Midlife Parenting: Alone in the Nest

Midlife Parenting: Alone in the Nest

bird nest with baby birds

Empty Nest: How to Cope With the Transition

As my kids matured and developed I did a bit of mental preparation for the day when they would be ready to fly the nest. I knew this would be a bittersweet experience for me, as it is for many.

It has been six years since my daughter, Kyleigh, left for college, and ten years for my son Zach. Midlife is a busy time. Writing this it seems impossible that it’s been so long. I can now look back and evaluate the whole process I went through as they left home without the intense feelings.

A mix of emotions is typical. You may have been through this yourself, feeling excited for your children to spread their wings and begin their adult lives. Yet at the same time the thoughts of I’m going to miss seeing them daily and did I do a good-enough job may race through your head. I felt happy for each of them and certainly didn’t want to dampen their enthusiasm to venture out into the world. But, what would become of my kids when I wasn’t close by to guide them with my infinite wisdom?

 

bird flying out of a birdhouse

 

A bit irrational, I know. Melodramatic thoughts are often part of the transition–at least they were for me! A lot of emotions surface with this life change. Guilt, of course, is to be expected. As moms must of us are well-versed at guilt-tripping ourselves.

Don’t should on yourself–I should feel happy or I should have been a better mom or I should have bought her that pony for Christmas even though we lived in town and I could never have afforded to feed it.

This really is a fairly big event in our lives, although we may minimize it at the time.

Change, even the good stuff, brings about stress and a grieving process. Out with the old and in with the new. Be aware of this. A range of emotions, including sadness and anger, is not uncommon. Allow yourself to grieve and be kind to yourself.

 

 

It is tough working through what may seem like an emotional roller coaster ride. Share your feelings with the support people in your life. Connect with others who have already launched a child or two, or possibly more. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you feel this transition is causing a lingering sadness. Having your kids leave home can bring on full-blown depression.

Midlife is a time to re-evaluate your relationship with your children. You are not losing them, but things will progressively become different and new. I offer a positive perspective on this in the article My 5 Favorite Things About Parenting Adult Children.

bird sitting on a wooden post

Life is a Book Unwritten and Only You Hold the Pen

Forward–what does life look like once the kids are off on their own adventures? I will rephrase this and put it into a different perspective–what do you want your life to look like heading into the future?

As you heal it is time to start dreaming about redefining your identity. This can be an enlightening time.  Being a parent is a huge part of who we are for so many years. We often lose our sense of self throughout the process. And many of us never had it to begin with.

Now’s the time for you. I recommend journaling to help in designing your new life. I found a great article you may find helpful– Self-Discovery Prompts for Your Bullet Journal.  Writing helps us sort out and clarify our thoughts. We can then process the ideas and information at a deeper level.

Is there a class you would like to take on painting, yoga, or possibly to start working toward a degree you’ve always wanted? How about turning one of those empty bedrooms into an art studio? Janet, my other half here at Boom2Bloom, trained for and completed a full marathon.

Do you want to travel? Start working on an intention board to make that trip to Paris finally happen. Check out my article here–Create an Intention Board to Manifest Your Dreams.

This is a personal journey–because it is all about you. Therefore, only you can decide how to create this next chapter in midlife. What an exciting and empowering reality!

 

What has your experience been as your children have left home? Please share your insight in the comments below.

Till next time, Sandra

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8 Fun Ideas for Spending Time with Your Adult Children

8 Fun Ideas for Spending Time with Your Adult Children

Good Times Create Great Memories

Spending time with my children, Zach and Kyleigh, is something I always look forward to. I am fortunate, as my kids enjoy doing similar activities. This makes it easier when we are all able to get together. That doesn’t happen often, but I cherish the times when it does.

I came up with ideas for planning a day with your adult children. Focus on what they like to do is a good first step. Luckily, neither of my kids has suggested sky-diving yet.

Museum of Your Choice

The Art Institute of Chicago can easily be a day trip if you live in Wisconsin. For my birthday this year I spent the day with Kyleigh and her friend, Sara,who is like a daughter to me. We met in Milwaukee early morning. We took the train down to Chicago, and visited the art museum and walked through Millenium Park. Art is one of my passions, and this is one of the top ten art museums in the world. Therefore, it is one of my all-time favorite places. two friends standing in front of the Art Institute of Chicago

 

County or State Park for Hiking

What better way to spend a day with your kids, than enjoying a hike. Getting fresh air and physical activity are additional bonuses when you choose this option.

 

Farmer’s Market

My kids and I love farmer’s market because we love fresh food. And, baked goods. You can justify the baked goods with all the walking you are doing and vegetables you are purchasing to take home. 

