Last month I talked about 9 ways for parents to transition their children and themselves back into the school routine. I also wrote about how to prepare for that first dorm room. But what if your little one is off to college this month and you’re suddenly an empty nester? This can be one of the hardest, and biggest transitions for a parent who’s had kids in the house for twenty years. Judging by the experience of my own mother, a woman who I consider to be the strongest, most level headed person I know, becoming an empty nester nearly killed her. Yes, this may seem over dramatic, but my father bought her a large diamond tennis bracelet thinking this would get her out of her slumber; later a puppy and then a new car. He said it was their most expensive year to date, and not because of my tuition but the cost of helping my mother cope.

How to become an empty nester

Many parents think that becoming an empty nester is going to be one of the most exciting experiences because they are finally getting their freedom back. Don’t get me wrong, it can be but only if approached correctly. Many parents put too high of expectations and energy on the event of their child leaving rather than themselves and the near future. This will only set you up for failure. Driving all that energy into getting your child set up for their new dorm room, furnishings, books, health exams, final vacations, and then that day hits and suddenly it’s just the two of you on the drive home to an empty house. Oh no!

When becoming an empty nester don’t change your child’s room right away. This can be hard on the parent and on the dynamic of the family as a whole. But do take advantage of your newfound freedom and time. Volunteer, go back to school or pick up a hobby. For the first time in your life you can truly be selfish. Take up a yoga class to become more centered and grounded. Meditate and focus on all the good this new chapter in your life will bring. Oh yes!

And finally, if you don’t like a lot of quiet in your home invite more guests over. Entertain neighbors, join a book club, have bible study at your home and find new ways to bring laughter and joy into your home. If you prefer quiet, enjoy this newfound silence and sense of being.

Change can be hard, but it can also be very exciting when embraced with a loving heart. Redecorate a room, buy fresh linens, and bring in fresh cut flowers. Light scented candles, and learn to indulge in the little things. Small things can really elevate your mood and before you know it, it’s the holidays, a time when family finds it’s way home!