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The day you’ve waited (at least 18 long years) for is finally here! The nest is empty! You are ready to thrive in your empty nest! But suddenly you feel unsure, maybe a little lost, and probably more than a little sad.
What will you do with all of those empty hours no longer filled with checking homework, watching basketball games, and refereeing fights between siblings?
I encourage you not to fill your time with Netflix and potato chips. Even though that is tempting and okay from time to time. There’s a whole wide world out there to explore without a minivan full of car seats and granola bars in your purse. The world is out there waiting for you, choose to thrive in your empty nest years!
Reading was a joy, a desperately needed escape — I didn’t read to learn, I was reading to read.– Christian Bauman
10 Things to Do to Thrive in Your Empty Nest
- Find time for old hobbies or start new ones. Whether it’s gardening, crafting, rebuilding old cars, or volunteering at the local animal shelter, explore your talents and creativity and maybe even share them with the world.
- Nurture friendships. You may have lost touch with old friends over the years, that’s okay, they’ve been busy too. Reach out and reconnect with old friends and make a standing date for coffee or a hike on a local trail. Or maybe it’s time to make new friends. Invite a new acquaintance from your crochet club for a drink. They may be ready to thrive in their empty nest but feeling too shy to make the first move.
- Travel on your own or with your spouse. Midlife and an empty nest make it an ideal time to travel. You can spend hours wandering art museums instead of standing in line for roller coasters and restrooms. Traveling without the kids can actually feel like a vacation. Unlike those family vacations you needed another vacation to recuperate from!
- Become your best self. If self-care and time to take care of you took a backseat all those years of child-rearing, now is the time for you to be the priority. Take up exercise. Learn to cook more healthily. Revamp your wardrobe. Learn how to care for your skin as it changes with age. Meditate. Read personal development books or listen to podcasts. Taking care of yourself is important for aging well and with as few health problems as possible.
- Reinvent your relationship with your children. Now that they are grown and living adult independent lives, it’s time for a different kind of relationship. You will always be “Mom,” but you don’t always need to manage them and their relationships. Look forward to a closer relationship and more of a friendship than the younger years.
- Invest in your relationship with your husband. Hold hands when you go out together. Public displays of affection are highly encouraged. Have sex, lots of it, no matter that it looks different as you age. Pamper each other and fall in love all over again. You can thrive in your empty nest marriage and feel like two teenagers in love again if you put in the effort.
- Expand your mind. There are great books, audible books, podcasts, and talks by interesting and educated people to teach you almost anything you want to know. Make an effort to learn more about the world and the people around you.
- Go back to school. Did you not complete that bachelor’s degree in your 20s? Do you dream of a doctorate in French Literature or becoming a medical doctor? It’s never too late to go back to school and add to your education. You may not be a “traditional” student, but you have a lot to offer any college or university with your life experience.
- Get serious with your money. As you thrive in your empty nest, retirement is not too far off. In fact, you may even be currently contemplating the transition. Make sure your financial life is in order. Meet with a financial planner to make sure your savings are on target. Save more of each paycheck into your 401(k) or IRA. Consider downsizing or moving to a less expensive area of the country. Evaluate your future health, disability, and life insurance needs and make a plan.
- Make a Bucket List. It’s easy to say that you are going to do all these fun, amazing things to thrive in your empty nest. But if you really want to intentionally create a fun life, you need a plan. Sit down with your husband or on your own and make a bucket list. List out all the things you want to do, all of your empty nest years’ dreams. This isn’t meant to be a homework assignment. It’s meant to be fun! Post that list somewhere conspicuous where you will be reminded often of exactly what you want, and then go after it!
Final Thoughts on 10 Things to Do to Thrive in Your Empty Nest
Don’t put off creating a fun and adventurous empty nest life. This is your time to create the life of your dreams. Decide what areas of life you want to focus on, decide what you want the next 40 years to look like, and then do it. Let your kids see how fun and exciting getting older can be. They may even want to join you!
Read More About Things to Do to Thrive in Your Empty Nest
How to thrive with an empty nest: 30 things to do after the kids leave home
30 Things to Do Now That You’re an Empty-Nester
How are you thriving with your empty nest? Let me know in the comments below.
Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.Charles Dudley Warner
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