When my daughter moved to the city to take up her first proper job, and my son began to cohabit with his partner, my husband and I found ourselves alone in an echoing house with a grieving dog and an excess of clean towels. There was suddenly a surplus of food in the fridge, petrol in the car, and a noticeable silence each time we lost our internet connection.
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I had always had purpose in my life, i.e. I had never allowed my children to define me, nevertheless it was with some trepidation that I approached our first foray into empty nesting.
Friends had warned me about Empty Nest Syndrome, and it was hard not to notice the way many of them looked wistfully into the distance each time I asked them about their kids. Hence, while I was nervously excited about the prospect of greater freedom, I wasn’t completely convinced I was emotionally ready.
I was wrong.
These are the surprising truths I discovered about empty nesting:
1. I had more time to myself.
It was an interesting experience to discover middle-aged me once I had the time to really think about my own self-care and the ways I wanted to shape the next stage of my life. The woman I left behind when I began my parenting journey is not the woman I am now, and she is also not defined by children.
2. The house was tidier.
I’m a great believer in the need of order for an ordered mind, and my stress levels dropped considerably without the additional work that comes from two extra people in the house with very different views on tidiness.