Free Time to Fill

After what seems like a lifetime, the constant background noise of your teen and their friends is gone, and the need for a home-grown taxi service is over. Silence is a new experience, and a little bit out of your comfort zone. The entire situation is not normal. What do you do?

This time of year, as school is back in session (at least in the northern hemisphere), families with teens heading off to college are beginning to notice the Empty Nest Syndrome. All of a sudden, the demands of parental time and attention simply disappear. It is especially apparent if all the kids are gone, and it’s just you and your spouse left looking at each other, wondering what’s next.

Well, what is next? The Empty Nest Syndrome is somewhat similar to Retirement. If you define yourself by the work you do, and then suddenly you don’t have that work anymore, you are lost. In the U.S., studies indicate that the average span of Social Security checks is 13 months, after retirement. People simply give up, because they retired from work, and didn’t retire to something else.

This same thing can happen to Empty Nesters. They knew that one day the house would be empty, but hadn’t planned on what to do next. So, to avoid becoming an Empty Lifer because of the empty nest, it’s time to decide what’s next. Ask yourselves the question, “What do we want? What do I want?”

Take the time to make lists of constructive ways to spend the “free time” you suddenly have. It could be projects around the house, but it could also be taking the time to explore subjects that you have always wanted to understand. It could be digging into that pile of books that you never really gave yourself time to read.

Give full rein to your curiosity, and if you are a couple, plan things to do together as well as on your own. It will bring richness to this new dimension of your relationship. And if you are wise, you’ll find something to do that will benefit someone in need. There is nothing more satisfying to the human soul than to be able to fill the need of another. You give and receive at the same time.