Lessons Of The Empty Nest

Both of my kids are off at college for the first time.  It means there’s a lot more quiet, and a lot less laundry at home. That sounds great, but it’s an adjustment to a different sort of lifestyle, and I know it’s going to take a bit of time to find a new normal. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned so far:

  1. You need even fewer groceries than you think. I’ve been shopping for the appetite of teen boys, so I am used to milk, eggs and bread flying out of here in a few days.  I need much less fruit than I think, which is causing me to have more smoothies than I thought possible, in order to avoid wasting it.
  2. The quiet is awesome, but it’s also loud.  I remember wanting to have a little quiet to just think- but now, the quiet is almost lonely, especially at night. Being home alone without anything that has to get done seems like a dream for moms in a busy household, but the sudden silence can seem empty. The antidote to this will be found in friends and projects- and of course, the endless need to entertain the dog.
  3. Timing is different. Having uninterrupted time to get projects done is terrific, but there are fewer “timed stops” in the day, like when the kids would come home from school, signaling time to start getting dinner ready, etc. Now when my husband is late, it’s no longer about eating dinner in two shifts, but potentially either cooking later or putting things away and letting him heat things up when he comes home.  We will need to find a new pattern that works- I suspect there will be more soups and stews that are easily reheated in our future.
  4. There’s no real backup. Over the past few years, my kids have taken on more of the household responsibilities, from running grocery errands, to taking out the trash. When no one is home but me, it’s on me to take care of it.  There’s less to do, but no one to share the responsibility.  With a recent bout of bronchitis, being home alone seemed lonely and even a little scary after a particularly bad coughing fit.
  5. It’s made me more sensitive to people living alone. My husband has had a couple of business trips lately, so I have really been home alone, with no one else other than the pets to worry about. Time seems to stretch in ways it did not with so much more activity in the house. Developing a schedule and a list of things to accomplish will hopefully structure this time,especially on weekends, so it doesn’t seem so daunting. I know I’ll get used to this, but it makes me sensitive to what it’s got to be like when you live 100% alone.

I’m so glad I have my day job as well as my job as an elected official.  Keeping busy is what I have been doing for so long, I don’t really remember very well what it was like to have nothing to do. And surprisingly, it’s a bigger adjustment than I thought it was going to be.

I’ll find a new groove, but this is a time of flux, and it’s a little weird.  If you see me roaming the park with the dog more often than before, you’ll know why!

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