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  • Heather McDorman

Taking Flight After Becoming Empty Nesters


Woman and man in front of bronze pig statue
Bob and I make a point to get out enjoy ourselves at our favorite restaurants, like Annie Gunn's in Chesterfield, Mo.

You know that moment when you realize you can finally hear your own thoughts again? Well, that's the sweet symphony of an empty nest, my friends!

A few months ago, my husband and I found ourselves in the coveted state of "empty nesters." After surviving years of kid-induced chaos, our home now has a welcome stillness, punctuated only by our dogs’ mischievous antics.

It's a time of adjustment, rediscovery, and, dare I say it, reclaiming coupledom. Our entry to becoming empty nesters seemed to come in stages. For four and a half years (thank you, COVID), our only child, Liam, was away at college. This gave Bob and me a nice glimpse into what it would feel like to live without an offspring in the house. Of course, holidays and summers would remind us that we weren’t quite there yet.

Mom and dad with son at his college graduation.
Liam's time in college helped Bob and me ease into our empty nest.

One thing I should be clear about is that Bob and I are fortunate – we enjoy spending time with Liam, and he seems happy spending time with us (at least, we think so). So, while becoming empty nesters is a desirable place to be for us, we are also happy he and his girlfriend live close, so we get to see them from time to time.

Becoming an empty nester may not be something that every parent looks forward to, but the transition can be made easier with a little preparation. To navigate this exciting chapter, here are some ideas (especially for couples) that may make your own empty nest transition a little more joyful!

Rediscover Each Other With Date Nights

As empty nesters, you may find you suddenly have a surplus of free time. Use it wisely! Plan regular date nights to rekindle your connection. Think back to when you were first dating and enjoy activities you used to love or try something new. Whether it's dancing, cooking, or taking a spontaneous road trip, make time for romance.

Revamp Your Nest

Now that your kids are gone, you might want to redecorate or repurpose their rooms (with the help of my friend, Kathy, Liam’s room is becoming a guest room/exercise space). Make it a fun project to turn those spaces into something you've always dreamed of. The possibilities are endless. And don't forget to document the process for some great before-and-after photos to share on social media.

An updated guest bathroom.
In addition to turning Liam's room into something new, his bathroom was redesigned to be a guest bath (thanks, Kathy!).

Travel to Uncharted Territories

With fewer schedules to juggle, it's the perfect time to travel. Take that bucket list trip you've been dreaming about for years! Whether it's exploring new countries or revisiting your favorite destination, travel can be an exciting adventure for empty nesters. Pro tip: Capture stunning travel photos and write about your experiences for a travel blog. Bob and I have traveled a bit – enjoying long weekends away to Branson, Atlanta, and Memphis.

A man and a woman outdoors in front of a waterfall.
In May, Bob and I spent a long weekend in Branson and enjoyed a nature trail.

Pamper Yourselves

Let's face it, raising kids is a demanding job, and it's time to treat yourselves. Whether it's a spa day, golf weekend, or a cooking class, indulge in activities that bring you joy. I still need to make it to the spa, but I started a new part-time job at Hallmark. Does that count?

Reconnect With Friends

Chances are, you've neglected your social life over the years, putting your kids first. Now is the time to rekindle friendships and strengthen your bonds. Host dinner parties, invite friends to game nights, or join clubs and groups you're interested in. It’s been fun for me to get together with co-workers (turned friends) from years gone by, and I enjoyed lunching with my favorite high school teacher.

Three women pose for a photo after lunch outing.
This past summer, my friend Pamela (right) and I reconnected with our favorite high school teacher, Carol (left).

Adopt! Wait, What?!

Two dogs look at camera

If you're feeling the absence of your kids, consider adopting a pet. Our furry friends provide companionship and endless entertainment. Bob and I get so much joy spending time with our two Australian Shepherds, Cobi and Moose (see photo). I cannot say enough good things that come from bringing pets into our home and adding them to our family. Not only do they offer unconditional love, but they also provide us with entertainment and encourage us to get outside and get moving.


 

Becoming empty nesters is a unique life milestone. With a bit of planning and investing in new (or renewed) interests, you can turn this transition into a fantastic new chapter. Embrace the quiet, relish the togetherness, and remember that it's a chance to rediscover pursuits of earlier days – with your spouse, your home, and the exciting future ahead. Happy empty nesting!

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2 Comments


Guest
Nov 02, 2023

Great lede, Heather! 😃 And would love to meet your daring doggie duo some day. Hope your upcoming getaway is marvelous—sounds like it’ll be a winner!

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Heather McDorman
Heather McDorman
Nov 02, 2023
Replying to

Thank you … would love to know who this is - and so would my pups!

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