Reinventing Yourself After Empty-Nest: How to Keep Yourself Busy in 9 Excellent Ways

Reinventing yourself after empty-nesting can be a bit of a challenge. For many parents, it’s hard to find purpose after your children have left home. But it helps if you immerse yourself in a range of activities. That way, you’ll be too busy embracing your new lifestyle instead of wallowing in empty-nest heartache. So, try these 9 excellent ways below to keep yourself busy in order to adjust to your new circumstances faster and more easily.

middle-aged woman in car applying lipstick

CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn excellent ways to reinvent yourself after the empty-nest, including these tips:

Why Keep Yourself Occupied When Your Children Have Left Home 

When your kids have grown up and moved out of home, life might seem quiet to begin with. But before you know it, you will have the freedom and time to take up new hobbies and just enjoy your own company.

Why is this important?

Because, in truth, entering this new phase of life can be a little traumatic—especially if you are like most devoted parents who fully invest themselves in their children’s lives. It might feel like grief, or boredom, or just a general lack of direction.

Their leaving home and moving on to their own lives without you somehow comes as a bit of a shock. It’s one of those things that you can’t really prepare for, even though you knew it was coming.

The most likely scenario is that you’ll feel a mix of emotions when you become an empty-nester, some negative, some positive.You might celebrate their successful launch to early adulthood, too!

One thing is for certain, though: you can be proactive about adjusting to empty-nesting. It’s importing to begin reinventing yourself after empty-nesting

So here are some ideas on what you can do to enjoy your newfound freedom. The good news is, in no time at all, you’ll be thriving as an empty-nester.

Editor’s Note: If you are feeling a prolonged sense of hopeless and overwhelm, please seek emotional support from a mental health professional.

1. Visit New Places

You might not have had the opportunity to travel around freely when the kids were younger. But now you can visit other areas in the US you have not been to with kids in tow.

Whether you plan to visit a nearby state or the other side of the country, you can just take off for a few days or weeks and visit wherever you choose. It may feel a little strange at first – like you’re missing something. Then, it will feel amazing!

So amazing that maybe now is the time to plan that trip to Europe or the Caribbean you’ve been dreaming of. 🙂

2. Do Some Gardening 

Gardening is such a fulfilling activity that will keep you busy year round. Whether that’s during the warm summer months or when the crisp mornings start to begin in fall, there’s always work at hand when you take up gardening.

When you grow some homemade vegetables in your backyard, you can watch them slowly grow as you nurture them each day. It will give you something positive to focus on and also provide you with some exercise in the fresh air.

In the winter months, turn to caring for houseplants, planning the spring garden, and ordering seeds. As the gardening saying goes, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” That’s exactly the type of outlook you want to cultivate right now.

3. Cook Yourself A Lovely Meal 

woman seasoning a chicken and rice dish

It’s true that it’s harder to cook for just one or two when you’re used to making a big spread for family. For one reason, recipes aren’t geared to so few servings. Plus, it’s hard to break old habits of big-batch cooking. But it’s important to take care of yourself with good nutrition, especially if you’re feeling a little down.

So instead of opting for a takeout option, why not pick up some fresh ingredients and cook yourself a lovely tasty meal like a homemade spatchcock chicken recipe, or a comforting casserole?

It doesn’t need to be a meal that requires lots of hours to cook, but it will keep you occupied for a bit if you enjoy cooking, anyway. Chances are, it will be a much healthier option than anything you order out.

Then you can just put your feet up, pour a glass of wine, and enjoy a home-cooked meal with your significant other, or while reading a good book or watching your favorite movie.

4. Give Yourself A Pamper Session

If you can’t remember the last time you had a relaxing day or evening where you got out your favourite products and gave yourself a pamper session, then now is the time. Whether that means indulging in your favorite luxury hair products, doing a facial, or giving yourself a pedicure, this time in life is for you.

It’s so good to be able to relax and look after your hair and body and you deserve the best care. It will give you a much-needed boost, too. 

So many parents put their own self-care on hold while you’re raising a family. Well, now it’s your turn. You can finally treat yourself without the tiniest bit of guilt.

