105 Best Empty-Nesting Quotes to Inspire You!

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Transitioning to an empty-nester isn’t always easy. You’ll need to reinvent yourself a little after the children have moved out, and even as you let go of your changing role, you’ll always be a parent. So, rather than feeling sad (which is natural), read through these great empty-nesting quotes.

As an empty-nester, you can look forward to more time to take care of yourself, plan road trips, and take romantic getaways. You might even decide to take a long-stay vacation as a winter “snowbird” or leave the country altogether and become an “expat”. The most important thing to adjust is your mindset.

Change is uncomfortable,” says relationship coach, Laura Doyle. She explains that it’s totally normal to feel both triumphant about “having successfully launched your mini me’s, but weepy about letting go.” It’s a big adjustment and an empty nest can leave a hole in your chest. Especially if your job for the last two decades has been taking care of your kids. Laura recommends you tune into what brings you joy and make it a priority to include those things in your new life.

If you’re stuck, these empty-nest sayings will help you come to terms with your feelings, and possibly even inspire you to embrace this new phase of life. Because, who knows? You may discover as I have, the best is yet to come!

Editor’s Note: This article was updated in September of 2023 to keep the content fresh!

25 Empty-Nesting Quotes That Will Inspire You. Middle-age, athletic couple running on beach.
Discover 105 best empty-nesting quotes below (plus empty-nest advice at the end).

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CONTENTS – In this article, you will find several types of empty-nesting quotes, including:

Empty-Nesting Quotes About Reinventing Yourself

1. “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”. 

—Albert Einstein

2. “You Are Never Too Old To Set Another Goal Or To Dream A New Dream” 

—C.S Lewis

3. “Be open to what comes next for you. You may be heading in one direction and then life brings you another that might be a good thing.” 

—Natalie Cane

4. “When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” 

Wayne Dyer

5. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

—Mark Twain

6. “Whatever you do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it”

—Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

7. “The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different….” 

—Carl Jung

Empty-Nesting Quotes About Letting Go

8. “Letting go helps us to to live in a more peaceful state of mind and helps restore our balance. It allows others to be responsible for themselves and for us to take our hands off situations that do not belong to us. This frees us from unnecessary stress”. 

—Melody Beattie

9. “Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” 

—Ann Landers

10. “Sometimes love means letting go when you want to hold on tighter.” 

—Melissa Marr

11. “You will never achieve what you are capable of if you are too attached to the things you need to let go of.” 

—Unknown

12. “Letting go does not mean not caring about things. It means caring about them in a flexible and wise way.” 

—Jack Kornfield

13. “To raise a child who is comfortable enough to leave you means you’ve done your job. They are not ours to keep, but to teach how to soar on their own. 

—Author Unknown

Funny Empty Nest Quotes

14. “Adolescence is perhaps nature’s way of preparing parents to welcome the empty nest.” 

—Karen Savage and Patricia Adams

15. “When mothers talk about the depression of the empty nest, they’re not mourning the passing of all those wet towels on the floor, or the music that numbs your teeth, or even the bottle of capless shampoo dribbling down the shower drain. They’re upset because they’ve gone from supervisor of a child’s life to a spectator. It’s like being the vice president of the United States.” 

—Erma Bombeck

16. “You see much more of your children after they leave home.” 

—Lucille Ball

Quotes About Parenting As An Empty Nester / Child Leaving the Nest Quotes

17. “Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back and reasons to stay.” 

—The Dalai Lama

18. “A wise parent humors the desire for independent action, so as to become the friend and advisor when his absolute rule shall cease.” 

—Elizabeth Gaskell

19. “I wish I could freeze time or go back in time and watch my kids grow up all over again because it is just going by too fast.” 

—Robert Rodriquez

20. “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.” 

—Ann Landers

21. “A wise parent humors the desire for independent action, so as to become the friend and advisor when his absolute rule shall cease.” 

—Elizabeth Gaskell

22. “The ‘empty nest’ comes quickly. Do not squander your most previous privilege of participating in the lives of your children.” 

—Unknown

Positive Quotes for Empty Nesters

23. “Your child’s life will be filled with fresh experiences. It’s good if yours is as well.” 

—Dr. Margaret Rutherford

24. “The biggest change for me as a mom was realizing I needed to put someone else before me. Now the hardest part about the empty nest is learning to put myself first.”

—Kim Alexis

25. “It’s not only children who grow. Parents do, too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.” 

—Joyce Maynard

26. “If you see your kids moving on as you are missing something, you will experience this phase in a state of lack. If you see your kids moving on as an accomplishment, you will be joyful to experience this phase.”

—Anonymous

Quotes About the Empty-Nesting Mom

27. “Behind every great kid is a mom who’s pretty sure she’s screwing it up.”

