Another year has come and gone. Usually, you would be excited about the coming new year. But this year is different, this is the year you are preparing to be an empty nester. This year is when your child moves out.
Making plans about vacations, maybe thinking about redecorating the house or planting flowers for the coming spring and summer. Well, that just doesn’t seem exciting this year.
While you enjoyed the holidays with your family, part of your mind is stuck in the coming year. You were not thinking about it in a positive light this time, but looking at from a point of trepidation.
Becoming an empty nester
You have told yourself over and over again it won’t affect you much.
You have had other children move out before, and while it was hard it wasn’t life ending, was it? No, it wasn’t, but this one feels different.
For the first time in 26 years, we were going to have a house with only two people in it. If you are anything like us you are afraid. Is that all it this is going to be now, a house and not a home?
Your children’s laughter and tears; their hopes and dreams have permeated the walls of your house for decades, each corner of your home holds memories for you.
Now the thought of those walls becoming so quiet and fingerprint-less becomes intimidating and sometimes unwelcoming to you. How can a place you have lived for decades become so alien and foreign?
The scariest part is, they are not gone yet
You still have a few months of high school games, award ceremonies, and graduation itself. You still have time to enjoy your child being at home, but the knowledge that the time when they spread their wings and fly is fast approaching makes your heart heavy and your thoughts hazy and almost incoherent.
Each milestone in our children’s life has been hard. The first day of kindergarten, having to leave your child on their own in a strange place with strangers!
(Whom you have always told your child not to talk to.)
Do you remember feeling like the worst parent in the world walking away from your crying child? You and your child both survived.
This time in your life is just another step in raising children. You are probably never going to see your child leaving home as the happiest time in your life. But you can minimize the feelings of loss and loneliness.
Use these next few months to continue and build positive and happy memories with your youngest child.
The last thing you want to do is make your child pray the time goes by faster so they can get away from their “crazy” parents.
Planning Is Key
Before your child leaves the house is the perfect time to implement small practices to help you and your child stay close. Set up these five ideas before your child moves out and give yourself a little more peace of mind before they leave.
Here are five tips for preparing to be an empty nester and help make your young adults transition to adulthood more natural for your entire family.
1. Spotify Or Other Music Service
Music has always been important in our household. Whether listening to music in the car on road trips or at home. Music is prevalent in all our lives.
As our children got older and discovered their unique tastes in music, they would come home and share their music with us.
Do we always like the music they play? Oh, hell no.
But it is a way for us to connect with our children and to a specific time and place in their lives.
On a surprising note, we found out that all the music we listened to with them made an impact and they thought all the “old” music was cool.
Heather came up with the idea to continue this music sharing tradition by using the Spotify music service.
By paying for a Spotify Premium Family account, we are each able to create an account. While each of us has our account and playlist, we are able to create a private “Collaborative” playlist. Everyone can add and listen to songs on this playlist.
While this may seem like a small thing to some people, it helps us feel closer to our kids. You might be surprised at how quickly you can pick out who put what song on the playlist. Or find yourself smiling and laughing when someone puts a song on the playlist that is entirely out of character.
2. Netflix Hulu Amazon
Almost everyone has a Netflix, Hulu or Amazon streaming service. Like most people, we share these accounts with our children. We pay for Netflix, our daughter pays for Hulu, and our son pays for Amazon. By each of us paying for one account we are able to use all three services at a third of the price.
On Netflix and Hulu we are able to create profiles for each member of the group. We use these profile names to send each other messages so each time we sign into the account, we are reminded of the love we have for each other.
For instance, on Netflix our daughter’s profile name is currently “love you guys!!:), or sons is LOVE YOU TOO, mine is ALWAYS, and Heather’s is As long as I am living.
Corny as hell? Yeppers. But it makes us all smile, and makes it worth it.
Sharing multiple platforms with your kids can be an excellent way to share a movie you might all be interested in or a way to keep following a favorite family TV show, even if you are all in different places.
3. Facebook Messenger
They say the older generation is taking over Facebook, so since you are now going to be an empty nester, you might as well embrace it and use Messenger to keep in contact with your kids.
The only reason I maintain a Facebook account is so I can keep in contact with our kids. Whether this is using Messenger to make video calls or simple to send instant messages, it helps us to stay in touch with our children.
Yes, I do know texting is the same thing, but when you have a child stationed or living overseas, they do not always have access to a working phone. Using Messenger allows you to send and receive messages over the internet without having to rely on a wireless phone network.
We create a family group so that when sending a message it gets shared with everyone at once, and all members of the family can feel connected and included.
Everything is kept within this private chat; sometimes we don’t feel like sharing everything with the whole world. This function gives your family the space they need to be who they are without any outside social pressure. Trust us; your kids still need their parents; they just can’t say that out loud.
4. Write a Physical Letter
Can you remember the last time that you sat down and hand wrote a letter to someone?
Most of us can’t. But what we can remember is the feeling that we use to get when we received a letter from a friend or family member.
In today’s technology driven world it is easy to forget the joy we use to feel when going to the mailbox and discovering a letter addressed to us.
Start writing letters to your child now. You can use this time before your child moves out to tell them how proud you are of them and how much you are going to miss them. Writing allows you the freedom to put into words the feelings you are going through without having to burden your child with your emotional outpouring.
When your child does move out, you can send them these letters. It is a great way to tell them how much they mean to you, while also showing them that you are proud of them and their accomplishments.
These letters can help to ease your child’s mind if they are experiencing life on their own for the first time. And you never know writing letters could be the thing that makes you the cool retro parent.
You never know you may also inspire your child to write you a letter back, and we all know the joy and smiles that would bring to our lives.
5. Make Future Travel Plans Now
Is your child going to move far away or stay in state? The farther your child moves away, the harder it is going to be for them to come home or for you to go and visit them.
Start planning now about how you are all going to remain connected to each other after they move out.
Discuss holidays and other special occasions your family may celebrate together. Set your schedules for the important days for your family. For some, these are significant holidays for others this could be birthdays or anniversaries. My job in retail makes it hard to take off holidays, so Spring Break has always been a time I took off to spend with our children. Make your plans based on your family, after all; they are the most important people in your life.
Making plans before your child even leaves the house can give both you and your child peace of mind. They will not feel so alone in the world. Knowing when they will be seeing you provides them and you a special occasion to look forward too.
However, you choose to deal with your last child leaving the house to remember you have raised your child to be strong, independent and smart. They will take these lessons with them and continue to grow into amazing adults.