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Tell us a little bit about yourself. (age, # of children and ages, marital status, how long ago you became an empty nester, and anything about you that you think is relevant)
I’m 59 years old. I gave birth to four children and helped raise two more by marriage. I’ve been married, divorced, and am in a committed relationship of many years. I became an empty nester about 10 years ago. Before meeting my partner, I was a single mother for about eight years. I also worked from home as an independent contractor for many, many years.
What were the circumstances of your last child leaving home and what were your initial emotions.?
My last child left home to go to college. I was excited and happy for her to explore life. I was also excited because I was moving out of the country.
Did you make any changes in your lifestyle or living arrangements after you became an empty nester?
My lifestyle didn’t really change. I had worked from home for many years and continued doing that. I downsized from a four-bedroom (all six kids) to an apartment (two kids) and finally to a cabin in the woods (just me). I had always wanted to live somewhere different. As time was nearing for my last child to leave, I started researching locations. My second child and I went on a road trip north to Canada. We found an ad for a cabin rental and I knew I’d found what I was looking for. It was exactly what was needed.
What has been the biggest change in your relationships since becoming an empty nester?
There weren’t really any changes with relationships when the kids left.
What do you think is the most difficult thing about becoming an empty nester?
I probably differ from many people when it comes to this. I didn’t find anything difficult about becoming an empty nester. The kids were no longer under my roof and I had to trust that they would be okay. That was a hard one but I felt I had to let go or go crazy. One thing that was difficult was not being in the other room when they were hurt physically or emotionally. We made sure to talk often.
What do you wish you might have known about life as an empty nester?
I definitely would have benefited by learning how to cook for one or two instead of an army! The pride you have in your kids is greater when you see how they live their lives. Yes, you’re proud of all their achievements in school, games, character, etc. but as adults, it’s THEIR choice how they live their lives. To see them make caring and loving choices in their lives, with friends, and their passions is the best!
What advice would you give someone whose last child is about to leave home?
Enjoy the time you have with them and then let go. Let them know that you are always there. They will make mistakes. Let them.
What do you think are the advantages of being an empty nester?
Peace and freedom! You get to learn about yourself as a person and not a mother. Yes, that’s part of who you are but there are so many other sides. You can do what you want and explore anything that strikes your fancy.
How has your life changed since your children left home?
I changed careers and lived in another country. I made friends that had nothing to do with schools or kid activities. The stress and responsibilities of raising children are gone. Crackers and hummus can be what’s for dinner!
Any additional thoughts, comments or advice?
My final thought would be to trust yourself. You’ve raised them. You should know that what you put into them will serve them. It’ll be okay!