This time of year there is absolutely no escaping the plethora of heart wrenching articles about sending your kids off to college, and while we realize that this is a stressful, and anxious time, we seasoned parents want you first-timers to know that there is much to enjoy in your empty nest.
Here are twenty-one things that experienced parents LOVE about an empty nest:
1. Go ahead and sleep with both eyes closed and without being awakened by noisy children or by the opening and closing of doors at all hours of the night (or wee hours of the morning). You may never sleep quite as soundly as you once did, but take heart, the sleep of the empty nester is a fine approximation of pre-kid sleep.
2. If your emptying nest still has a fledgling in it, you will have the opportunity to get to know them, finally.
3. The cost of a trip to the grocery store will plunge. And, no one will be peering into the heavy bags you have just schlepped home and complaining that you didn’t buy anything edible, as the scarf down food directly from the bags. You get to buy what YOU like to eat. Also, when you reach into the refrigerator for that pint of half and half for your coffee, you won’t be reaching for an empty carton.
4. You will have many fewer loads of laundry. And, those stinky socks that have been strewn about the house haphazardly for the last eighteen years, one here, one there but never a matching pair, yup–magically they’re gone.
5. The kitchen sink, once emptied of dirty dishes, will stay clean. You favorite mug stays where you put it. There will be no surprise discoveries of stockpiled cups and dishes in various bedrooms. The drinking glasses and forks that were missing, will mysteriously reappear and stay put.
6. When you decide to eat out, you get to choose the place and the time, and as an added bonus you get to eat your meal at your own leisurely pace without anyone else dipping their fork into it. And, now that you don’t have your human garbage can with you (aka your perpetually ravenous child) when the check arrives you need not go into sticker shock.
7. On those days when you want to forgo cooking, you can eat a yogurt and a piece of fruit for dinner, without worrying about being a bad influence or about needing to feed others. If you prefer to cook a fancy meal just for yourself; another wonderful alternative. And, no more cooking meals only to hear, “Mom, I don’t want that.”
8. Your utility bills are going down. And, your tank will now hold enough hot water for you to take a long, hot, steamy shower and you will no longer need to run the dishwasher multiple times a day.
9. You now have the time to take those long evening strolls that you enjoyed before kids.
10. When you go out to your car–it will be there because you are the only one driving it and the gas tank will be full because you filled it. The cost of car insurance may also go down if your kids are away at school without a car.
11. When you clean the house it will remain clean. When you enter the house you will not trip on an accumulated pile of shoes. There will be an abundant supply of clean towels instead of piles of wet ones lying on top of someone’s bed or carpet.
12. There will be practically no one to give you attitude or to roll their eyes at what you say and you will not be subject to someone else’s moodiness or flair for the dramatic.
13. There was only one full can of garbage and one of recycling to put out on collection day, but sadly, you’ll be the one bringing it to the curb.
14. There will be no skirmishes to break up between siblings. And, no more listening to constant bickering.
15. If you turn off the TV, it will remain off rather than tuned to an endless loop of ESPN. The remote belongs to you now. And, no one is sucking up your Wi-Fi bandwidth.
16. Your favorite shampoo will be in your shower just where you left it. Same with your clothes, and makeup and phone chargers.
17. No need to drive anyone anyplace and no open school nights, parent/teacher conferences, student plays, high school sporting events, band concerts or music/dance recitals.
18. No need to nag anyone to do their chores or their homework only to find out several hours later that the task hasn’t been done, or actually hasn’t even been started.
19. Remember when you wondered why no one vacationed during Labor Day week when rates were cheaper and the weather was better? Well, no more wondering, you can go away whenever you want, taking advantage of lower rates and emptier hotels.
20. If you want to go to happy hour or the movies or dinner with friends on a weeknight, you can. If not, the house will be quiet, so that for the first time in a long time you will be able hear yourself think.
21. You may now have sex anywhere, anytime and anyplace. And even though you are no longer twenty-five, this new freedom will be intoxicating. Spontaneity is the buzzword of the empty nester and (cover your ears children) nudity is the new pajama. As an added treat, “date night” can be any night or every night and you may even find that you and your significant other are back to conversing in full sentences about things other than what your children did that day.
But, what parents love most about their empty nest has nothing to do with themselves, and everything to do with their kids. Seeing them mature and appreciate the home they grew up in and the parents who raised them is heartening, as is hearing about all their new experiences. Watching as they begin to form mature, adult bonds with their siblings is one of the most satisfying aspects of parenting.
So parents, pat yourself on the back for a job well done, air out your child’s room and ENJOY some YOU time because you’ve earned it and they’ll be back before you know it.