How to renegotiate your life as empty-nesters – Daily News

on Aug6
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You’ve just waved goodbye to the last of your grown kids from your front porch. They are off to a new life. You are officially an empty nester. You turn to go back inside. It’s an eerily silent household. Now what?

There are a few things that will determine your next chapter’s success.

Here are five points of wisdom for your consideration that can make all the difference.

Acknowledge the loss.

Whenever we welcome something new into our lives, this means we are generally letting go of something old to make way for it. It’s not unusual to feel lost or without direction when your kids launch. In fact, let’s admit it – it’s emotional. Go ahead and cry a bit. Journal. Call some friends and share how you are feeling.

It’s important to recognize your emotions so that you can move ahead. If not – if you gloss over your feelings and try to deny them – they will surface in strange and uncomfortable ways going forward. Closure is needed here.

Make a move forward.

You may notice that you’re not sure how to reconnect with the world at this point. Even though your kids have been in many ways independent, your focus has most likely still subconsciously been on them and their lives. This means that you may have missed pursuing your own interests and these may have changed.

Take some time to notice your interests now, and how to take steps to connect with them. Don’t be surprised if, as a veteran intellect, you suddenly turn to gardening or pottery. Or if you have always loved working with your hands, you may find that you are suddenly drawn to something intellectual – literature or other studies.

Different stages of life tap into different parts of us and something latent in you may now be awakening.

Remember who you are.

Getting back in touch with your core values and exploring new interests can help you begin creating this new chapter.

During our parenting years, we shape our focus and interests around our children’s lives. In doing so, we also omit or compromise other interests. Take some reflective time to explore values and interests, and work with someone if this is helpful.

Reconnect with significant other.

Once you reconnect with yourself, don’t neglect to do so with your partner. Who are you together, and what do you want your “together life” to look like now? What are your priorities? How will you respect each other’s needs and wants and meet your own?

Don’t be surprised if your other half’s interests vary widely from yours. Coming together to find common ground is a process. Be intentional about having meaningful discussions around these things to form a foundation for a rewarding future.

Stay connected with the kids.

Leaving this to chance can be stressful to the point of creating misunderstandings and unnecessary hurt between you and them. Instead of chasing and hoping, communication here is also essential.

Recognize and respect their desires and priorities in your conversations with them, as you also share your hope of staying connected. Talk about what time together might look like and see how you can reach an agreement adult to adult.

It’s important for you to state your needs, and also to recognize theirs, as you forge a new way of relating, once they’ve reached their independence.

As you move through this transition, create the intention to make it an enjoyable process. Stay positive, knowing that this next chapter could be your best, yet.

Patti Cotton serves as a thought partner to CEOs and their teams to help manage complexity and change.

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