New To Being An Empty Nester?
The empty nest is too often spoken about in negative terms, but while it may be tinged with melancholy, this can be a rich and rewarding time in your life. After all, you’ve done things right as a parent, as your child is launching into an independent life of their own. It can feel strange and a little selfish to turn the focus back on yourself, and of course, you will always be a parent and always there for your child if they need you. However, it’s also a time to explore the next phase of your life and see what is out there for you.
Get Your Child Ready
There’s still plenty to do to help your kid get ready for college and while they’re in college. One of the most important things you can do is help them out by cosigning on a private student loan. These are often difficult for students to get without a cosigner since they don’t yet have a credit record, but they can be an important source of funding since they are not need-based like federal student loans. In some families, it may be appropriate to discuss parameters around cosigning for the loan, such as what your expectations are regarding repayment and how you will handle it if they can’t repay it.
You may find that this is a great time to make a career change. You could even consider a seasonal job or go back to school at the same time as your child if it doesn’t create too much of a financial burden in the family. It might be possible now to switch to a career that pays less but is more satisfying or less stressful, especially if you are happy with how your retirement savings look.
Expand Your Social Life
As your child got into high school, they probably became more independent, but you probably also spent a fair amount of time ferrying them around to various extracurricular activities. As an empty nester, you now have time to go out with friends, throw or attend dinner parties and stay out past your kid’s curfew.
Try New Hobbies
This is also an excellent time to try out new hobbies and interests. It’s a bit of a cliche that a child comes home from college to find that their room has been turned into a parent’s office or sewing room, and it’s best not to encroach on their space during this transition time. However, if you’ve always wanted to train for a marathon, take up painting or do just about anything else you couldn’t make time for between work and family obligations, now is the time.
It can be tough to feel that you’re losing the connection that you had with your child while they were living at home, and it’s important to remember that your relationship is just changing and not ending. However, this is also an opportunity to reconnect with other people in your life. If you have a partner, whether or not they are also the child’s parent, this can be a rich time of rediscovery, but you can also reconnect with old friends, including those you might have drifted away from because they did not have children of their own.