16 Questions You May be Asking Now That You’re a New Empty Nester

Hey, you!

I see you over there in the grocery store snack aisle, sadly gazing at that Family Sized bag of tortilla chips. You’ve got “Rookie Empty Nester” written all over your gloomy face. There, there… It’s going to be OK. And it’s perfectly acceptable to quietly weep a little when you spot your kid’s favorite munchies.

Yes, really, it’s a normal part of the adjustment phase. Here’s a tissue. Let’s wander over to the dairy section where they’re handing out Cheddar samples and we can chat. I know you may have a whole lot of questions to ponder in this paradoxical season of parenting, especially if you’re new.

Some days you might feel a little off. On some noiseless nights you may hear voices inside your head. Wasn’t that you hollering, “Shut it! I’m trying to make a phone call” just a few weeks ago?

woman and puppy
Will our dog ever stop whining and searching for our son? (Twenty20 @milaspage)

Top New Empty Nester Questions

1. Can I do this?

The short answer is yes, you can.

2. How can I fit all these freaking cups and glasses back onto my kitchen shelves?

Right?! Who knew you owned that many, since the majority of them have been hidden under beds and buried beneath piles of clothes for years? Start a big donation bag now. Or plan a kitchen renovation.

3. Is it normal to walk into your kid’s empty bedroom several times a week to just stare at the expanse of visible carpet? Or to smooth out nonexistent wrinkles from their comforter?

Absolutely. It’s a stunning sight to behold, even if your vision is a little blurred due to some tears.

4. Will our dog ever stop whining and searching for our son?

Probably. Although purchasing a new puppy to make your pet feel better is a compassionate act and one that your spouse will likely embrace wholeheartedly.

5. Am I strange if I feel a compulsion to adorn the bathroom countertop with an empty cardboard toilet paper roll just to remind me of my kid?

No, not strange at all. Add some stickers and/or a few artificial flowers and – voila! It’s a fun little vase.

6. Is it unhealthy to have crackers and cheese for dinner a few nights a week?

Uhh, negative! In fact, I am here to give you permission to embrace what I call the Empty Nester PuPu Platter Meal. Easiest recipe ever: Find a tray. Cover it with a sprinkling of any or all of these items – crackers, cheeses, hummus, baby carrots, fruit slices, nuts, and popcorn. Add an adult beverage of your choosing. Dinner is served.

7. One minute I’m giddy with delight and the next I can’t stop crying! What do I do? 

There are hundreds of things that empty nesters do to adjust. Google it and find what works best for you. A tincture of time usually does the trick.

8. Why do I want to keep staring into my microwave whenever I open its door?

Because this is the first time in 18 years that it has remained shiny and free of sauce splashes and shredded cheese shards for more than 24 hours. Stare all you want! Send your kids Microwave Selfies. Waving, of course.

9. How will I know which Hallmark movie to watch next month based on my Christmas sweater preferences if my daughter is not here to administer the Buzzfeed quiz?

This is what FaceTime was created for. Wait for your next call. Play with your new puppy while you wait.

10. Is it horrible if I loiter in front of the paint swatches at Home Depot daydreaming about how I’m going to “re-purpose” my son’s room?

Ooohhh, no! Let me assist you. “Reflecting Pool” would be perfect for a meditation space. “Fernwood Green” looks lovely if you’re thinking craft room, and “Ripe Papaya” is definitely what’s fresh for a tiki bar. Check out Home Goods for some awesome candles.

11. Why do the weekends now drag on forever?

Because you’re not dragging your own butt out of bed at zero dark thirty to drive endless hours to a soccer tournament. Or hitting six different stores to find a Homecoming dress and coordinating shoes. Or being asked to cook dinner for 12 kids in the student government club. YOU HAVE FREE TIME! Find a new hobby. Take a road trip. Housetrain your new puppy.

12. Am I pathetic if I’m already counting down the days until Parents’ Weekend?

Of course not. You miss your kid. The house is way too quiet at times, and you just want to hug them. Plus, you kind of want to smirk in person while they complain about never having time to do laundry and how those Uber rides sure add up quickly.

13. Is it weird that I’m actually considering adopting the “Naked Sundays” rule that my husband recently suggested?

Nope. See above: Find a new hobby. Plus, even less laundry to do. Just remember to close the curtains. Or not, you naughty kids.

14. Did I really just leave the grocery store with a receipt that’s less than $100?

Yes. Incredible, right? Isn’t it fun when a dozen eggs last longer than a week? And there are not any almost-empty milk cartons in your fridge? Treat yourselves to a night out with fellow empty nesters. Order the damn dessert.

15. Will I ever stop worrying about my kid’s safety? Or if they’re making nice, new friends?

Hmmm. Honestly, not likely. But you’ll be surprised at how quickly you forget entirely about them and go back to your normal, selfish Mom-mode. Ha ha! JK as the kids say.

16. So, I really can do this?


You may also enjoy reading:

21 Things You will Love About the Empty Nest

Family Weekend: How to Plan Your Campus Trip 

About Marybeth Bock

Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing - as long as iced coffee is involved. You can find her work on numerous websites and in two books. Find her on Facebook and Instagram

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