Years before my kids graduated from high school, a friend shared the best advice for when your children fly the coop: plan vacations that will make it impossible for them to turn down the invitation. While it may sound like an enticement, my friend's message reminded me that shared family experiences, whether they involve lost luggage, bungee jumping, or sitting on a beach, are sustaining and reaffirming, and as valuable as laughter and traditions cultivated when everyone lived under one roof. Advice from friends is a good starting point for soon-to-be empty nesters, and recognizing this has nudged me to develop my own tips for friends, parents, and families about to make the transition to an empty nest.
Not quite an empty-nester, but it's on the horizon? Still in the college-search mode? It's okay to look ahead and envision this part of the road, so you have a good plan in place.
Take back all the phone chargers in the house.
Dine with friends at places that don't involve bringing snacks and sport drinks.
Travel - in the off-season (no more staying home because of a try-out or team practice).
Sleep in - well at least until you have to get up for work.
See all Oscar Nominated films in the movie theater - before the Academy Awards.
Have as many "date nights" as you want - no babysitter required.
Throw away single socks.
Take up glass-blowing, painting, or raise chickens.
Box up awards and certificates to be held until needed or given to the rightful owner.
Do laundry as needed - it won't take all day or weekend.
Consider giving the Costco card to one of your kids.
Eat whatever you want at dinner.
Have the car detailed and dispose of anything unrecognizable.
Plan a fabulous trip for the entire family when college is out or on break.
Step away from Facebook and enjoy face-to-face time.
Create a recipe book of all your kids' favorite dishes. (If you want to give it as a gift, start well before the holidays. It will take longer than you think and may involve a box of kleenex).
Enjoy the stories of your children, friends' children, and community - everyone's journey will be unique and rich in spirit.
Visit college.u for more resources about where you might be headed and what to expect.
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