 

Concertsandra and her daughter at a concert

I mentioned in a previous post about how my daughter invited me to a concert featuring the Boston band, Dropkick Murphys. I had never heard of them. A bit of online research informed me they are a Celtic punk band, therefore, out of my genre. But I couldn’t resist spending time with my daughter–we have fun no matter what we do- so I said yes. And, I had a lot of fun. If only we had a picture at the concert that wasn’t taken in the dark! 

 

Volunteer

Black and white cat sitting in a box

I am a huge animal advocate, and the Fundraising Coordinator for the local humane society. Therefore, volunteering for my family typically means animal-related events.

Any volunteer activity is a great way to help your community and spend quality time with your kids. There is a wide variety to choose from; have a discussion on what causes mean the most to each of you, then pick an event.

We found our Ella Bella at a fundraising event Kyleigh and I were volunteering at. Our table was set up right next to all the adoptable cats they brought in to show off.

Really, who could resist?

 

 

 

Wine Tasting & Food Festivals

All you have to do is Google wine tasting and you’ll see options of events in your state for any given period of time. The link below is an example, offering food and wine festival options for this fall in Wisconsin.

Travel Wisconsin Fall Food & Wine Festivals

 

Wine & Art Class

These are so much fun, and not too expensive. Everyone goes home with a work of art created together. Plus, your art on the wall becomes a visual trigger for the memories of this time you spent with your kids.

 

Take a Class of Their Choicemother and daughter taking a lesson in glass blowing

 

Kyleigh bought me a glass-blowing class for my birthday last year. As you can see, we had a great time!

It’s all about having fun and making the most of the time you spend with your kids. Quality time is the key once your kids are adults.

Till next time, Sandra

Please share what you and your kids like to do together in the comments below!

 

 

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My 5 Favorite Things About Parenting Adult Children

My 5 Favorite Things About Parenting Adult Children

 

Single-parenting is one of those roles that devours your energy like an insatiable beast. I remember feeling stretched to my limit, wondering how I would possibly get up and do it all over again the next day. Looking back, I think–how did I? 

I remember being told “the days may sometimes seem like they are eternal, but the years fly by quickly.” 

No truer words have ever been spoken. You do what you have to do, and then get up and do it again. Looking back, I am grateful for the quality time I was able to have with my kids. Those years of parenting now provide me with the deepest sense of purpose imaginable.

As my kids, Zach and Kyleigh, have grown and become more self-reliant, our relationship has naturally shifted.The parenting process of guiding my children to become healthy, happy, functioning adults has come full circle. Letting go and encouraging their independence has been part of the journey, leading to our new bond based in equality and friendship.

The past ten years have been a gradual process of my kids graduating high school, leaving for college, and moving away. Reality, and a bit of the empty nest syndrome, hit home for me when my youngest left for college. I came up with a list of the positive aspects of having the home to myself, mainly to make myself feel better! Here are a few of my observations on these changes:

 

1. Less Mess

Stating the obvious, I know. However, it really is nice to come out of my room in the morning and not have to clean up after anyone. I remember the time I came out to the smell of burnt something, I madly searched for a smoldering fire, only to discover a pizza had been left in the oven too long. If there had been a fire, somebody had put it out before morning. Despite the occasional evidence of the shenanigans my cats were up to that night, things are how I left them. 

 

2. More Me Time

I used to spend more time cleaning, cooking, and shopping, among other things. Chauffeuring my kids here and there was time-consuming! Obviously, I have more time to fulfill my own needs and wants now. How each of us spends this time is a personal choice. I have more time to paint, travel, hike, and have an occasional glass of wine with friends. And, of course, I started this blog–something I never would have thought about doing as a single mom working full-time and raising two kids. 

 

3. Fewer Worries

Fewer responsibilities mean fewer worries. No longer do I spend time and energy waiting up for teenagers to pull in the driveway late at night. I am not anxiously coming home after work to find out how the speech that we practiced the evening before went that day. Nor do I worry about mean kids bullying my son, or my daughter’s catty friends deciding to turn on her (middle school years).

 

4. New Perspective

Just like other areas of my life, I realize I took my relationship with my kids for granted at times when they lived at home. This is a natural consequence of day-to-day life stress and commitments. I appreciate my kids more now, and am grateful for the time I spend with them, and the amazing adults they have become.

 

5. Our Friendship

The best part of having adult children is the friendship we share. With less responsibility, I have more energy and time to focus on a deeper friendship with Zach and Kyleigh. We enjoy many of the same things; time together is about quality rather than quantity. I take plenty of road trips to see them, and my door is always open for any spontaneous visits they may bless me with!

 

Share your insight on life with adult children in the comments below!

