It can be quite difficult for parents to adjust to a new home and family dynamic after all their kids have moved out. You may start to feel anxious, down or restless, but it's important to realize that along with this big change come many possibilities. Rather than an end, this time in your life should be a wonderful new beginning.
Take this time to reconnect with yourself as well as others. Pick an old hobby back up or explore something new that you've always meant to try. Make time to do the things you want to do without any disruption, and go the places you want to go without having to worry about others. Having an empty nest isn't a bad thing; it simply means that it's time for you to spread your wings too.
Reconnect with old friends
It can be hard to stay in touch when life gets in the way, but now that you don't have a full household to run, take the time to reach out to friends you may have lost touch with or don't see or speak with as much anymore. You may even find that some of them are in a similar situation.
Make new friends
Brush up on your small talk skills, and put yourself out there when in a situation with new people. Whether it's a dinner party, at work, among friends or even just out and about, make the effort to connect with someone new.
Improve your cooking skills
Even if you're already a fantastic cook, there's always room for growth. Try out some new recipes, different ingredients, or a technique you've never done before to make your food taste more like something you'd find at a restaurant.
Take up baking
Whether you're a pro ready to impress others with your delicious desserts or an amateur looking to learn some new baking hacks, baking can be a relaxing endeavor and a way to bring some sweetness into your life. It's more of a science than cooking, but you can also channel your creative side when experimenting with flavors or trying your hand at decorations.
Get in touch with nature with a camping trip at a nearby national park. If you're not sure you can rough it like an experienced camper, glam it up with a stay at a glamping resort.
Redecorate your home
Having your home all to yourself doesn't have to be a bad thing at all. After checking that it's alright with your children, and letting them store away or take any things they may want from your home, reclaim all your space by giving your home a makeover and adding your own touch to every room.
Go to therapy
This can be a hard transition in your life, and it's never a bad idea to consult with a mental health professional, even if you don't think you have any specific mental health issues. Now is also a great time to address any lingering issues you've had in your past that you weren't able to get support for.
Adopt a pet
Your home doesn't have to stay empty. Adopting a "fur child" (or one with scales, feathers or whatever you prefer) will provide you with companionship (and cuteness), as well as keep you busy with their care.
Read more books
Try to catch up on the latest best-sellers or read all the classics you never got around to. Reading is a great way to keep your mind sharp and prevent various forms of brain degeneration, such as Alzheimer's. If you find it a bit difficult to do, try reading for 20 minutes every day. You may be surprised at the results.
Take the time to get out some of your own writing. Whether that's working on a novel, some short stories, or even poetry, writing can be a fantastic way to express your thoughts, emotions and creativity.
Learn a new language
Learning a new language is a great way to exercise your mind, as well as open up your world. Not only will you be able to speak with more people, but you'll also get to open yourself up to more literature, TV shows and film, as well as words that we just don't have in the English language.
Take a cruise vacation
Whether you're setting sail for the first time or are a cruise veteran, a cruise vacation never gets old. Explore destinations around the world - often multiple within one trip - and relax on a huge ship with impressive amenities and delicious food and drink.
Journaling is a great way to get yourself to reflect on your thoughts, your current situation and even your life. Write down as little as one sentence per day, and you'll definitely see the benefits, such as feeling less anxious or even being able to sleep better.
Binge a new TV show
We're living in a golden era of television, thanks to all the streaming services out there. There are multiple amazing shows out there of every genre. Catch up on shows you've fallen behind on or been meaning to watch, or explore new kinds of television entirely.
Take some classes
It's never too late to learn something new. Go back to school or just take a course or two in something you've always wanted to study. You can also take formal lessons in the arts, such as drawing or dancing, or go for something more physical like swimming or archery.
Now that you have the space, and a bit more time perhaps, see if you can get around to reorganizing your home and state of affairs. Marie Kondo your kitchen, your bedrooms, bathrooms, living room and garage. Declutter the house, reorganize your documents, and make sure you have everything you need in order to make your day-to-day life easier.
Meet with a financial advisor
The most important thing you need to do to get your affairs in order is to make sure you're on the right track financially. A financial advisor can help guide you with savings, budgeting and retirement plans.
Join a club or organization
Find a club or organization that caters to one of your passions or interests, such as a book club, bowling team, political organization or even a country club. Not only is it a great way to keep busy in a manner that's fulfilling to you, but it's also the perfect opportunity to make new friends.
If you're single, now is a fantastic chance to put yourself out there. If you're married or in a long-term relationship, now is the best time to reconnect with your significant other now that all the children are out of the house. Go to your favorite date spot or discover something new together, such as a trendy restaurant or a mini-golf course.
Keep in touch with family
You'll of course be making the effort to stay in touch with your kids, but don't forget about the rest of your family too. Try to focus a bit more time on your relationships with your own parents and siblings, and even aunts, uncles and cousins, particularly those you may not have had time for in recent years.
Check off your travel bucket list
Whether you're traveling solo or as a couple, you now have a lot of time, and hopefully money, to try to check off as many places on your travel bucket list as you can. Not only is traveling without the kids a great way to save money, but it's also a really good way to take time for yourself or reconnect with your spouse or significant other.
Try new cuisines
Traveling is also a great time to try out different kinds of cuisines from around the world, and you can find some amazingly inexpensive and delicious food on the streets of almost any major city. You can also get adventurous closer to home, by seeking out a restaurant with a menu that's totally new to you.
Learn a craft
Work with your hands, and learn a new skill that's useful and/or creative. Try your hand at something like painting, knitting or woodworking. Not only is it a wonderful way to pass the time, but it will also help keep both your mind and your hands in working shape.
Volunteering can be, and often is, more fulfilling than paid employment - one study even showed that people who volunteer feel happier, self-confident and purposeful. Good for both body and mind, it's also yet another great way to meet and connect with other people.
Tend to a garden
Another way to keep in touch with your nurturing side after your kids have left home is to channel it into a lovely garden. In addition to beautiful and fragrant flowers that will liven up your home, you can also grow some fresh vegetables or herbs to liven up your kitchen and the dinner table.
Meditation is a wonderful way to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Try to meditate for at least a few minutes a day, and you'll find the impact on your life to be surprising. If you don't think meditation is for you, you can start with different ways of mindfulness that will help you feel more relaxed and calm.
Take up a new physical activity
Exercise changes once you're over 50, but it's definitely something you should still consider engaging in. Take up yoga, start hiking or learn a new sport such as tennis or boxing, and you'll find it benefits both your mind and body in a plethora of ways.
Learn a musical instrument
Playing a musical instrument is another way of keeping your mind sharp, as well as dexterity in your hands. It's also a fun way to channel your creative energy, and can even turn into a relaxing hobby.
Get more sleep
A lot of problems can arise if you're not getting enough sleep, and now is the time to catch up on all those hours lost over the years. Make sure you're well rested, as you want this time in your life to be one of enjoyment and relaxation.
Go on a road trip
Domestic destinations can be just as fun to explore, and what better way to do so than with a road trip? Going by car makes it easier for you to stop when you need to, as well as admire a region's natural beauty as you travel. You'll also be able to easily make multiple stops, making sure you visit all the destinations on your list.
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