Parenthood can be a funny thing. It may feel like one minute you think your baby is never going to sleep through the night and the next thing you know you’re touring college campuses. When your child is moving away from home for the first time, whether it’s for school, work, to join the military or for any other reason, you may feel a mix of conflicting emotions. Even though part of your role as a parent is to prepare your child for adult life and to become independent, it can be hard to let them go. The empty nest can be a lot less difficult if you start planning for it a few years in advance.
Get Your Finances in Order
It’s a good idea to take a look at your finances, including where you are in retirement savings, because your kids will probably need some help from you even once they are out on their own. That could mean paying for college, helping with a down payment on a home, or paying for a wedding. Knowing the condition of your finances can put you in a better position to know how much help you can give without destabilizing your own security. You can also look into creative ways to help out. If you do not want your child to have to pay off student loans after college, you might want to consider taking out a low-rate Private Parent Loan and offer to pay for their education yourself.
Have a Vision
The empty nest can be a shock. Suddenly, you no longer have your child there at the dinner table every night. You may hear from them infrequently if they are particularly engaged in school or work. It’s a good idea to start thinking about what you want your life to be like once they move out a few years ahead of time. Do you want to take your home to the next level and remodel the house, take a big trip, or change your job? Maybe you want to set a new goal with the free time you have, such as completing a marathon. You may be able to take more time for hobbies or relationships that fell away when you were putting more of your energy into your children.
If you have a partner, talk to them about the big change that is ahead. One danger for some parents when their children become adults is that they find they have been so focused on raising their kids that they have little in common. Even if this the case, you can find your way back to one another and a set of shared interests, but it helps if you anticipate this and discuss it.
Maybe the empty nest doesn’t feel great, but this is a time to be proud of what you have accomplished. You have raised your child to adulthood, and they have gone out into the world equipped with everything that you have taught them. A phase of your life is over, but a new one is beginning, and of course your child will still be a part of it even if it’s in a different way now.
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