Your kids are officially adults, and you're officially an empty nester. Whether you've been looking forward to this day or not, it's here. You might be asking yourself what you're going to do with your newfound freedom. Whether you are quick to rebound or slower to adapt, life without kids at home looks different. We offer hobbies for empty nesters, activity ideas, reminders about staying productive and ways to beat "empty nest syndrome" to feel fulfilled in your new normal.
Reinventing yourself after empty nest
You raised your children to be independent so they can spread their wings and thrive as they meet new adult milestones. But when they leave home, it's a milestone for you, too. Meaning it's also time for you to spread your wings. Start by reflecting on your core values and the things in your life that have made you feel fulfilled. And keep in mind that your values and passions may have shifted over time. This is your chance to try new things or get back to doing the things you love.
Activities for empty nesters
When you're looking to fill your time and stay healthy, there are plenty of activities you can do to keep all areas of your well-being on track. The Well-Being Index, developed by Gallup and Sharecare, measures five domains of individual health: physical, community, purpose, social and financial.
Improve your physical health
Consider joining a fitness class or running club, start meditating or focus on getting more sleep. Going to therapy can help you focus on the positive aspects of being an empty nester and help you cope with any other emotions you might be feeling.
Invest in community health
Volunteering and mentoring are great ways to find purpose, meet and connect with people in your area and nurture your sense of community health and well-being. If you have a green thumb, consider being part of or even starting a community garden. Community gardens can boost relationships in your neighborhood, provide access to healthy food and nurture your gardening (and people!) skills.
Find your purpose
Now is truly the time to invest in yourself and nurture skills that may have been on the back burner for the past several years. If you always loved cooking, check out cookbooks from the library and learn a few new techniques (or even take a class at your local community college or community center). If you're not sure where your purpose or passions lie, take some time for journaling or self-reflection and pursue the things that make you feel fulfilled.
Nurture your social life
Now is the time to reach out to old friends and start a book club or meet at the park. If your friends and family live far away, look into joining a club. Having a group of like-minded individuals around you might lead to new friendships. Research has even shown that socializing regularly can improve mental health and possibly lower your risk of dementia. Socializing doesn't always have to mean interacting with people. Consider adopting a new pet or volunteering at your local shelter.
Improve your financial health
Consider scheduling an appointment with a financial advisor to discuss your financial health. Also, consider downsizing and thinking about other ways you could save money. If you have a hobby such as woodworking, crafting, knitting or any other creative outlet, consider turning it in to a business.
Practice patience with yourself
This is your chance to get back to doing the things you love, whether that's returning to an old hobby, traveling or simply finding solace in quiet nights at home. During this period of adjustment, the most important thing you can do is to be kind to yourself. Embrace the emotions you're experiencing throughout this transition and know that it's all part of the parenthood journey.