Parenthood certainly keeps us busy. There is never enough time for us and for the most part we accept that fact. But what happens when the nest is empty, how do we fill that void? More importantly, should we wait until the nest is completely empty before planning life without children?
As our children become older we are required less and less, finding ourselves with time on our hands. Don’t waste it looking at the phone, just in case a call comes through or clean their room as a surprise! Use the time to find the ‘new’ you or even the ‘old’ you, who was left behind when children came along. Did you have a hobby or craft you really enjoyed? Are there supplies stacked away in a cupboard waiting to see the light of day? Have you always wanted to try something but never had the time? Re-discover yourself, your passion, the inner you that has been buried for so long. It’s alright to pursue something for yourself not only because it keeps us vibrant and interested but it also shows others, including our children, that we are our own person after all, with a life!
So how do we start? Firstly, don’t jump straight into something or do anything drastic. Selling the house and setting off to backpack your way around the world might need more than a moment’s thought. There will be feelings of loss and emptiness, which is normal, so take time to gather yourself. This may take a few weeks or a few months, each person is different. Whichever it is, take heart in knowing you will always be Mom or Dad but needed in different ways. With the house so quiet, you may feel like you are rattling around in it with a stranger, just remember you are both grieving. Be understanding and actively listen to each other. Have you got similar ideas on what you want to do or are you polar opposites? Either way can work, if there is communication and understanding. Maybe golf three times a week excites you or making quilts for third nation countries is your thing. Whatever your choices, plan around each other’s schedules so you have time to share your new passion, it will surprise you how lively and energetic your partner becomes. This is a fresh liberating stage in your lives, embrace it.
Now where to start? Contemplate your options and interests and decide on one or two to try. Yes, I said try because we change and what was all encompassing several decades ago might not be so inspiring now. Use community resources to find groups or organizations and go along to a few meetings. Get a ‘taste’ of how the group interacts and if the pastime/hobby/craft still appeals, if not move along to the next one. The Strathcona County library has numerous resources and notice boards and you can find event listings on the Strathcona County website or use your search engine to find local groups. Challenge yourself. Make a self-centered goal list…take the time to find what engages you and remember change doesn’t happen in an instant. Enjoy the journey the goal is just the icing on the cake.
Are you panicking yet? There are no hard and fast rules about what you should do and in what timeframe. Maybe start off slow. Have a movie night, read a novel a week, eat take out, meet friends for coffee on Sunday morning, it’s up to you how you enjoy your time. Don’t beat yourself up if the class or group didn’t turn out the way you expected, there are always other options. Just remember it’s your ‘new’ life and tailor it the way you want to live it.
I hope this gives you an insight and some hope.