This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission to help keep my blog up and running, but it won't cost you a penny more). For more information, please read my disclosure policy.
Believe it or not, there are some pretty great things about being an empty nester!
It might take you a little while to notice.
When your children first leave and you are left to find your balance in your newly emptied nest, you might find it difficult to believe that there’s anything to celebrate.
You might even look at these 12 awesome fringe benefits of having your home to yourself as something to be sad about.
But take a deep breath, look around and see if you can relate to the new freedoms of being in a children-free home.
These might not ALL appeal to you, but enjoy the ones that bring new opportunity and fun into your life.
Rather than sink into misery and see everything that is different as a bad thing, you need to invest yourself in the great things about being an empty nester, create new habits and do fun things just because you can.
Life is far from over and you have to make it worth living.
12 Great Things About Being An Empty Nester
1. You will have a much lower grocery bill
My husband and I were recently at Costco and as we were walking through the food aisle, he reminded me that I had to do a big grocery run before the kids came home for the holidays (substitute summer vacation if you’re reading this then). I blanched at the thought of my pristine refrigerator once again bursting with massive quantities of food that has to be replaced every few days.
Grocery shopping used to occupy a few hours of my week because multiple runs to the store had to be made after my teenagers ate ingredients that had been purchased for dinners.
Now, I’m in and out of the store in very little time. I plan a few simple dinners for two and easily move things around as it suits us. The pantry is neat and spacious and the refrigerator and freezer are clean, neatly organized and have plenty of room.
2. Your house stays clean and picked up
As a clean freak, that was the first thing I noticed. I can leave all the doors in the house open because the beds are neatly made up, there is no dirty laundry or piled up dishes on the floors and everything smells nice.
Even with a huge furry dog, it doesn’t take long at all to sweep the floors and tidy up. I’ve taken to lightening the rooms even more. The knick knacks that I liked once upon a time are boxed up and put away. I like the simplicity and flow of our rooms better now that there is just less “stuff” filling them.
I do think this is one of my favorite great things about being an empty nester.
3. You will have less laundry & dishes to run
Our washer and dryer were in use daily when the kids were home. And they will be again when they all come home for weekends or holidays. But with just two of us, we do a small load of clothing and towels each week and that’s it.
Our dishwasher doesn’t know what to do with itself! I’ve always been a cook that washes and puts away things during prep, but my athletic kids would fix second and third dinners for themselves and the dishwasher either was crammed to the gills by evening or needed a second run. And guess who unloaded extra loads?
Now we run it every other day since we just don’t create that much of a mess.
4. You will be able to travel anywhere, at any time of the year
Let that sink in for a second. You do not have to take your precious vacation time during the only 10 days in which there is no school or athletic or other extracurricular commitment.
For us, that was the middle two weeks of August. Swim team took a one month break, but the faster swimmer in the family had extra meets into August.
Then school usually started the 3rd or 4th week of August.
That left us a very narrow window of opportunity in which we could fight every other family like ours that was trying to squeeze in a Disneyland or beach vacation.
Having an empty nest means that you can take advantage of the fabulous off-season rates to the places you want to go to.
It’s totally great if Disneyland is your thing, but how about Tahiti?
Or the Canadian Rockies?
Are there destinations you didn’t consider because you knew the kids would rebel at museums, historical landmarks and fine restaurants?
The world is yours now!
5. Your budget won’t be hit with nickel and dime school expenses
How many times have you picked up your kids at the end of the first week of school and been presented with yet another list of necessary supplies. Then again for every last minute project and dance recital and athletic fees?
If you are paying all or part of your children’s college tuition, or helping with a monthly stipend, the costs are fixed and you can create a budget around them.
We’ve certainly had times when it was necessary to deposit a little extra cash in one child’s account or the other, but it didn’t involve late evening runs to Walmart for poster board or driving across town to replace lost equipment.
Financial sanity is starting to make itself felt in the empty nest!
6. You can be impulsive and romantic.
Or romantically impulsive. No one is judging you.
It’s lovely to be able to totally uninhibited at home, knowing that your children are not going to walk in on you.
You can be naked all day. You can have sex in every room of the house. Your husband can talk dirty to you all day long.
The. Kids. Won’t. Know!
It’s a little bit of a guilty pleasure at first, but you’ll get used to it.
At least until the next round of vacations!
7. You can do something for yourself that you’ve put on hold
What was it you dreamed about when you were raising your children?
Did you imagine going back to school and making a career change?
Were you too busy to follow some creative path?
Were you a stay at home mom who has been dreaming of starting a late career?
What are you waiting for?
Despite the happily-debunked idea that we can do it all, there has always been a price to be paid for motherhood.
We paid it gladly, because our children were worth it, but now it’s time to dream a little.
And then go for it.
8. You can have blissful nights of uninterrupted sleep
No more staying semi-awake, listening for the garage door to let in the last wandering chick before finally falling asleep.
No worrying when you startled awake, looked at the alarm clock, and realized that your child was an hour late coming home.
You can now lock the doors when you go to bed and rest easy.
9. You can go out to dinner out more often
We have a large family, so going out to dinner was always a special treat.
I love our family dinners out but now that the kids are gone, my husband and I eat out more often.
We get to choose the restaurants we like instead of trying to please a crowd (“But I don’t like sushi! Why do we have to go for Mexican food again?? We just went last week.”).
We love to try new tiny restaurants that we know the kids wouldn’t like and we get great tables instead of the large booth by the kitchen door.
10. You don’t have to share (lose) your things
Ah girls … If I brought home a nice body lotion I’d discovered, I would usually get to use it once or twice before it found it’s way into one of our daughters’ room.
Teenage girls love bright shiny objects and they like them even more if they belong to their mothers.
Sometimes they’ll come right out and tell you that the cute earrings you just bought would look better on them than on you.
Now you get to keep all the bright shiny objects for yourself.
Just make sure you hide them when they come home.
11. You don’t have to be the family chauffeur anymore
That job always fell to me because they usually needed to be taken places in the morning, after my husband left for work, or before he came home.
Drive to school, drive to a friend’s house, drive to the store, drive to practice, drive to the doctor, drive everywhere.
There are now entire days when my car stays right where I left it the day before.
You’ll love shopping again because you can take as little or as long as you like doing it.
No side errands or time taken from your job or free time to shuttle kids from place to place.
You’ll get so much more accomplished and your car will stay a lot cleaner.
No cleaning out the fast food bags and drippy cups, no pulling a girls’ makeup out of the side arm pockets, no putting your shoes back on to go out when you’re exhausted from work.
12. You don’t have to complain about undone chores
You don’t have the kids around to do the chores anymore, but you’ll quickly find that even the ones you thought were a big deal aren’t at all.
The dishwasher takes two minutes to empty, laundry is a breeze, and even picking up the yard after the dog is surprisingly easy.
The jobs may all be ours but they are proportionally smaller with two people and we get them done and move on.
No more complaining, no nagging.
There are a lot of great things about being an empty nester.
Don’t get too attached to all these new freedoms, though.
If your kids are like mine, they’ll be back just about when you’ve gotten used to them.
Which, of course, is wonderful.
And which will make you appreciate your new life even more when they go back to school or their homes.