7 Steps to Your Best Empty Nest

“Hey, that’s cool. I still like you!”

That’s what I said to my husband, six months after we became empty nesters. I laugh about it, but, truth is, after so many years of rushing around to games, classes, events, and whatever else populated our kids’ calendars, I was relieved that I still adore my husband. We’d worked our whole adult lives rearing our kids, preparing them for college and life thereafter. We’d done it! Great. Now what?

“Empty nest” conjures up all sorts of images. Most of them are forlorn or brushed off with a bumper sticker that jokes about which university your kids and money go to.

Empty nesting doesn’t have to be that way at all. The secret? View it less like a lonely nest and more like a blank canvas. Here are seven tips to get you started:

What doesn’t spark joy?

Take this opportunity to KonMari your life. A personal inventory will let you identify the habits and hobbies you want to hold on to and let you move past parts of your routine that don't spark joy.

couple holding hands walkingHere’s your chance to replace an evening snack in front of the television with a walk or a glass of wine enjoyed over grown-up conversation. (Yes! Grown-up conversation is still real and it waited for you while you were busy child-rearing.)

Not only does this “tidying” set you up for success; it is a healthy way to acknowledge this new phase of life.

Serve your community.

Remember all those nights you spent counting the seconds until you had the house to yourself? Why is it that now you cry because you don’t find yourself picking up teens’ underwear that made it almost to the hamper?

Get outside yourself. Volunteer! Benefits of volunteerism range from increased activity and decreased anxiety/depression to learning new skills and living longer. Looking for the best place to donate your time and energy? You’re a click away from Give For Frisco, where you’ll find dozens of opportunities to serve.

Spend a night on the town.

Reconnect with your partner, friends, or business associates. Swap your athleisure for dressier garb and explore Frisco’s nightlife.

car couple driving empty nestAn evening at the Star, the Rail District, or any of the fantastic destination dining options around town is the ticket to add a spring to your step and smile to your face.

Learn something new.

With UNT’s growing Frisco presence, and Collin College’s SAIL (Seniors Active In Learning), it’s a great time to tackle that talent or a new skill you’ve wanted to develop. If you’re more of an informal student, make sure to check out learning opportunities offered through your place of worship, city departments, and any of the great, crafty local businesses. The variety is amazing and many courses have minimal or no fees.

Time for a new nest?

Let’s face it. Your house is set up for a family. Even after you tidy up your home and reallocate some spaces, it might still not feel right. Take this chance to update your existing nest or downsize to the cozy home or townhome of your dreams.

There are great new living options popping up daily. Want to live and play near others in this stage of life? Frisco offers active senior-living options, too.

Did you say SENIORS?

Okay. Here’s the part where we acknowledge that we might be getting older. No worries! Frisco has you covered. For one thing, Frisco’s growing up with you.

empty nest couple beachThe median age of Frisco residents has grown from 30.9 in 2000, to 33.9 in 2010, up to 36.6 in 2018. As we get closer to appreciating AARP membership and “senior” discounts, we can also be grateful that this town is equipped to look after an aging population.

Don’t worry. None of us looks a day over 25. (wink, wink)

Seriously, Frisco is a great community for the over 50 set. The existing Senior Center at Frisco Square offers fun and educational groups, classes, and events. With a planned opening in 2020, The Grove at Frisco Commons, an active adults center, will nearly double the space of the existing center, and be available to residents age 50+.

You’re not in this alone!

Empty nesting is amazing—except when it isn’t. I will not pretend that I did not cry every time I passed one of my kids’ rooms when they first left home. While the fun, freedom, and frivolity of this stage are great, the need to cope with and accept the transition is real.

Director of Counseling and Education Advocacy Center, Vilma E. Cea, M.A., LMFT, offers this advice:

Before the kids leave the house parents may fantasize about all they will do with their ‘new found' time and money. The reality is, as soon as the kids leave, there is grief and loneliness with parents, which is very normal. For some parents, it can turn into depression, anxiety, or loss of purpose. In those instances, it's important that the parent seek guidance from a mental health professional as soon as they, or a loved one, recognize it’s more than the 'empty nest syndrome'. Depression and anxiety can progress quickly, so if you have doubts, then it’s best to get a professional opinion sooner than later.

Every journey is unique. Let this part of yours be filled with fun, celebration, and self-discovery. Then, when your “birdies” come home to visit, they’ll find a next-stage nest, still filled with all the love they remember.

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