotiating boundaries, teaching them to drive and then worrying about them being on the road etc.

Now it's time to give ourselves a bit of attention and love. When you look at having spare time on your hands, see it as an opportunity to do something special just for you. Treat yourself to something you would never have had the time or finances for back in those full nest days. It only needs to be something small... a pedicure, a massage, a bit of window shopping, buying something new from this season's fashions, buying something pretty for the house, having a quiet coffee, picking up a new book that you'll actually have time to read, how about signing up for Netflix? The list is endless.

2. INVEST IN YOUR FRIENDSHIPS

When the nest feels too empty, it's time to look at ways to refill it - here's five suggestions to get you started.

Remember when your friendships were all about trying to fit in a coffee while you kept an eye on the kids? Remember when all your friends had kids the same age because it was easier than trying to maintain friendships with people who didn't have to juggle toddlers or bored teens? Remember when you couldn't afford to go out for coffee and cake because you'd have to buy something for the kids too?

Now it's time to enjoy a variety of friends. There is no proviso that they have kids who are grown up or otherwise, you can accommodate yourself around those who may still have a few in the nest, but you can also stretch out and have friends from all different walks of life. It's so much simpler to make a date and turn up - whether it's at a coffee shop, a book club, a long brunch or whatever. Being able to take the time to really engage with other people without interruption is a huge bonus of the empty nest.

3. GET OUT AND ABOUT

Rember when an outing involved listening to kids complaining in the back seat about who had the most space, or who needed to go to the toilet, or who was bored, or when will we get there? Remember when going out for a meal or a weekend away was all about kid friendly venues, and kid friendly menus and kid friendly activities? Remember when it was all just too hard, or too expensive, so you just stayed home?

Now it's time to enjoy going for a Sunday drive with your partner, stopping somewhere for refreshments. It's time for a weekend away with the girls (my friend Vicki is off doing that right now!). It's time for a romantic weekend away or a day trip to the city or that country town with all the interesting touristy attractions. You can even visit a glass factory or an art gallery without having to watch out for who's touching things they shouldn't!

4. RE-DISCOVER YOUR PARTNER

When the nest feels too empty, it's time to look at ways to refill it - here's five suggestions to get you started.

Do you even remember who your partner is any more? Has your relationship been lost in all those sleepless nights and juggling pick up and drop offs of various children? Do you remember what it's like to sleep in or to be able to watch anything you like on TV? Do you remember what it's like to have a deep and meaningful conversation - or even a heated debate about something?

Now it's time to re-invent your relationship and take back all those lost memories. It's time to take a look at the person who has been with you through thick and thin and start re-connecting and having fun together again. The sheer bliss of sitting together quietly, of going for that Sunday drive, of laughing at a shared memory, of talking about interesting topics that pop up now and then. The pleasure of just finding out that you still like each other and still want to be together is worth investing time and effort into deepening and developing isn't it?

5. TICK OFF A COUPLE OF BUCKET LIST ITEMS

In the days of one income and lots of outgoings, there wasn't a lot of time or money to do things "just for fun". Most of the time those things were put on the back burner while we paid the bills, the school fees, the essentials. Opportunities may have come our way, but most of the time we had to let them go due to lack of time or lack of finances.

Now it's time to make a list of the things that we've always wanted to do and haven't gotten around to. I ticked a couple off over the last few years - buying a bicycle, learning stained glass, travelling overseas. But there are plenty more on my list - in fact I'm going to get really serious about that list soon and start working out what I want to get done before my 50's are behind me. This is the time, while we're still fit and healthy, to try new things and have a go. Why not make a bucket list and tick off a few things that you couldn't do back in your child raising years?


When the nest feels too empty, it's time to look at ways to refill it - here's five suggestions to get you started.

How's your empty nest going? Are you finding fun things to re-fill it with? Or are you sitting and pining away while your kids are getting on with their lives? I hope you grab this time of life with both hands and make the most of it - I'm planning to!


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30 comments

  1. Hi Leanne: Very good suggestions even for non-empty nesters.

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    1. You're absolutely right Natalie - if we'd done some of these things before the kids left home we might not miss them so much!

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  2. Colin's been away for camp last week, and he's leaving for another one on Monday, so I get to experience some temporary empty nest, and I'm doing pretty much what you're saying here, enjoying me-time, meeting friends, I had a hair appointment, I will go see my contact lense person, etc.
    Missing my Minion and looking forward to his returning though!