 

Till next time–Sandra

 

Why Can’t We Be Friends? Parenting Adult Children

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Midlife Parenting: Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Midlife Parenting:  Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Parents and grown up children walking through autumn woods

Having a Grown-Up Relationship With Your Kids

Many years ago a wise person gave me this parenting advice “The days may often drag, but the years fly by.” No truer words have ever been spoken regarding raising our children.

As your children make the transition from adolescent to adult family roles inevitably shift. This is a process that happens over a period of time, the length of which depends on each child. Children mature and become more independent and parents slowly let go emotionally.

Ah, letting go. The term is so short and sweet–but is often not the easiest thing to do. Midlife is about changes, especially when it comes to parenting.

How much and when do we take a step back? This can be confusing, and the guidelines on this depend on your child’s maturity, development, and personality. Some kids are much more independent and strong-willed from day one. These kids charge into independence with great enthusiasm, knowing the exact path to take to get to where they want to be.

My daughter Kyleigh has always been this type of person. I knew she was one of these kids before she was even born just by the pregnancy! These kids know which college they want to attend, the major and minor they will pursue, and what they will do in college to pad their resume.

Then there’s the adolescent who is a bit more leery about going to college, not sure about getting a job, and would rather live in your basement forever… It’s tough to know how to find balance at times. How involved should we be in our child’s decision making? If we don’t question, encourage and even hound them will they ever leave home at all? 

Of course we’re still available as a confidante and support person. But we do need to take a step back and not always jump in to rescue them from grown-up issues. It’s tough to let our young adults struggle and even fall. However, difficulties teach a great lesson about their own strength and perseverance–and how we believe they are capable of handling their lives as adults.

I found an article offering advise on how to establish a healthy balance on the AARP website written by Elizabeth Fishel and Dr. Jeffrey Jensen Arnett. Here are several of the tips they offer to help with this transition.  You can read the whole article here: Parenting Adult Children

Parenting Adult Children: Are You a Good Friend to Your Grown-up Kid?

Emerging adults need a different kind of closeness than when they were young. They need emotional support that helps boost, not stifle, their confidence in their own coping skills, and they need parents to bear witness to their increasing capacity to take on responsibilities, even if there are setbacks or mishaps along the way.

Observe respectful boundaries

For emerging adults, keeping a privacy buffer is a crucial part of defining a separate identity, building confidence in making decisions, and learning to stand on their own. Parents who have cherished a close relationship when their children were younger may feel hurt if they sense their grown kids pulling away. Suddenly kids are balking at coming home during their vacations or are no longer available for lengthy phone chats. While it’s natural to miss the former intimacy, it helps to understand their increased need for distance is appropriate for this stage of their lives and not to take it as a personal affront.

Listen more than you talk

Restraint is the elusive virtue now required of you, to keep from giving too much unwelcome advice or asking too many nosy questions. After years of hands-on parenting, you may bristle at how often you must bite your tongue as your children make both smart and foolish decisions. You may struggle with the want-to-fix-its, but if you jump in too quickly to unravel grown kids’ dilemmas, their important problem-solving muscles won’t have a chance to develop.

Do what you love together and intimacy will follow

When kids were young, family time happened inevitably. But now to hang out with your cooking-on-all-burners 20-somethings, you need to get creative.

Many parents will go to great lengths to carve out time and activities that work for their grown children. Hard-to-get baseball tickets or dinner reservations, biking, skiing, even training for a marathon, like one gutsy, 64-year-old mother of two agile sons. Her report: “My knees hurt, but I learned so much about them.”

Jigsaw puzzles work for the less athletic, according to another mother of three sons ages 18 to 25. Heart-to-hearts follow their shared searches for matching pieces.

 

Making A Connection

It’s about having fun, whatever that means to you and your kids.

I don’t know about your kids, but mine would roll their eyes if I asked them to spend time working on a puzzle. My children like to test me.

A mother and her young adult daughterLast year my daughter invited me to a concert featuring the Boston band, Dropkick Murphys. I had never heard of them. A bit of online research informed me they are a Celtic punk band, therefore, out of my genre. But I couldn’t resist spending time with my daughter–we have fun no matter what we do– so I said yes.

 

You might be interested in reading my post on 8 Fun Ideas For Spending Time With Your Adult Children.

Any parent will tell you it isn’t easy at any stage–some would even call it a roller coaster ride. However, in midlife we have the opportunity to re-establish our relationship with our children, let go of some responsibility, and simply enjoy each other’s company.

Our time together now is about quality versus quantity. I value these precious times, and in my experience, adult children make magnificent friends!

We would love to hear your take on this topic. Please share in the comments below.

Till next time, Sandra

 

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