This Empty Nester’s Life is Put on Hold for Winter Break
The usual topic of conversation among friends who have college kids these days revolves around our kids’ adjustment to coming home after living on their own. But what about our adjustment – especially if you are an empty nester like me. Having a house full of kids again after four months of quiet will take some getting used to. I am not just talking about getting used to new sleep patterns, extra laundry, cooking dinner, or waiting up for them to come in at night. I am referring to changing my routine back to being a full time parent for a full household.
Each August when my kids leave for college I feel an emptiness at first. I am a full time stay at home mom so when they first went off to college I had to figure out what to do with all my free time. Very quickly I established a routine of my own. Part of my new routine is not having a routine that revolves around my kids. I don’t have to be home by 3pm to drive anyone to an activity, I don’t have to prepare dinner every night for the family, I don’t have to do laundry every day of the week, etc. I can go to the gym at 4 in the afternoon instead of 9 in the morning, I can eat a bowl of Cheerios for dinner, I can spend the day wandering around a museum, I can go to a movie in the afternoon if I want. My life is full and I get to decide what activities and events I will enjoy and attend. In addition, everything in the house stays in the place where I leave it and I have learned that I actually enjoy the quiet.
My kids will be home this week and although they take care of themselves at college, I know I will fall back into Mommy mode. I have already gone to the grocery store and restocked the refrigerator and pantry. I have rescheduled my gym time and told my girlfriends that lunch plans will have to wait. I know I will be waiting around for my kids to get up just so that I can grab a bite to eat with them and chat. I will wait up until they come in at night to hear about their night out, even if it is until 2am. Essentially my empty nest life is put on hold and I will be a full time mom again. I am not complaining, it is my choice, and as long as my kids keep coming home for vacation and want to hang with me, even for a little, I will make myself available to them. After all I don’t know how many more years they will be living at home. I don’t want to turn around in a few years and regret not spending the time I did have with them at home.
And so my empty nester mode will be put on hold. I will miss being able to spend quiet time in the afternoon by myself. The sound of kids in the house is definitely worth giving that up especially since I know it will fly by and before I know it they will be heading back to school for spring semester.