Building a Full Life in My Empty Nest

We’re a few weeks into the school year and our family is already caught up in the fun and excitement of senior year for our younger son. We’ve been to football games and watched our son march with the band and perform in a musical “circus act.” (If you’d like to see some high school kids do tricks with trombones, check them out here.) At the same time, I’m always totally conscious that things will be so different next year.

We’ll be empty nesters. For the first time in over 20 years, my sweet husband and I will be hanging out—just the two of us—all the time. Thankfully, parenting teenagers gives you a preview of this empty nest lifestyle. For example, in the last 36 hours, I’ve seen my kid’s arm and hand briefly as he waved goodbye at 6:00 this morning. That’s it. Just his hand and his arm. As I write this, I’m looking forward to seeing his face for another few minutes when he comes home from time with his friends.

In the last few weeks, I’ve also had the chance to really revel in parenting an adult child. I’ve spent hours having deep, heartfelt conversations with my college kid. We even met for dinner one night, just the two of us. I am loving being the mom to my grownup boys.

I’m determined that this new stage of parenting will be as sweet as the ones that came before. I’m already planning how we’ll fill our empty nest.

Throughout our parenting journey, we’ve benefitted from the wisdom of friends who are just ahead of us on the way. Empty nesting is no different. We’ve been listening carefully to the advice these friends have shared. And we’ve been watching to see who looks like they’re most enjoying their kids.

I won’t mention any names here, but I think they’ll recognize themselves when I describe the crazy fun they’re having. They travel with their kids. They help out with dogs and houses and babies. We’ve been grateful to be part of their empty nest and look forward to them helping fill ours, too.

With our kids away from home, we’ll have more flexible schedules. We can spend time with friends and head out for weekend jaunts without worry about what the kids are doing at home. We’ve never been spontaneous travelers but maybe this is our time!

I’ll have time to nurture more relationships with women friends. I’m trying to figure out a book club. I want to volunteer in ways that are meaningful to me. I’m wondering what career opportunities might lie ahead.

I’m looking forward to more time with my partner. I chose him, after all, because he was my favorite person to hang out with. I laugh the most when I’m with him. More laughs are in our future!

My friend at work is going to have an empty nest soon. She’s creating new traditions for football watching and left-over eating. She’s filling her empty nest!

We’ll be part-time empty nesters at first. We’ll have weekends and summers and holidays with our kids at home. Just this week, the four of us ate dinner together at home. I said to my family, “I love it when my chicks are all in my nest.” I know I always will.

Beth is mom to a high school sophomore and a first year college student. After fourteen years as a professional writer and editor, she earned graduate degrees in counseling and play therapy. Now she exercises her creativity as a school counselor. Beth loves reading, especially mysteries.