5 Tips For New Empty Nesters
So by now, you have recovered from the drop-off of your youngest child at college. He or she is happily adjusting to college life. You are probably still worried about it. You worry about your college student adjusting to sharing a room with a complete stranger and adapting to the fine cuisine in the dining hall. Your college student is doing just fine, that is why you have not heard from him or her.
Back at home revel in the joy of walking down the hall and every bed is made and there are no wet towels on the bathroom floor each morning. The kitchen sink is void of a pile of last night’s dishes that one sibling will always insist belongs to the other. You miss that last-minute scramble to get out the door so that they can make it to homeroom just under the wire. You swore you would never miss this, but you do. Did anybody ever tell you to be careful about what you wish for?
Now you have your big house and it is full of echos, not chaos. There are no Friday Night Lights. There are no pregame parent cocktails. Nor are there any post-game burgers. All those people you once used to catch up with twice a week on the sidelines, you see those folks way less frequently. The mad-crazy busy senior year has faded into trips to the post office to mail off the forgotten items that missed the months-long planning of what to bring to college.
Frankly, the only person you see a lot of is your spouse. And with Covid, that is probably too much. The new normal is not so new, nor so normal. You are an empty nester. Yes, the house is clean, and the grocery bill is a fraction of what it was this past summer. But it sure is quiet.
Here are my five tips for newly minted empty nesters:
- Do not call your college kids every five minutes to check in on them. They are fine. You are not. Accept this new reality. But be prepared to drop everything when they call. Sometimes they’ll want to chat. Other times grab your wallet. You are about to get hit up for something. Something usually not inexpensive.
- Find something new to do. Take the cooking class you have always wanted to do. Or try yoga. I think we have a few yoga studios in town. Sign up to row at The Cohasset Maritime Institute, or take an art class at the South Shore Arts Center. Or volunteer, drive for meals on wheels or get on a board. You have much-needed wisdom and perspective.
- Plan a weekend with your college roommate(s). They are probably going through the same thing. If not they will be, or they just went down the empty nester path. Finding out you are not alone can be very comforting.
- Do you remember those folks you saw for years on the sidelines? Those folks you talked to with some regularity for years. They are as bored as you are. Call them. Plan a night out, or have them over. Keep it simple. They will be just as excited to get together as you are. This will also keep you from calling your kids at college, who do not want to hear from you.
- Get to know your spouse again. You have just spent close to twenty years with your kids. Think of all the places you have driven to and from. You have driven to ballet, gymnastics, karate, scouts, club-this, and club-that, the play, the recitals. Oh, the list can go on for eons. You have accomplished your goal. You raised a great person or people. They are off to college and probably thriving. But this has come at the cost of time with your spouse. Go on date. Go for a walk. Play a round of golf together. You will find that person you married who has been the driver to those other events all these years. Now neither of you have to drive anywhere. (Unless your child is playing college sports, and that is a whole other conversation.)
So yeah, the last child is out the door and off to college. Your house is empty. (but it is clean) Here is what nobody will tell an empty nester. Enjoy it, it is rented time. Because the older child will graduate and move back home. And your empty nester vacation will be over. Do not squander this time. Do note that when your college kids come they forget simple things like how to load the dishwasher. Or that dishes near the dishwasher are not the same as placing dishes in the dishwasher. One day, you will laugh about this.
Revel in this moment. You have done a good job to get your kids off to college. Make time for yourself. You have earned it.
Thank you for reading my somewhat satirical views on life.