—Anonymous

28. “The art of mothering is to teach the art of living.”

Elaine Hefner

29. “If you’ve never been hated by your child, you’ve never been a parent.”

Bette Davis

30. “A mother is one to whom you hurry when you are troubled.”

Emily Dickenson

31. “To all mothers in every circumstance, including those who struggle, I say, ‘Be peaceful. Believe in God and yourself. You are doing better than you think you are.”

Jeffrey R. Holland

32. “Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.”

Linda Wooten

33. “A mother knows what her child’s gone through, even if she didn’t see it herself.”

Pramoedya Ananta Toer

34. “Motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing”

—Rikki Lake

35. “Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.”

Anonymous

36. “I remember my mother’s prayers, and they have always followed me.”

—Abraham Lincoln

37. “It doesn’t matter how old you are or what you do in your life. You never stop needing your mom.”

—Kate Winslet

Parenting Quotes About the Empty Nest

38. “Picture Man: Only after a parent has let go of their child will the parent truly be an adult. Living creatures leave their nest when ready. But the ones sending them off still anxiously and unnecessarily spread out their hands to catch them.”

—Unknown

39. “Our children’s independence is a reminder of how much we had to give and all that we have accomplished. It is a pleasure to remember that it is not a form of abandonment but an expression of a job well done.”

—Unknown

40. “Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.”

—H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

41. “I, on the other hand, have always wanted hardship for my kids. Real, honest hardship. Challenges big enough to make them empathetic and wise.”

Sally Hepworth, The Mother-in-Law

42. “I think that the best thing we can do for our children is to allow them to do things for themselves, allow them to be strong, allow them to experience life on their own terms.”

C. Joybell C.

43. “A wise parent humors the desire for independent action, so as to become the friend and advisor when his absolute rule shall cease.”

Elizabeth Gaskel, North and South

44. “As our daughter leaves the nest, we’re filled with a strange mix of sadness, pride, and gratitude for everything she’s taught us.”

―Unknown

45. “Our job as parents is to teach our kids not to need us. And it hurts, but when you see them as accomplished, confident, kind, thoughtful responsible people, then you know you’ve done your job.”

Barack Obama

Quotes About Grown Children and the Empty Nest

46. “The best way to keep children at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant, and let the air out of the tires.”

Dorothy Parker

47. “I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want, and then advise them to do it.”

Harry Truman

48. “Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. My we raise them.”

Anonymous

49. “It hurts to let her baby go down the aisle / She walks right by /Looks back into her mother’s eyes / And that smile lets her know / She’s somebody’s hero”

Jamie O’Neal

50. “You are a Miracle. And I have to love you this fiercely: So that you can feel it even after you leave for school, or even while you are asleep, or even after your childhood becomes a memory. You’ll forget all this when you grow up. But it’s okay. Being a mother means having your heart broken. And it means loving and losing and falling apart and coming back together.”

—Katherine Center

51. “Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What’s that supposed to mean? In my heart, it don’t mean a thing.”

—Toni Morrison

Daughters Leaving the Nest Quotes

52. “Mothers and daughters are closest when daughters become mothers.”

—Anonymous

53. “Watching my daughter leave the nest is like watching her take her first steps – bittersweet but necessary for growth.”

—Unknown

54. “It’s hard to let go, but seeing my daughter fly away and create her own life fills me with pride and joy.”

—Unknown

55. “It’s funny, what the younger generation assumes we don’t know. They assume we couldn’t possibly understand the agony of heartbreak, or the pressure of buying a house. We couldn’t understand infertility or depression or the fight for equality. If we have experienced any of these things, they were milder, softer versions, played out in sepia, not experiences that could compare to theirs. You have no idea what I know, I want to tell her. Instead I open my arms and let her lie against my shoulder and cry.”

Sally Hepworth, The Mother-in-Law

56. “Having a daughter leave the nest feels like the closing of a chapter, but it also opens up a brand new one full of possibilities.”

—Unknown

57. “Nothing you do for your children is ever wasted.”

Garrison Keillor

58. “There are two gifts we can give our children. One is roots and the other is wings.”

Anonymous

59. “A Mother’s Job is to teach her children not to need her anymore. The hardest part of that job is accepting success.”

Anonymous

60. “When she left home, innocence whispered goodbye as she walked away.”

—Unknown

61. “I think the hardest thing for a mother is to make it possible for a child to be independent and at the same time let the child know how much you love her, how much you want to take care of her, and yet how truly essential it is for her to fly on her own.”

Madeleine Albright

Empty Nest Quotes About Mothers and Sons

62. “She stopped herself. He wasn’t a boy. A time comes in the life of a mother and son when that kind of mothering crosses the line into critical behavior. At age thirty he could eat and talk in any way he saw fit.”