5. Take Up a New Sport | Hobbies for Empty-Nesters

woman lacing up gym shoes

You have the time on your hands now, so why not take up a new hobby or sport? It will give you the opportunity to make some new friends and learn a new skill. This is a great way to keep yourself active, which is important, but you might also find that you enjoy this new sport or hobby that you take up.

You may pick up a sport or hobby you haven’t done in a long time. But since the key here is reinventing yourself after empty-nest, you can also consider hobbies and sports that are completely new to you. That’s half the fun!

Related Post: Enriching Hobbies that Travel Well.

6. Redecorate the House

Now that the kids have moved out, you might take a look around at your home and discover it’s a bit worn. Maybe you skipped the white chair or never used fine china because you knew they would get ruined. After all, it was more important that your family could relax and be playful at home over a magazine-cover decor.

But guess what? Your story has changed. You no longer have teenagers and their pack of friends traipsing through the house. In fact, you now have spare bedrooms and maybe a rec room in the basement you can repurpose to suit your needs.

Now is a perfect time to repaint the walls to cover any scuffs, dents, and fingerprints. Refresh the furniture. Revitalize the kitchen. Replace the linens. Not only are you reinventing yourself after empty-nest, you can reinvent your home!

Create your home exactly the way you would like to use it as empty-nester(s). That might mean a wine cellar, a yoga studio, and a craft room. In any case, you have an opportunity to renew your home environment with fresh intentions.

Related Article: How to add Your Personality to Your Home Decor

7. Reboot Your Career

Maybe you’ve put your career on hold while you were raising your kids. Or maybe you’ve always dreamed of running a certain business but didn’t have the time or energy to bring it to life. Well, now you do.

As you step into your role as an empty-nester, recognize that this makes it possible for you to devote time to your professional desires.

You probably still have 10 or more years before you’d consider retiring, so why not go big? That’s plenty of time to climb the corporate ladder, bring a new product to market, or start a meaningful community service.

Even if you’re not so ambitious, spending a few hours working in a boutique or coffee shop can be exactly the change of scenery and interaction that brings more meaning to your day.

And if you feel like your lacking skills, don’t forget your experience with children and caregiving. With limited training, you could work as a teacher’s aid, nanny, elder care-giver, or pre-school teacher. Those are all great options for reinventing yourself after empty-nest.

8. Reinvest in Your Marriage or Start Dating Again

So, maybe you’ve grown apart and are sitting across with someone who feels out of touch with your reality and you just can’t seem to connect as a couple. Or, maybe you’ve been going it alone as a single mom all these years and really, who had the time or interest for dating?

You are at a turning point in your life when it comes to romantic relationships. You can take small steps or make some big decisions about your future.

If you are both committed to your existing relationship, you’ll want to take the time to reinvest in reconnecting and giving each other a priority. Chances are, it will be well worth the effort. Others might make the decision to part ways. And if you’ve been or will be alone, dating as an empty-nester might be on your horizon.

Whatever your circumstance, you’re sure to have some exciting things ahead of you! Reinventing yourself after empty-nesting can look as similar or different to your former life as you choose.

9. Reconnect with Friends

Your social life is about to get better. Think of all the invitations, GNOs (Girls’ Night Out), social events and other opportunities you declined when you were bringing the kids to league soccer or college visits. You won’t fully appreciate how much time your children took up until they move on.

Newsflash! Your calendar is free.

In fact, you may just want to initiate those gatherings with friends yourself when you’re reinventing yuorself after empty-nest. That might mean hosting a dinner party, inviting another empty-nesting couple to go out to dinner, or joining the Wednesday Night bowling league.

Finding your place among friends is a great way to overcome and share how empty-nesting is going for you. Your experience may be just the words of comfort a fellow empty-nester needs to hear.

Final Thoughts on Reinventing Yourself After Empty-Nest

Once you consider the options above and decide to take action, you’ll have an easier time adjusting to your empty-nest. Of course, it’s not always easy and you’re going to miss your kids. But you’re going to have more time now to create the life you envision. With any luck, one or more of these activities will play a part.

Photo credits – lipstick, cooking – RODNAE Productions, sport – Karolina Grabowska  (Pexels)

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

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