It’s hard to imagine your last kid moving out — which is why so many new empty-nesters feel lost and unprepared when they return to find a vacant home. The changeover from full-time parent to free adult isn’t always an easy one, and there are plenty of empty-nesters who go through a period of mourning that can be difficult to escape.
One way to ease your transition to a confident and content empty-nester is to give your home a makeover. Instead of your family’s home, it should be your empty nest, beautifully decorated and perfectly designed to suit all your needs and wants.
Upgrade Your Furniture
When you had little ones running around your home, you likely decided that investing in white, leather or otherwise delicate furniture wasn’t wise. Kids tend to be destructive, even when they aren’t meaning to be, so you probably protected your home with sturdy furnishings that could stand up to heavy use and heavier cleaning.
Now that your nest is empty — and more importantly, now that your kids are grown — you don’t have to worry as much about keeping your furniture safe. As a result, you can chuck many of the worn and outdated pieces that have long filled your living spaces and invest instead in furnishings that bring you greater joy and comfort.
Redo the Kids’ Rooms
It can be a little gut-wrenching to see your babies move out of the house, but you don’t need to maintain their rooms like permanent shrines to their childhood. In fact, even if you anticipate your kids returning to their bedrooms, perhaps to visit during the holidays, it is unlikely that they will appreciate sleeping in a room still haunted by their stuffed animals and kindergarten drawings.
It is best to get everything out of your kids’ rooms and start with a clean slate. Undoubtedly, there will be items you want to pass down to your children or grandchildren. If possible, you should limit the stuff you save to a few small boxes you can shove in the attic or garage. If you want to hold onto larger things, like a crib or much larger toys, you should consider renting a storage unit. I found affordable storage units in nearby Spokane, so you should shop around your closest city for good options.
You should keep at least one room as a dedicated guest room, with a neutral color palette and a large, comfy bed. Any other rooms you redo might become spaces to do empty-nest hobbies or even a workout area.
Spend Time Outdoors
Family homes tend to have their yard overrun by kids’ outdoor play stuff, be it a tree swing, sports equipment or even a small jungle gym. The outdoors does make for good recreation space for families, but all that junk certainly crowds your yard and makes it difficult for you to make good use of the space.
Again, you should go through and get rid of any items your children no longer use, which is likely almost all of it. Then, you should put effort into designing an outdoor living and entertaining space. Transforming a portion of your yard into a room of its own, like an outside extension of your home, is a popular trend, and it can add a large amount of value to your home.
Tackle a Big Renovation
Renovations are difficult for families with young kids. Sectioning off an important part of the home, like the kitchen or a bathroom, can severely interrupt routines that keep a family functioning. As a result, you probably kept putting off a major remodel, convincing yourself that “it wasn’t the right time.”
Guess what — now’s the right time! Whether you have the expertise to do the project yourself or you desperately want the craftsmanship of a professional, you should give yourself the renovation you always dreamed of.
Invest in a New Hobby
Even if you aren’t yet ready for retirement, you’ll likely find that you have so much more free time now that your kids are caring for themselves. Instead of wasting that time watching TV, you should consider devoting some space in your home to a new hobby. Some interesting options include:
- Music. Learning a musical instrument helps the brain stay sharp and gives you access to a fun and thriving community. You can have a music teacher visit your home for lessons and practice whenever you like because you no longer have kids at home to disturb.
- Art. There are all kinds of art worth pursuing, and all of them require space and equipment to do right. Take a few classes at your local community arts center to get a feel for what you like before investing fully in art materials.
- Scrapbooking. If you are missing your kids deeply, you might build a scrapbook of beloved family memories. Scrapbook materials can easily overrun a kitchen or den, so give yourself an entire room to stay organized.
- Sewing. Sewing is a valuable skill as well as a hobby. You might dabble in making your own clothes, or else decorating your home with new pillows, curtains, tapestries and other fabric decor.
An empty nest might be the end of an era, but it isn’t the end of your life. By putting some effort into redecorating your home, you can begin to experience life after kids, which can be a fun and enriching time for all.