Catherine Ryan Hyde, Heaven Adjacent

63. “The mother-child relationship is paradoxical and, in a sense, tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother’s side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother, and to become fully independent.”

Erich Fromm

64. “…it’s hard—looking ahead, seeing their mistakes coming, and then, unless they are in actual mortal danger, holding their hands as they make them anyway.”

Kelly Harms, The Overdue Life of Amy Byler

Motherhood Quotes | The Empty Nest

65. “Making the decision to have a child–it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

Ellen Cantarow

66. “The biggest change for me as a mom was realizing I needed to put someone else before me. Now the hardest part about the empty nest is learning to put myself first. I know that I have raised my sons to be big, strong, independent men who love God, themselves and care for others. I have to learn to let them have space and learn without me.”

Kim Alexis

67. “Raising your child well is hard. But learning to let them go out into the world and prove that you did your job right is even tougher.”

—J. Craine

68. “Home is where somebody notices when you are no longer there.”

—Aleksandar Hemon

69. “To be the mother of a grown-up child means that you don’t have a child anymore, and that is sad. When the grown-up child leaves home, that is sadder.”

—Wendell Berry

70. “As a parent, you quickly realize that life is one long series of letting go: watching your kid crawl, then walk, then run, and then drive away.”

—Deborah Mitchell

71. “I used to wish for each day to go by so fast. For you to be older, more independent, and able to take care of yourself. Now that moment has come and all I want is to go back and start over.”

—Lauren Tingley

72. “The fingerprints on the wall appear higher and higher. Then suddenly they disappear.”

—Dorothy

73.  “There are two times when parenting is the most difficult. When the baby first arrives at home, and when the adult first leaves home.”

—Jennifer Quinn

74. “In letting your child go, you are letting them grow.”

—Unknown

75. “Being a good parent requires knowing when to push and when to back off, when to help and when to let them make mistakes and then being strong enough to watch them go.”

—Unknown

Fathers and The Empty Nest

76. “Contrary to all we hear about women and their empty-nest problem, it may be fathers more often than mothers who are pained by the children’s imminent or actual departure–fathers who want to hold back the clock, to keep the children in the home for just a little longer. Repeatedly women compare their own relief to their husband’s distress.”

—Lillian B. Rubin

77. “In my daughter’s eyes I am a hero / I am strong and wise and I know no fear / but the truth is plain to see / she was sent to rescue me”

Martina McBride

More Empty-Nesting Quotes

78. “Letting go does not mean abandoning your child. It means allowing your child to learn responsibility and to feel capable.”

—Unknown

79. “There comes a time in a parent’s life when you need to let go of your child’s hands and hope to God they have learned the lessons we as parents have taught them!”

—Unknown

80. “It takes a lot more courage to let something go than it does to hang on to it, trying to make it better. Letting go doesn’t mean ignoring a situation. Letting go means accepting what is, exactly as it is, without fear, resistance, or a struggle for control.”

–Iyanla Vanzant

81. “Every time you think that letting go of your children once they grow up is hard, look at the trees…. They have been letting go of their leaves for ages. Leaves which once were part of them, but will neither be that from then on nor will get back to being a part of them like before. Ever again….”

—Diti Swain

More Empty-Nest Humor

82. “Hey, empty nest parents, if you want your kid to call you, just change your Netflix password.”

—Unknown

83. “EMPTY NESTER: When the kids move out, and the whole house is my naked room.” 

—Unknown

84. “If only I had more laundry to do,’ said no empty nester mother ever.”

—Unknown

85. “If the nest is truly empty, who owns all this junk?”

—Erma Bombeck

86. “It’s not an empty nest until they get their stuff out of the basement.”

—Unknown

87. “Empty nest syndrome?  There’s a nap for that.”

—Anonymous

Hard Empty-Nesting Feelings

88. “How then can we account for the persistence of the myth that inside the empty nest lives a shattered and depressed shell of a woman–a woman in constant pain because her children no longer live under her roof? Is it possible that a notion so pervasive is, in fact, just a myth?”

—Lillian B. Rubin

89. “…I would have let him go one finger at a time, until, without his realizing, he’d be floating without me.  And then I thought, perhaps that is what it means to be a parent — to teach your child to live without you.”

—Nicole Krauss

90. “To come to the door and know that she would find no one: to see a house completely empty. It was like coming to her tomb while she was still alive.”

―Iain Crichton Smith, Consider the Lilies

91. “A sacred wandering is a wilderness journey. You can find yourself in the midst of life transitions. Major upheavals. A career change. Soul searching. Infertility. Relocation. Illness. Depression. Divorce. Loss of a loved one. Unemployment. Returning to school. The empty nest.”

