Life is a process of coping with the known and the unknown. Usually, it is the unknown that catches us so off guard since you have time to prepare for the known. However, there is nothing that can prepare you for when children are ready to spread their wings and fly off to college.
After spending almost half of my life with my kids being a part of my everyday existence, there was nothing left to do after they left home but to switch my focus during those quiet and lonely moments at home and concentrate on something or someone else. I did both; I reflected and rediscovered the part I had temporarily put on the back burner for so many years. I had dreaded the loneliness, sadness and emptiness that parents feel when a child goes off to college. Instead of letting these feelings overwhelm me, I decided to focus on me a little more and get back in touch with the me that had been looming in the background for all those years.
Having a second chance to pursue the things I didn't get to do before starting a family was like a new beginning. Rediscovering and coming full circle with myself was a huge accomplishment for me. I am living a very fulfilling and satisfying life knowing that I gave everything to my children while they were at home and now I have the opportunity to concentrate on me and make the most out of my life.
This significant transitional time is a great point to rethink or build on your career. I was a stay at home mom for about 12 years until my youngest went to preschool and I started working part-time. After my children left for college and I was face-to-face with tuition payments, once again, that inner voice started nagging at me. After all the money I had paid for my own college degree, I actually had never pursued anything in my field which was English Literature/Writing. My previous employment before children was in the business field. My lifelong dream had always been to be a freelance writer so I reconnected with that lost dream and am now pursuing it while my children are off discovering their own dreams.
Pursued Interests and Hobbies
I had spent so many years involved in my own kids activities that I had really lost sight of what I enjoyed doing. So, I made a bucket list. The one thing I had always wanted to do was to learn to play the guitar. Guess what? I'm taking lessons and am well on my way. I now have time to pursue interests that I didn't have time to pursue before.
Joined Social Groups
Extending your circle of friends is invaluable during this season of life. I have always loved reading so I decided to take some of my interests and turn them into social venues where I could get out and meet people or just rekindle the spotty friendships I already had made in the past, but had neglected over the years. I formed a book club which ended up meeting both of those needs. I also love playing cards and any kind of board game, so I started a game night with friends where we take turns once a month meeting at someone's home and enjoying some fun times together.
Rekindled Romance and Relationships
In most cases, marriages and relationships suffer during those years of raising a family. The children always come first and are at the center of the family structure, as it should be. After the children leave home, there is more freedom to dote on your spouse or significant other. It is a great time to rediscover each other and rekindle or rebuild the romance that brought about these children in the first place.
Companionship of Pets
Most pets are like family members. This is a great time to buy a pet or reconnect with the one you already have. This helps fill the void of the quiet empty house.
Not being involved hands-on in your child's every day life can create a powerful identity crisis. Look at this time as a new beginning and take time to reflect. This is a great time of self-discovery and growth. There is a time for everything.