Having children go off to university, or enter the world of work, can be a tricky adjustment for all of us. We might find it strange laying the table for three people instead of four, and we will try our hardest not to incessantly ring them and check how they are, reminding them to change their bed sheets. The house dynamic is certain to change, and we will be missing them terribly. It is likely you will even miss nagging them to tidy their rooms, or you’ll miss waiting up for them when they’re coming home from a party – even when you’re insanely tired – to make sure they are safe.
Having an empty nest can definitely be hard, but it’s also an amazing time for our children, as they take their first steps into the big wide world. We have done our jobs; we have nurtured them, with our endless encouragement, unfaltering love, and sometimes a bit of “cruel-to-be-kind” discipline, so that they are independent enough to live on their own and spread their wings. It’s definitely a change – but it’s not necessarily a bad one.
The hustle and bustle of having your children around, with all their friends, mess and teenage dilemmas, might be something you’re used to – but having a quiet house, and more time to spend with your partner and friends, could be just what you need. Up until now, everything has always been about them, so you deserve a bit of time to focus on you!
So rather than letting your children growing up get you down, we give you our 9 biggest reasons to embrace the empty nest!
1. You can put a bit of romance back into your life
Having children can sometimes mean romance is put on hold – but now you’ll have much more time to spend with your partner. You can go to the theatre, do all those things you swore you’d do but never had the time, and you can have a candlelit dinner without worrying about your son coming in with muddy shoes and a load of rowdy friends!
2. Your children will appreciate you more
Although you may already have a brilliant relationship with your children, they’re sure to appreciate you even more when they’re living on their own. When they’re living with messy housemates who never wash up, they’ll probably start to understand your nagging; when they’re ill, they’ll miss having someone to bring them Chicken soup and tuck them up in bed. As they begin to understand and appreciate you more, it could lead to you having a better relationship, and they might even call you without you having to ask!
3. You’ll have complete control of the TV remote
Gone are the days of sifting through endless recordings of ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ to find that documentary you wanted to watch, and waiting impatiently for the television by the living-room door. Gone, at least, until the holidays begin!
4. Holiday periods will become more special
With your kids away for most of the year, holiday periods will be much more special. Christmas and Easter will be a lovely time to reunite and catch up, and it will be really beautiful to see all your family sitting around the dinner table once again!
5. You can catch up with other empty-nest friends
Both having children at university can bring you closer to friends you wouldn’t normally have time for. You’ll be able to see them more, and you can also laugh and share experiences about how your children are getting on in halls or student flats, and how you’re adjusting to it all.
6. They can cook for you
Since they are able to live independently, you can casually request that they cook you a meal for once, or they can handle the washing for the week. No more excuses that they don’t know how or they’re too young – you can definitely use their new-found independence against them for some more help in the house when they’re home!
7. You can take the time to bond
Whether they’re an hour away, or five hours, you can take the time to bond with your children individually by visiting them at university. It’s a great opportunity to meet all of their friends, see their library (which is obviously where they spend all of their time) and really reconnect and get to know them as an adult, rather than as your little baby.
8. You can treat yourself
Without your children around demanding attention or asking for lifts, you can take the time to do things for yourself. You can book a spa break with a friend, or spontaneously go out for dinner if you can’t be bothered to cook – you’re not constantly having to think about your children, so use the opportunity to do things that really make YOU happy!
9. You get to watch your children succeed and do what they love
As much as it is difficult to say goodbye, there is nothing more rewarding than watching your children enter the world and live out their dreams. All your hard work, parenting them and loving them, has paid off and now they are little butterflies spreading their wings. Of course – this doesn’t mean you won’t always be there for them, just that you can rest assured they are independent and capable young people. Just think of that Graduation day – you will never be so proud in your life!
So if you’ve already got an empty nest, or you can feel it getting closer and closer every day, just remember that life is a journey – so enjoy the ride!