―Dana Arcuri, Sacred Wandering: Growing Your Faith In The Dark

92.  “All my heavy-chested sadness, loss and longing to hold on to things as they used to be are back, sweeping over me as they did when I was a child.”

—Rob Lowe

93. “How strange is the force of imagination! it represents things as if they were actually present to us; we consider them so, and to a heart like mine, this is death. I know not where to hide myself from you.”

―Marie Rabutin-Chantal De Sevigne, The Letters of Madame De Sevigne to Her Daughter and Friends

94. “People make a lot of jokes about the empty nest. Let me tell you, it is no laughing matter. It is really hard.”

Michelle Pfeiffer

95. “There are two times when parenting is the most difficult. When the baby first arrives at home, and when the adult first leaves home.”

Jennifer Quinn

96. “Think of your woods and orchards without birds! Of empty nests that cling to boughs and beams / As in an idiot’s brain remembered words / Hang empty ‘mid the cobwebs of his dreams!”

—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

97. “I diagnosed my loneliness as premature empty nest syndrome.”

—Kristen Schaal

98. “Empty nest is not just about the loud quiet. It’s about being at the center of your own life where your kids used to be. You’ll be encouraged to embrace your freedom, go back to school, volunteer, but come first again is not as easy as it sounds. It feels like wearing shoes on the wrong feet.” 

—Susan Bonifant

99. “To think about letting my children go is like an arrow to the soul. I know it must happen, but the pain makes it hard to breathe.”

—Unknown

Words of Comfort When a Child Leaves Home (Inspirational Outlooks)

100.“You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream.”

—C.S. Lewis

101. “Letting go of our children is the most sacrificial way we can love them. Make no mistake, to hold on too tight and too long clips their wings and makes it harder for them to fly. To soar.”

—Robin Dance

102. “I was learning to map my own course and determine my own destination now that my children were no longer at home. A fire burned within my soul, igniting possibilities I had previously only dreamed of for myself. I was choosing to feather my empty nest with leather and chrome, not a second-hand lover.⁣”

—Debi Tolbert Duggar⁣

103. “She was both sad and happy for her children to leave home. Part of what she had always wanted to do seemed now to be already done, but now she could sit back and see the fruits of her labor.”

—Unknown

104. “When my children left home, I thought my efforts at building a home had been a failure. Now, my grandchildren have shown me just what a success I really am.”

—Unknown

105. “The empty nest is underrated.”

—Nora Ephron

Final Thoughts on Empty-Nesting Quotes

As an empty-nester myself, I realize how difficult this transition can be—for some parents, more than others. You can experience feelings of sadness and loss of purpose in this new chapter. 

But there’s another way to look at things.

Now, you can go out on a care-free Saturday night, enjoy more free time, and have a quiet house for the first time in a long time. The good news is, since you’re no longer a full-time mom, this gives you extra time to focus on new routines, get a new job, or even plan an early retirement.

When was the last time you were able to sit in front of the TV in your living room, in an empty house– without interruption?

Empty-nesting doesn’t happen over night. It’s a series of natural changes that may even lead you to resurrect some of the interests you may have had as a younger woman or younger man. And that’s a partial cure for what ails you.  

And of course, you’ll want to start creating a travel bucket list, with or without your young adults in tow. (;

The empty-nesting phase of life a great opportunity to take pause, and maybe even compile a photo album for your adult children to look back upon with you someday. Remember these empty nesting quotes when you need creative inspiration! In fact, you could even create custom stickers to remind yourself to have a young heart and an optimistic attitude. 

That way, you’ll have the right outlook to meet every challenge as an empty-nester.

So, consider the wisdom of these authors and best quotes about empty-nesting. With any luck, you’ll be inspired to begin living your best life!

If you like inspirational quotes, you may want to have a look at these quotes, too:

Which of these empty nest syndrome quotes resonate with you? Did we miss a quote that you think belongs on this list of empty-nesting quotes? Please let us know in the comments below!


Jackie Gately at the beach


About the Author: Jackie Gately

I'm Jackie Gately, your travel confidante and the creative force behind Enjoy Travel Life, awarded the "Best Casual-Luxury Lifestyle Blog (USA)" in Travel and Tourism by LUXlife Magazine for four consecutive years

With 25 years of published expertise, I'm a seasoned writer, editor, and photographer curating inspiring travel guides and lifestyle tips for empty nesters. I hope to kindle your spirit of exploration, encouraging you to overcome obstacles and turn your dreams into reality.

Learn to minimize your pre-travel angst and maximize the joy of exploration with insights from my experiences. Let's make every adventure a celebration of this exciting phase of life! 

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Next Steps for Empty Nesters

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