When we started this blog, it was to talk about facing the empty nest: your youngest had already left home, and ours was about to. To put it mildly, I was doing my best not to freak the hell out. Continue reading
Last week, Lars and I time travelled back a century when we boarded The Orient Express in London. And what a trip it was!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ".
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.
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.
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...
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.
Have a great weekend, and catch you tomorrow for our weekly video roundup,
Karen and Wendy
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.
It sounds harsh, doesn’t it, when I put it like that?
What’s really harsh is, we did the same thing to our parents, and thought absolutely nothing of it. It’s the way of children, to leave their family home and I think, although it feels kind of funny when it happens, it’s completely natural and normal.
This year, we had Michael living with us for 6 months, on internship at a nearby hotel. Then he went back to school for 5 months and came to stay one last time, before flying to Hong Kong and his new life and career.
As Michael was exiting the revolving door, returning to school after the internship, Gillian entered, and stayed with us for (you guessed it) 6 months. In the final month, she started looking for a flat and found one the week before we flew away together for Christmas.
I had 2 weeks with both children, in Whistler, pretending we were a cohesive, tight family unit again. I knew it wasn’t real, and that as soon as the new year rang in, my kids would be checking out.
And they did.
Wanting to be prepared, I kept reminding myself, “they’re going away, they’re starting their lives, they’re doing what we all do: leave home at a healthy age, they’re fine, I’m fine, the cats are fine…”
It really helped.
I find it weird not to chat with Gilly every day, and the security of knowing that Michael’s off the streets and safely at school has evaporated. Still, we keep in contact, and I’m happy knowing they’re doing what makes them happy.
Best of all? I’m happy for myself. The room which both used as their own, is actually Lars’ home office. He’s back in residence, happily sorting through his papers, fiddling with his stereo and no doubt tut-tutting when he finds a forgotten chocolate bar wrapper lurking in a corner.
I love having my home to myself again and feel I’m now as far into Empty Nest living as I can be.
I can plan dinners, outings, trips, lazy days for myself, without having to think of anyone else. Does this sound selfish? Sure it does and you know what, I don’t care. It’s time for us to start our own lives and let our kids do the same. It’s natural, it’s fun and it’s how life should be.
My kids have flown, and now it’s my turn to fly as well.