Meet my Mom. She has made being an empty nester not suck. My mom is about 70 years old, I say about because she has never told me her exact age 😕 and she lives on her own. She refuses to go to a senior living retirement community (I only suggested this so she won’t feel lonely) or live with her own children including me. Her husband passed away 10 years ago and she hasn’t found another like him. She is an independent young lady that is stubborn and takes no for an answer. She has lived in her home for over 25 years and has years worth of items in her home (borderline hoarder). She is retired and lives with her 4 legged children, lives as happy as can be.
The situation above can be seen all over America. Many of us including retirees, baby boomers, and parents that have given their children a great life. The kids have grown up, they’ve moved on with careers, relationships and even family and now the house has become eerily quiet. It’s easy to feel a sense of loss, nostalgia and maybe sadness that all those years of a busy household are a thing of times past.
Downsizing used to be limited to the size of the home, but now it is the conscious effort to reduce the total cost of ownership. Therefore, the secondary meaning of downsizing nowadays is that empty nesters are having to adjust to their new retirement budget. Although my mom is not thinking of downsizing right now she realizes that one day she will have to do it but before that happens she refuses to live sucky while she is till living.
Baby boomers and empty nesters lived through a very affluent time in the U.S.’s economic growth. The ’80s and ’90s were good years to own stocks and real estate. This has created a large affluent upper-middle class allowing these people to upgrade and upsize through the latter part of their working years.
They have prepared for retirement but did not expect that they would be living into their late 70s and 80s, or longer; and this stretching of their lifelong savings is causing them to have to be more fiscally responsible to make sure they do not outlive their money.
Empty Nester Syndrome
I was curious as to what wikipedia said the definition of empty nester was and I found a phrase called Empty Nest Syndrome which is a feeling of grief and loneliness parents may feel when their children leave home for the first time, such as to live on their own or to attend a college or university.
I never knew there was such a thing. In my mom’s situation it was hard when we moved on and left the nest, she wanted to keep us there forever over time she had accumulated tons of stuff like my old dresses, toys, old report cards and even old newborn clothes. As if we were never going to grow old ourselves. It has been my observation that she has made several changes in her life since in order not make living alone suck.
One of the first things my mom did was change her mindset and instead of suffering through the thoughts of being home alone she just resigned to the fact that it is what it is. She decided to instead think about the possibilities of things that she wasn’t able to accomplish with her kids being at home. However she always reminded us that if we ever needed a place to stay we would always have one no matter how old we were. Even though secretly I wanted to just let her know that she needed to sell her home and downsize since the home was to big for her. So since she had accepted this fact and knew life was going to be different for the better she started looking into her own needs and she was super positive about it.
Looking into your own needs
Since she didn’t have the drama of dressing us for school, or dealing with our teachers or having to cook for us everyday she thought to herself what do I do now. The question was “Who am I now?” She was so use to tending to someone else that she forgot who she was and now it was her turn to find out what she likes to do such as hobbies, outdoor activities, social events etc. She discovered that she loves to just simply take her 4 legged friends out to the parks for long walks, hours at a time. It gave her peace of mind. So she thought what else can I do to make my day go by and be more enjoyable?
Things to do
- De-Clutter – my mom didn’t want to accept the fact that she was a borderline hoarder but when I explained that no one in their right mind would want to buy a home with all that stuff in it and that she wouldn’t make any money that got her wheels spinning. So instead of her dealing with the fact that she was getting rid of our stuff she created a garage sale. She got excited by the fact that she would make some extra cash and just the notion of getting all items ready to put them up for sale made her content. Why? you ask, because now she had something to do.
- New friendships – My mom isn’t the type to have thousands of friends but by her conducting the garage sale she started meeting ladies and gentlemen that were similar to her and that were also retired within her age bracket. Since she has so many things to sell she started creating several garage sales over time and ended making several new friends.
- Volunteering – Some of her new discovered friends volunteered at an animal shelter and since my mom loves animals she thought the idea of volunteering her time twice a week was great. She has so much fun their and also paring up the dogs and cats with new owners.
- Romance – My mom is no where near close to being put on match.com, or a senior citizen dating website but by her meeting new people being more social she has a date here and there. Nothing too crazy but just some male friends that she can have a date with or just socialize. It’s making her feel like she was 21 again. So it’s never to late to just date or have a great companionship with you to just go out and have fun. You are never to old.
- Rejuvenation– Since my mom is starting to date again she feels like she looks super old. Now, I might get some feedback here from YOU (the reader) but I told my mom not to feel like that it would be okay if she had a little botox here or there or even just some mud baths. All in all it’s what makes her feel good again. There are other ways to feel young and pretty again there is cosmetic surgery such as facelift, laster treatments but those might not be in the budget. Keep it simple and it will take you a long way.
- Exercise – If you feel like cosmetic surgery is not the way to go then get a personal trainer and start an exercise regiment. My mom didn’t go as far as that but she will walk with her dogs for hours upon hours she has lost over 30 lbs. just by walking. The point her is to get out enjoy the outdoors if you are in a cold climate then go to the gym, do some yoga, there are so many forms of exercise and if you don’t want to go out put on a youtube video and do it at home.
So as you can see life is not over when your babies leave the nest it’s just the beginning of a new life for you. Your children will always need you and you will always be their mommy and daddy. Begin to live a life that is fulfilling for YOU and not one else.