Three children standing posing together

Tips for Empty Nesters

by Rick Halberg

Within a span of five days, my wife and I went from having a house filled with three teenagers to being full-fledged empty nesters. After we moved our 18-year-old triplets to three different colleges in three different Illinois cities, we were feeling more than a little melancholy, as I’m sure most parents do when they come home to a quiet house.

Don’t worry. If you’re like me, your thoughts will eventually turn from loneliness to lower water bills, food costs cut in half and relaxing evenings at home.

Even though a little worry is inevitable, here are a few things that helped me  prepare to be an empty nester:

Times have changed since you left home. Your child will most likely not have to face many of the same challenges you had at 18. A smart phone and GPS go a long way towards putting a parent’s mind at ease.

Spend a little time making sure they’re prepared. Can your kid do their own laundry? Can they cook a meal for themselves? Have they paid bills? A few lessons can help your 18-year-old (and you) feel more confident.

Home is only a phone call away. Staying in touch is so much easier today. Be sure to keep the lines of communication open, whether it’s via text, email, chat or other means. As old-fashioned as it may sound, send them something in the mail. It’s still a great feeling to find something from home in their mailbox.

Remember having a life before kids? This can be a great opportunity to get back to some of the things you enjoyed before you became a parent. Get together with friends, take a painting class, or perform in local theatre. Or if you’re like me, play more guitar.

Sending kids to college is another step we take as we go through life. As with every step we take, a little preparation now can make a big difference down the road.

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