Tag: empty nest (page 1 of 11)

Downsizing Survival Tips

Dear Wendy,

I’m starting to feel like a pro at this whole downsizing thing. In fact, I think I’m almost ready to give lessons. Continue reading

Kids packing for college? You’ll be okay.

Dear Readers,

Two years ago this week, my youngest child was in the final stages of getting ready to leave for her first year of college…and I was, how shall we put this, freaking the hell out. Continue reading

My so-called empty nest

Dear Wendy,

alt="IMAGE-empty-nest-revolving-door-after-the-kids-leave"It seems a little bit strange to be writing about the empty nest when my youngest kid is sitting next to me playing Sims on her computer, but summer’s almost half over, and the new school year is only a month away.

Last year at this time I remember musing about my first year with no kids living at home—Adrian had been living on his own for about 10 years, Rachel had finished her first year of college, and I was feeling kind of cocky about having survived that dreaded first plunge into childlessness.

Well, temporary childlessness.

Because, as I now know, they come back. That was actually Lesson 1: this whole “going away to college” thing isn’t the real thing. Sure, we call it “the empty nest,” but it’s really more like “the temporary lull.” The real empty nest will happen in a few more years, when degrees have been handed out, jobs and first apartments acquired.

I know this, but I’m not thinking about it too hard. Call it denial, but I prefer to think of it as “living in the moment.”

Empty nest, full nest

Right now we’re in the revolving door stage, at least with our youngest child.

Our year has a particular rhythm now: we spend the summer preparing for the new school year. In early September we drive to Toronto and drop Rachel off at her college. This is a happy-sad time for all of us, and tears are usually involved.

On our return home, everything is suddenly intensely quiet, until Mitchell and I have time to adjust back into our “home alone” routine. But we quickly relearn what it’s like to live as a childless couple again—cooking for two, planning our days around our own schedules, running the dishwasher every couple of days. Of course, we see Adrian a couple of times each week, but he always returns to his own place afterward.

In October Rachel comes home for Thanksgiving weekend, which is always insanely hectic and much too short; then it’s a longish haul until her December break. We have a full month together, and then she’s off again, this time until mid-February, when she’s back for study break; Easter is usually about 6 weeks later; and then we’re making the trip to Toronto once more at the end of April, to bring her back home.

You see what I mean about the revolving door, right?

Right now, we’re in the middle of the pre-back-to-school planning stage, thinking about all the things we need to do before September: courses must be chosen, mountains of laundry must be washed, haircuts must be scheduled (because seriously, when you find a great hairdresser, you don’t mess around with that).

Rachel only has about 10 days left in her summer job (interning at an architectural office), and we’ll be off on a camping trip for a few days, and then it’ll be time to get packing in earnest.

For now, I’m enjoying the temporary chaos of having our youngest at home, but these days it seems that no matter whether she’s here or not, I’m aware that it won’t last long. Change, it seems, really is the only constant.

Love,

Karen

 

 

Are you ready for the empty nest?

Dear Readers,

Yes, it’s still summer, but for many families it’s a time of flux—if your offspring are heading off to their first year of college, you’re probably wondering what it’ll be like, how you’ll cope, and what your new role will be.

It’s a huge life transition, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

You’ve spent the better part of the past two decades raising this person, teaching him or her how to cope with life…and now that they’re about to leave, there’s often a feeling of panic. Will they be able to deal with all the new challenges that independence brings?

And what about you? You’ve invested a huge part of yourself in being a parent. How will that change when your kids are no longer living under your roof? How will this huge transition affect your sense of self, your relationship with your partner, your sense of place in the world?

Big changes are afoot, and you’re right to be thinking in terms of “now what do I do?”

To help you prepare, emotionally and in practical terms, we’ve put together a list of blog posts on life just before, during, and after the empty nest. From Jackie DeMuro’s musings about this last summer with her daughter at home, to Sharon Greenthal on the emotional realities of the too-quiet house, to Carpool Goddess on what to buy for your kid who’s moving into a college residence…and yes, even a couple of our posts—one on what it’s like when they leave for good, and one on making a plan when your child has a chronic illness—we’re pretty sure you’ll find what you need here.

