Live a Full Life with an Empty Nest
Your kids have started families of their own. You’re retired, so work and finances are no longer the massive headaches that they used to be. Most importantly, you and your spouse finally have a freedom that you may never have had before, to do whatever you want together. The question is – how are you going to spend all this newfound free time?
You may be thinking that that’s a bridge you will cross eventually, but the earlier you plan for an empty nest, the better. “Start having your life now, so that the shock isn't so shocking,” advises Christie Mellor, author of “Fun Without Dick and Jane: Your Guide to a Delightfully Empty Nest”.
But don’t just plan ahead – make sure you go out and do everything you set out to do. After all, letting your plans fall to the wayside can lead to negative side effects.
Empty nest depression does not hit everyone, but for those it does affect, it can come in many forms.
With the kids gone, you could experience a loss of identity. After years in the role as a parent, not having the kids around could potentially leave you feeling aimless and without a purpose.
Having the kids gone could also affect your relationship with your spouse. Because you’re so used to your role as a father or mother, you may have forgotten how to be a husband or wife.
Guilt is also another way in which empty nest depression could manifest itself. You might find yourself worrying about whether you’ve prepared your children well enough for the world ahead of them.
Filling Up the Empty Nest
The good news is that there are many ways to combat empty nest depression, while keeping your mind active and sharp.
One of the simplest solutions is just to stay active. This could mean anything from going out camping with friends and family, redecorating the home with your spouse or even doing volunteer work. Keeping your body moving also keeps your mind moving, and stops you from dwelling on problems that you either have no control over or don’t even affect you all that much.
You’re also at the perfect stage in your life to start learning new things too. Some empty nesters would go so far as to enrol themselves in schools, but you don’t even need to do that. With the Internet, you could easily just watch any video or read a few articles to learn more about whatever topics you’re interested in.
If you’re looking to take a more active role in your learning though, you could also pick up a musical instrument like the guitar or a hobby like woodcarving – something that keeps both your hands and your mind occupied.
Spending Time Together
Before any disconnect with your spouse even has a chance to set in, you could start spending more time together, just as the kids are beginning to move on with their own lives. Go out on dates like you used to or even just simple walks through the park – anything that helps remind you why the two of you fell in love in the first place. If you start early, that transition from the role of parents back to the roles of husband and wife will be a lot smoother.
To further help with this transition, you could spend more time with your spouse while also reconnecting with some old friends. Organise cocktail parties together and invite other empty nesters over to catch up. This helps everyone acclimatise to their new stage in life.
Most importantly, just remember to have fun. Like we said before, you have all the freedom in the world now. No matter how you decide to spend it, you and your spouse will be fine as long as you enjoy yourselves.