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How Do You Prepare to be an Emptynester?

Article by Fabafterfifty

You know the day is fast approaching, when you have to say your goodbyes and wave your child off as they excitedly take that next step towards independence.

But how do you feel? How should you react?

I asked Susan McNally to share her thoughts and experience. As Susan prepares for her third and youngest daughter to leave for university, Susan offers her insights on emptynesting- third time round!

It doesn’t get any easier

Susan, does it get any easier seeing your younger children leave for university?
It doesn’t get any easier. There is a realisation that the stage of your life where you are needed as a ‘hands on’ parent is coming to end. If you try to hold on to them too hard they’ll go. If you let them go and encourage their plans they’ll come back. My eldest two love their home and come back frequently to visit. You’d think I’d be used to them leaving- but each time it’s just as bad- but in a different way. The third and youngest is ‘my baby’ and has diabetes, so it is hard!

How have you coped with your children leaving home?
I try to look at the positives. My eldest daughter went to the US for her second year of studies- on the one hand she was even further away, but she was fine- it gave us a good excuse to visit the States.

I also started up my own business- it was important for me to have something to keep me occupied that I could throw myself into. It also meant that when my daughter called to talk about the exciting aspects of her new life, I could tell her about the new and positive things I was doing in my life too.

How easy was it to keep in touch with your daughters once they were at University?
My eldest daughter rang quite a bit- I made a point of not calling her too often- if she called me I knew it was because she wanted to and we could have a proper conversation- by her calling when it was convenient to her I wasn’t interrupting at all. My second daughter tended to text more.

Advice for emptynesters

What advice would you give other soon to be ‘emptynesters’?
You have to remember that your children are excited are excited at the prospect of leaving and stating their new lives at university, and you have to be excited for them. They’re not gone forever- they come back in the holidays. You can’t be clingy- you have to let them go. Don’t put pressure on them to call or visit home.

Feel excited about the life you can develop without them. This is a new adventure for you. You can visit them- it may open up new areas of the country to explore. Also start something of your own- it is time to develop something you feel passionate about.

I’ve told friends that if they see me sobbing in the supermarket to come over and give me a hug. I can feel the tears coming as I go to buy things for my daughter to take, but I don’t want her to see them. I remind myself that it’s all very exciting for her . You need them to know that you are excited for them. Enjoy listening and learning about their new lives.

Join clubs. Read more. Enjoy your home time with no pressures. Create your own adventures.

Of course they might come back- my oldest 2 are basing themselves back home – then you have the ‘Boomerang Kids’ to contend with!

Photo credit : arztsamui

Susan McNally, 53, is the mother to three daughters aged 26, 21 and 18. She has worked as a Property Consultant for over 20 years, the last 5 years being self employed. Susan prides herself on having been able to pursue a career as well as raising her family to have dreams and aspirations. She plays tennis, skis, enjoys to cook and has always loved property which is her passion.


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  1. Hiromi

    September 9, 2011

    Very timely since I’m bringing my “baby” to uni tomorrow. He is very excited, I am excited for him but still a wrench as he was home for a gap year. I did start my own business last year and there are lots of things happening there so I am glad I am not sitting home waiting for something to happen. I know I have to track him down if I want to know how he is, so thank goodness for texts.

  2. Jennifer Soodek

    October 10, 2011

    I prepared by going back to school when my oldest and middle where in high school, the youngest was in middle school. I got my second Masters Degree in Counseling. It has been 6 years since I completed the program and have now started my own business helping other empty nesters and for that matter anyone who is going through a transition, discover their next step. It is the best thing I have ever done for myself, and love the work, the writing, the thinking, and the challenge. I encourage empty nesters to take this special time in life and make it a new beginning. It is truly such an exciting time.

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  1. How to cope with the changes an Empty Nest brings | Fabafterfifty.co.uk09-06-12
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