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Empty Nest Prep 101
Let’s face it, ladies: none of us can predict the future.
And before you nickname me “Captain Obvious”, let me explain why that observation bears repeating. (And why you may want to repeat that thought to yourself yet a few more times…)
If you really give it some thought, don’t we act that way? I mean, don’t we live as though we believe that we can predict the future?
With so many productivity tools and planners and personal scheduling systems, we’re often told we can prepare a 5-year plan, play it out in our minds, and make it happen!
Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t plan. I do believe we should have some sort of idea of where we’re headed in our days. It’s always helpful to have, at the least:
- daily calendars or to-do lists, with appointments penciled-in, and
- chores and community responsibilities scheduled
But there comes a point where we get so mired down into the day-to-day-ness of our lives and schedules that we don’t look up from our calendars. We don’t spend the time to daydream and vision cast because we’re way too busy in the here-and-now.
That happened to me – but it doesn’t have to happen to you!
But why do I need to plan anything?
I was a productivity queen. Over the years of homeschooling our five kiddos, I taught co-ops and tutored other students, led various children’s Sunday School classes, volunteered at nursing homes, served on the Board for a local volunteer organization, helped my husband with his business, dabbled in various party-type businesses on my own, did all the “high school stuff” necessary for four of our teens (including preparing for homeschool graduation ceremonies), and more. Oh, yeah, and I managed somehow to run our home, too.
All that isn’t to brag, but simply to show you how caught up in the present I was. And because of that, I had no plan in place for the upcoming transition…
So when the time came, I wasn’t ready, I mean personally ready, for my kiddos to fly the coop.
3 Important Empty Nest Mindsets
Now, this is not a contest to see how fast you can come up with a specific plan for your empty nest years. The winner is anyone who crafts a vision for this new season…and you don’t even have to share your work! (Of course, it is a good idea to have someone who knows you well, and whom you love and trust, bounce ideas around with you…)
But it’s so important to have the right mindset. So, here are a few attitudes you may want to adopt in the process.
This project isn’t a chore. This is a privilege I get to do to prepare myself for the future.
This will be a time of exciting self-discovery. I will get to explore gifts and talents I may not even know I have and have a say in a new phase of my journey.
I am setting an example for my own kiddos. They get to see what “adulting” looks like in yet another form. They get to see their mom pouring into herself, and in so doing, will be inspired and encouraged to maintain their own lifestyle of learning.
3 Questions to Explore When Preparing for the Empty Nest
Questions 1: What’s your identity?
You know when men are at a party or social function and one of the first things they ask each other is “So, what do you do?” Men (yes, I know I’m sounding a tad sexist here) often identify with their jobs.
Well, sometimes it can be the same way for moms.
Internally, our major roles in life quickly morph from what we do to who we are. And the more firmly-entrenched that identification is, the greater the potential for a personal identity crises when our kids leave home for the last time. Although we will always be “moms”, we are so much more than that, as well.
Remember: God isn’t finished with you yet!
Question 2: Where do I get my value/worth/significance?
Do you find your identity in being a mom? Do you equate your value or worth solely based on that role? While that is undoubtedly an important responsibility, truly a gift from God, your significance stems from much, much more, my friend; from roots that are far deeper than what you will ever do in your life.
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you… Luke 12:28
Question 3: Who are my “peeps”?
As young parents, many of us find a welcome community among families with children the same age as ours. Whether we meet them at local sports events, Church, volunteer activities, or the library, it’s easy to create a network of friends that can support you in your parenting efforts. Unfortunately, when the last one leaves the nest, it’s a little disconcerting how quickly that network might evaporate. So if you still have a few years while the kids are home, let me encourage you to grow connections and friendships on various levels. Go to the gym, form a book or movie club, or a crafting circle, or a Bible study with some other moms so you have alternate avenues to explore. In other words, work to develop friendships which will stick with you in and out of season.
At the end of the day, our true significance – no matter what roles we’ll play in life – lies in our relationship with the Lord. And the only way we can tap into that is by digging into the Word. Whether you’re struggling with finding the time or finding a format that you can plug into, check out “Momma Needs the Word” Bible study challenge. You’ll explore 12 different methods for digging in… When you discover what works for you, you may also discover you will find the time 😉
How do you think you’ll need to prepare for your empty nest? Leave a thought or two in the comments… We’d love to hear from you!
After almost 25 years of home-educating her five children, Pat Fenner is making the most of her “retired homeschool mom” status. She encourages and inspires others as they continue the journey through the high school years at her blog BreakthroughHomeschooling, and helps moms find meaning and purpose in the “post-homeschooling” stage of life.