This photo to the right is the first family photo we have had with the immediate family since the kids were all little this was Oct 2022. This however was my expectation for every holiday and I was always disappointed.
Oh, how I have learned from these disappointments. Lots of rolling of eyes, harsh words, tears, and laughter. But as I navigate this new stage in my life of being a parent to adult children. Here is what I have learned.
Parenting is never Done
Our parenting evolves to meet the needs of our adult children and ourselves. When the kids started moving out I continued to make them the priority. I tried to parent as I had always parented. What do they need, and how can I help? Well, I have learned that they don't need my help most of the time. They don't need me to fix or come to the rescue. They also don't want it. Parenting adult children just move to a mentor role. Listen, and stay out of the way. Love and cheer from the sidelines have been the best move I have made. When I try to be a coach, I get hurt and they get resentful.
It's Time to Pursue the Dreams you Once Had
When I was "waiting around" for my kids to call, or give me updates I wasted precious "me time". Remember when the kids were young and you said to yourself "when the kids get older I'll......."
Well, I had to remind myself, ALLISON... it's time for you. What do I want? What dreams do I want to pursue? How can I add those back into my life? Learning new skills is a great way to challenge yourself and discover new interests. Take a class at a local community college or adult education center. Learn a new language or take up a new hobby.
Now that your children no longer require your constant attention, you have the opportunity to focus on the things that make you happy. Take some time to reflect on your passions and interests. What activities bring you joy? What have you always wanted to try, but never had the time or resources to pursue? Once you have identified your interests, make a plan to incorporate them into your daily life.
I have reconnected with crafts, reading, long walks, and running a business. All of these have been dreams of mine. I now can add them to my life and feel like I have myself "back".
It's Time to Connect with Others
While my kids were growing up, my friendships often were with my kids' friends' parents. I built the community around me that supported my family. However, I found that we were all on different paths. Some still have kids at home, and some have professional jobs or even have moved.
I knew it was time to reconnect with friends I had that were "my friends". That takes time, and that takes effort. Reach out to those who you laugh with, who you cry with, who "get you". Find new friends that have the same hobbies and interests that you now have. Challenge yourself to find your "people". It's time to connect with others that get you, for you.
It's Time to Prioritize Your Health and Well-Being
I have always hated to exercise and I found every excuse not to do it. Yes, lots of valid excuses but still excuses. As I reached the ripe age of 50 I realized I didn't want to be like my mom. By 60 she was in bad shape, barely moving and needing knee replacements. Her health deteriorated quickly and I don't want that for myself. So I determined I needed to get more active EVERY DAY, eat better, and monitor my health. What have I found out? OMG life changing! I feel younger, healthier, more attractive, more confident, and empowered. Why did I wait so long? Our clocks are ticking.. I want a long healthy life. So I choose to prioritize my health and well being.
Reconnect with Your Partner
All of these years we have focused on our "family" needs of the kids coming first. Yes, we would have fun and go on dates but now we are working on better communication, meeting in the middle, and choosing each other first. If you are in a committed relationship, the empty nest can be an opportunity to rekindle the romance and connection with your partner. Plan date nights and weekend getaways to rediscover each other and enjoy activities that you may not have been able to do while parenting.
Finding yourself after the kids have grown can be challenging but oh-so rewarding. It's time to make yourself the priority! We have waited a long time for this moment, so don't let it pass!