Just when you thought your teenagers would never leave you in peace, they head off to college, a gap year or just points yonder. Take the locks off the liquor cabinet, and turn up the hot tub! The taxi, maid and cafeteria services are c-l-o-s-e-d.
Empty nesters can feel a range of emotions from serenity to freedom to loneliness. Even when you are more than ready for the teens to fly, you’re going to deal with some adjustment to extra time in your schedule and a roomier space at home.
What many parents find is that they are saddened by the change and can miss the rewards of caregiving even if they began the separation years ago. The process of having your children leave the nest (at least until they need to come back and live in your basement for financial or other reasons) can create a psychological void. Other parents may be relieved to see their sullen teens move on to the next stage of their lives.
At first a joyful blessing, the stress of raising children can also be a strain on the relationship between the parents, limiting time for other activities, and consuming resources. As the house quiets down though, there is room to reacquaint yourself with your spouse and do the things previously impossible to fit into the schedule. Now is the time to recapture the romance and routine of blissful coupledom.
Take the opportunity to think about the home you want for the next chapter in your life. While it may be your choice to keep everything “as is” hoping the children will be back, changing up your environment can help move things in a new direction. That expansive family compound now may be too large for your re-newlywed status.
Downsize or Shiftsize Your House?
Downsizing often comes to mind, when empty nesters find they don’t need all that house anymore. Still others can “shiftsize” meaning they are looking to find something on the same or even larger scale but with more space to accommodate guests, adult hobbies and entertaining.
Renovating or even expanding an existing layout to create an environment that is more suited to a new entertaining lifestyle. As the children move beyond college, some empty nesters find they have more disposable income to spend on themselves and they want the pure satisfaction of doing what they want without heeding how it would work for a family. Why not transform those extra bedrooms into a hot yoga studio, sewing room or a gentleman’s library with a poker table?
It’s a very personal decision based on many factors including emotional, financial, physical. By exploring whether you want to make a change in your living situation, weighing all the choices and then consciously choosing what the best direction is, you can find the best nest to feather!
Take the Survey
Is it normal to be ecstatic, exhausted, lonely, dreaming up remodeling plans when the kids are taking PSATs? Take the empty nester survey and we’ll share the results on my blog about homes, houses and life events At Home in Marin. All responses will be confidential ;-)