Like all our Saturday lists, this one is made on Listly, so you can vote items up or down, add comments, and even add posts of your own, or from other sites, you think should be part of the list. In fact, we hope you do!

On your way to the empty nest
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KarenWendy Irving

On your way to the empty nest

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  1. 1  Being Comfortable with the Quiet of an Empty Nest

    Being Comfortable with the Quiet of an Empty Nest

    One of the most challenging things when your kids leave home is being comfortable with the quiet of an empty nest. Despite a fundamentally good marriage, there are hours...days...sometimes longer when my husband and I don't have much to say to each other.

  2. 2  Yarn and an empty nest

    Yarn and an empty nest

    I wandered into a yarn store the other day. I had no business in there, really. I don't knit and it's been at least 30 years since I crocheted anything. But it was so inviting. Out of nowhere, I was struck with thoughts of my kids who are all busily, productively, living their lives.

  3. 3  Making Ghandi Proud

    Making Ghandi Proud

    I was so happy when my daughter, the always delightful Fangette, graduated from high school last week. Finally. All the bullshit was over. Or, so I thought. She's home this summer. She's working here and there at her movie theater job, but she's home more than she's not home.

  4. 4  Empty Nest: the final stage? - After the Kids Leave

    Empty Nest: the final stage? - After the Kids Leave

    Dear Karen, I've been giving some thought to your letter last week about the revolving door of the empty nest. As you enter one stage, I seem to be exiting, so I feel 100% qualified to tell you what you have to look forward to in the next year, after she Rachel graduates: She will leave one day, suitcases packed, perhaps a U-Haul idling in the drive with all her furniture, and she will not come back.

  5. 5  Kids Going to College: Getting Your Heart and Head Ready

    Kids Going to College: Getting Your Heart and Head Ready

    Lisa writes: When we published a post last summer about our kids going to college, we thought we had missed a most important moment and had one only chance left, when our youngest leave. We were wrong. Parenthood has two big transitions, when our children arrive and when they leave.

  6. 6  Am I Over Empty Nest? Who Am I Kidding...

    Am I Over Empty Nest? Who Am I Kidding...

    My son Rob surprised me last weekend. Showed up Friday night when my husband and I were out having dinner, about to go the fantastic Artosphere Symphony. I became a mess. Crying. Introduced him to the waiter. " This is my son. He works in Conway. I didn't know he was coming ".

  7. 7  Empty Nest: Life Beyond Parenting - Now What?

    Empty Nest: Life Beyond Parenting - Now What?

    Right now, in homes across the country, college acceptance letters are sitting on kitchen tables. Your own children may be deciding where to go to college. Excitement is high, but the reality is also bittersweet. Why? You know that there will be an empty chair at the table.

  8. 8  Shopping for College & Getting Ready For Move In Day - Carpool Goddess

    Shopping for College & Getting Ready For Move In Day - Carpool Goddess

    Congratulations, your child is going to college! Now you must face the task of shopping for the dorm room. It is a special time for parents and their college bound kids and a wonderful opportunity for more bonding as they're headed out the door.

  9. 9  Health crises and the college student - After the Kids Leave

    Health crises and the college student - After the Kids Leave

    Dear Wendy, Well, Rachel's departure for college didn't go exactly as planned. We'd intended to set out on Sunday around noon, take a leisurely drive down Highway 401 (hahaha...

  10. 10  Advice For Parents Facing An Empty Nest

    Advice For Parents Facing An Empty Nest

    When stay-at-home mom Sharon Greenthal's youngest child left for college nearly four years ago, she decided to grab life by the horns and reinvent herself. She talks about the opportunities for parents once their kids fly the coop.

View more lists from KarenWendy Irving

Have a great weekend, and catch you tomorrow for our weekly video roundup,

Love,

Karen and Wendy

Another year gone: Let’s do the Time Warp again!