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    1. It might be a good thing having practice at the whole empty nest thing Tamara - by the time it happens for real you'll be prepared and less traumatized!

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  3. I truly believe the best thing we can do for our grown kids is to live happy lives, and these 5 things are the best things we can do to create those lives. This past year I finally started reconnecting with friends and checking off bucket list items. We are really enjoying the freedom to go and do spur-of-the-moment things. Sure I miss the kids and grandkids, but I'm OK with the occasional weekend and facetime calls with them. It seems life has never been richer and more enjoyable. I hope lots of people (especially women) who are struggling with this time of life will read this and take heart!

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    1. I thought I was managing quite well with my kids gone Melody, but I noticed that I still had them in my head a lot - realizing that you can't wait around for a phone call and live for the occasional visit was the beginning of really settling into this stage of life for me.

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  4. Yes, we should have started sooner. It's interesting how we take time for granted at first when our kids leave. But now that my husband and I are rattling around this big house, we are actually spending more time together just doing projects, talking to each other, and sharing Netflix. It's pretty good! And yes, I love all your other suggestions. I'll be sharing this...women need to know there's a lot to embrace with this new gift of time!

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    1. Once you get your head around being a couple again - and that it's not going to change, it opens up a whole new chapter doesn't it Cathy? The kids are launched and not coming home, so it's our time and we need to make it count - not pine away waiting for them to call.

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  5. Oh, my word, YES to all of them! Your life has to go on! Make it count!

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    1. Exactly Diane - there's still a lot of living to do isn't there?

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  6. Make every day count and look around at friends and family that you can reconnect with and share memories with.

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    1. I'm surprised at how many women have lost contact with their friends over the last years of parenting - maybe it just got too hard, or whatever, but we really do need to have other people in our lives - and not depend on our partner to fill the gap the kids leave behind - he's not Superman!

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  7. Good suggestions! Two friends and I co-edited a book about empty nesters when our kids left home! It's a great time to jump into a project and brush up the old skills--or learn new ones! Thanks for this post!

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    1. Hi Risa - I love the fact that you did something so proactive when the kids left - a great way to bridge the gap from full to empty and getting started on the next stage of life!

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  8. Such a list of ideas --- where do I start? I've just taken up podcasting within the last year, and it's so much fun! I love the bucket list idea...

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    1. Podcasting is taking things to a whole new level Margaret! I also loved your post on children living away from home - it really spoke to me and I shared it everywhere :)

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  9. Great tips, Leanne - especially reinvesting in your partner!

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    1. And you would be a great example of that with all your Camino Trail hiking Donna - that is bonding at its best!

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  10. Lovely post...An inspiring one..Yes Life does move on...

    http://www.simpleindianmom.in/boost-immune-system-naturally/

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    1. It does indeed Menaka - you can't slow it down even if you want to - all you can do is move forward with a smile.

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  11. Good ideas. I am working on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing with us at #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. I’ve shared on social media.

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    1. I'm just getting started on mine Clearissa - there are many things I need to add and then it might become a blog post in itself :)

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  12. These are great tips for enjoying life after getting beyond the responsibilities of parenthood. Thank you for linking up at #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. I’m sharing your link on social media.
    Carol (“Mimi”) from Home with Mimi

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    1. Thanks Carol - I think we all need encouragement to move on from the parent stage or we get stuck and sad.

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  13. I think rediscovering your relationship is so important Leanne. In fact, we shouldn't need to if we have maintained a good relationship throughout parenthood. Some couples find they have nothing in common once the children leave which is sad. Thanks for sharing some good advice at #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty.

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    1. You're so right Sue - sometimes we have to step up our game a bit to get the connection happening again, but it's sad to see people walk away from a long term marriage because they lost each other along the way.

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  14. Great ideas and a fun topic for a post! I love your photos too!!
    #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty

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    1. Thanks Lori - I thought they were cute and summed up the post well :)

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  15. Thank goodness I'm not sitting and pining away. I'm used to my nest being empty, it's been empty for a long time now. Thank you Leanne for linking up at the #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. I shared your post on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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  16. It is actually a great time of life! I do have those days when I miss the kids being home, but they pass pretty quickly. I enjoy Paul and I's time together and am greatly looking forward to traveling, even at the spur of the moment when he retires. I work 2 days a week now, spend time with my grandchildren, blog - and you know how busy that keeps you! I'm never bored! Great tips, thank you for sharing them at the #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty! Oh, I'm going to start that bucket list! Shared on social media!

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