These days, what we use to call “free time” can be a vanishing commodity. With the coronavirus still affecting most of the world, and stay-at-home/work-at-home orders are more the norm of the day, finding “free time” can be a bit of a challenge. College students are going to college from the safety of the kitchen table. However, one day, our kids do become adults, and move away. Suddenly, the house seems awfully quiet.
Abruptly, the demands of parental time and attention simply disappear. We have entered the Empty Nest Zone. It is especially apparent if all the kids are gone, and it’s just you and your spouse left looking at each other, wondering what’s next.
Well, what is next? The Empty Nest Zone is somewhat similar to Retirement. If you define yourself by the work you do, and then suddenly you don’t have that work anymore, you are lost. In the U.S., studies indicate that the average span of Social Security checks is 13 months, after retirement. People simply give up, because they retired from work, and didn’t retire to something else.
This same thing can happen to Empty Nesters. They knew that one day the house would be empty, but hadn’t planned on what to do next. So, to avoid becoming an Empty Lifer because of the empty nest, it’s time to decide what’s next. Ask yourselves the question, “What do we want? What do I want?”
Take the time to make lists of constructive ways to spend the “free time” you suddenly have. It could be projects around the house, but it could also be taking the time to explore subjects that you have always wanted to understand. It could be digging into that pile of books that you never really gave yourself time to read. Online courses are everywhere, some for a very low fee and others are free.
Give full rein to your curiosity, and if you are a couple, plan things to do together as well as on your own. It will bring richness to this new dimension of your relationship. And if you are wise and caring, you’ll find something to do that will benefit someone in need. There is always need, and nothing is more satisfying to the human soul than to be able to fill the need of another. You give and receive at the same time.