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After Your Kids Leave Home

Four tips for empty nesters

There comes a day when nearly every parent becomes an empty nester. When the last child moves out or heads off to college, it marks a turning point in life.

After decades of parenting, it can be difficult to let go. But it can also be exciting – even liberating – to turn the focus back on yourself, your relationships and your future. How you respond to this major life event can set the course for the months and years ahead. That’s why it’s important to acknowledge your emotions, set new priorities and take steps to forge ahead on the next phase of your journey. 

Here are some helpful tips to guide you:

1. Reinvent yourself – slowly.

Don’t feel pressured to make life-altering decisions within the first few months or even the first year. Rediscovering yourself is a process. Give it time.

  • Make small changes that add a new perspective to your life. Instead of putting your home up for sale, try a fresh coat of paint or repurposing the kids’ rooms. 
  • Create a bucket list, starting with smaller goals that you can focus on in the short term.
  • Join a club or group so you get out of the house and into a new healthy habit.

2. Re-energize your career.

If you want to make a career change or re-enter the workforce, now’s a great time for self-improvement.

  • Take a course to help you advance in your career.
  • Work with a life coach to identify and achieve professional and personal goals.
  • Talk with a headhunter or an employment agency about different career opportunities.

3. Refocus on relationships.

When your kids are young, it’s easy to get lost in their lives – school, sports, rehearsals, etc. … Now it’s time to find your new identity (as an individual or a couple).

  • Dare to be spontaneous again.  It can help you reinvigorate relationships, reconnect with old friends and start reinventing yourself.
  • Reach out to more experienced empty nesters to find out what they did – or wish they would have done – to move forward in their lives.
  • Invite a relative or a friend for a visit. It will give you a chance to reconnect (and your house won’t feel so empty).

4. Review your finances.

A major life event can change your financial and protection needs. Now is the time to look at your financial picture through the lens of an empty nester or soon-to-be empty nester.

  • Consider increasing your retirement plan contribution.
  • Find out how to maximize tax advantages during this stage of your life.
  • Schedule an insurance checkup to see if you can use life insurance for financial goals or to help cover retirement expenses now that your kids are on their own.

As you adjust to a new norm, keep in mind that this is a time of rediscovery. Yes, change can be difficult. But it can also give you a chance to explore opportunities you never had before!


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