5 Steps from Empty Nest to Contentedness

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Have you ever woken up and wondered, “Whose life is this?” It’s been that kind of a year for me. I am the mom of four of the cutest little babies you can even imagine! Cute and cuddly, and they give the best hugs. They’re gorgeous!

Except… oh, wait! They aren’t babies anymore! Overnight, they’ve become teenagers! Fourteen, fifteen, eighteen, and twenty (next week). How did this happen? I finally mastered the art of raising toddlers and managing homework―I’m not ready for teenagers to leave home and head for college.

But that’s exactly what’s happening. Our eldest daughter, Raelynne, is currently living in Australia and attending the TV & Media Program at Hillsong College. I can’t believe she’s been gone for almost nine months already. Our oldest son, Joshua, will be graduating high school in three months’ time and moving back to Canada to live with his grandparents, get a job, and attend the Jazz & Contemporary Music Program at Grant MacEwan University. What?!

In my head, I still see them as toddlers, tucked into their spongy chairs and watching Thomas the Tank Engine. You can imagine what a shock it’s been to navigate this transition period. No one ever tells you that food will lose its flavour for three months after your child leaves home. But I suppose that even if they did try to tell me, I wouldn’t have listened. I didn’t want to hear all of the negative things people have to say about the Empty-Nest years. I don’t want to live my life as a ‘victim’ of my circumstances. Not me.

So, here is a list of the FIVE THINGS I LEARNED THIS YEAR about how to transition from feeling the “Empty-Nest” to daily living in a place of Contentedness.

FIVE THINGS I LEARNED THIS YEAR

#1 – Get a Life of your Own

Seriously, it’s time. If you’ve spent the last eighteen years waiting on your kids hand and foot, then it’s high time you did something for yourself. LEARN. EXPLORE. Revisit your Bucket List. What are some of the things you’ve always wanted to do? Do you want to go back to school, take an art class, or learn to dance? Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to travel; then do that. It doesn’t matter if it’s 50 km down the road or 5000 miles across the ocean. It’s time to dream again!

It’s high time you did something for yourself. Learn. Explore. Revisit your Bucket List. Click To Tweet

This year, I finally started my writing business. Writing, editing, blogging, freelancing, you name it. It has been like ‘gas in my tank’ when the tank was barely running on fumes. And the truly inspiring thing is… kids LOVE to see their parents succeed!

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They’ll be proud of you when you follow your passion.

#2 – Get out of your Four Walls and Get Involved

There’s nothing worse than wasting your days feeling sorry for yourself. Yuck. Stop it now.

There’s still too much LIFE in you to sit at home alone. Click To Tweet

Get out of the house and spend your energies helping people. Invest, serve, and volunteer. Ask Father where you should get involved, and then DO IT. Whether you spend your time at the local Mom & Baby Clinic or just join your church choir, I guarantee that when you lay your head on your pillow at the end of the day, you’ll feel accomplished!

#3 – Invite People INTO your Space

As an international family, this is something we’ve done regularly over the last decade, and we’ve found that it’s one of the best ways to deal with homesickness. Whenever that FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) feeling hits, inviting people over for coffee or meals helps to ease the sadness.

Loneliness is best cured by opening up your heart to others. Click To Tweet

It works every time. The bonus is that it also shows your kids that, regardless of where they are on the earth, they can always build ‘family.’

#4 – Stay in Touch

Modern technology is amazing. A hundred years ago, when someone would go overseas, family and friends wouldn’t hear from them for YEARS. It’s not like that anymore―technology is our friend. Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp… they’re all brilliant. So use them to your advantage. The time zone in Australia is such that we can call Raelynne on the ride home from school (via FaceTime Audio), and all of the kids can catch up with each other. It sometimes feels like she’s just down the block.

But there’s also a word-of-warning here―don’t smother them! Just because you CAN call them all day long doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Remember, they are busy with studies and work schedules, maturing and growing. It’s not their job to fill your love tank every day, nor do they have enough mental or emotional energy for that.

It’s not their job to fill your love tank every day. Click To Tweet

My advice = Send them regular little notes (with no agenda) reminding them that you love them and are thinking about them. And then follow their lead. Let them decide if and when they want to Skype in person. (Yes, you can beg them to call you sometimes. The struggle is real.)

#5 – Know what God is Saying

This is perhaps the most important factor in releasing your children to their destiny. I’m not just talking about career assessment stuff here. I’m talking about hearing what God says about your kids; it means having a faith-vision for their life and purpose.

When we KNOW what God has said about them and the future that He has planned for them, it is so much easier to survive their absence.

Over the years, we’ve had numerous prophetic words that have helped to form this faith-vision for each of our children. Occasionally, these prophetic words come from other people, but sometimes they come from our times alone with the Father. We must always remember that He has got FAR BETTER things planned for our children than we can even ask or imagine. He has got FAR BETTER things planned for our children than we can even ask or imagine. (Read Ephesians 3:20 again.)

I wish there was a magic pill we could take that would remove the sting of loneliness caused by our child’s absence, but there’s not. Instead, we must survive by feeding our spirits and souls with the truth of God’s Word that brings new life to our sore hearts.empty-nest-3

I leave you with Habakkuk 3:17-18 (but I’m going to quote it from the SBV―Shauna Blaak Version):  

Though there be no fingerprints on the walls
nor artwork on the fridge,

Though I cook too much food for dinner

and ache each time I pass your room,

Though each waking minute again reminds me

how much I miss you still,

YET WILL I PRAISE HIM!
I will Rejoice in God my Saviour!

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Click the image to read the full issue!

Click the image to read the full issue!

This post first appeared in the THIRTY ONE: Magazine (Issue 7, page 52), a quarterly publication from Victory Church in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa.

This fantastic magazine is a collection of personal stories from women all over the world… different languages, different cultures, different worlds.

Click here to read the whole issue!

You’re gonna ♥ it!

 

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