Dear Wendy,

Time: it’s a funny old thing, isn’t it?

I honestly don’t know how this happened, but Rachel is done with college for another year. Exams are done, final projects handed in, lockers cleaned out, dorm rooms emptied (a whole other story, which my aching back will be happy to tell you about for some time to come), and…that’s a wrap, kiddies!

alt="IMAGE-Humber-move-out-residence"

Good-bye, dorm kitchen!

College: Year 2 is done and dusted.

In September 2012, when we first dipped our toes into this whole “mostly empty nest” thing, it seemed like the school year would last forever.

I remember bidding a slightly tearful farewell to Rachel at Thanksgiving in October, and thinking that it would be ages before we saw one another again at Christmas.

This past September, I was a lot more sanguine about it, and sure enough, this year has zipped past as if it were on fast-forward.

If this keeps up, she’ll be completing fourth year in about five minutes, and her master’s degree in five seconds flat. I’m pretty sure she won’t be doing a Ph.D., which is a good thing since at this rate, she’ll have finished it before she even started.

The journey out is always longer

Actually, I have a theory about this whole time-compression thing.

You remember when we were kids and our parents would take us on those seemingly interminable car rides around the Nova Scotia countryside to visit the pilots who worked for Dad? It was a bit like when the Queen goes walkabout, except it involved driving to places like Herring Cove, Lunenburg, Digby, Shelburne, Port Hawkesbury, Bridgewater, and North Sydney.

We’d set out on a Saturday morning, and from my queasy, carsick point of view in the back seat, we’d drive aimlessly along interminable highways and country roads for hours and hours and hours. Eventually we’d locate that week’s victim’s house, where we’d disembark and be told to sit quietly and not make nuisances of ourselves, while Mum and Dad partook of the hospitality of the house.

Eventually we’d leave, and the drive home always seemed to take about half the time of the trip out—because now I knew where we were going, I recognized landmarks I’d noted on the way out, and each minute took us closer to home (and merciful relief from carsickness).

My point, and I do have one, is that when you know where you’re going, and you’ve made the journey already, each successive trip seems shorter by comparison.

The parenting time warp

As I think about it, this applies to parenting as well.

For instance: back when Adrian was a baby, it seemed to me that my life would never be anything other than an endless round of diapers, drool, and breastfeeding. From the perspective of a brand new parent, babyhood seems like it’ll never end…until finally, you graduate into toddlerhood, preschool-hood…and then the school years. (I was going to say “school-hood,” but that starts to sound like it has criminal overtones, so let’s leave it at that, shall we?)

By the time you and your child are in the school years, things take on a kind of sameness from year to year, and suddenly you know pretty much where you’re going from one September to the next. You understand the rhythm, you have a general idea what to expect.

alt=IMAGE-time-warp-baby-to-man"

How is this even possible? Beats the heck out of me. All I know is that it took about five minutes, tops.

And that’s when the whole time-speeding-up thing starts. By the time our kids are in high school, we’re acutely aware that our time with them at home will be limited (and we’re right).

Incidentally, go ahead and tell all this to a mother who’s just had her first baby. Go on, I dare you. You’ll come away with a bloody nose, guaranteed.

I can’t even tell you how many times some well-intentioned soul told me, “Savour this time! It goes by so fast!” while I was trying to cope with the whole shit and stringbeans deal. I remember smiling sweetly, nodding, and thinking to myself that I would like to stab that person in the hand with a fork.

And yet, by the time I had Rachel, I knew very well how fleeting her infancy and toddlerhood would be; I knew what to look for, how long the ride would take…and most of all, I knew that each phase would be a lot shorter than I expected.

I also knew that the trip likely wouldn’t involve me being carsick, which was a total bonus.

So as we embark on another summer with Rachel at home, I need to remember that the time between now and September will be infinitesimally short…and that we should enjoy it while it lasts.

Love,

Karen

 

 

 

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