TomorrowMakers

Time flies the fastest when your kids are growing up. Before you know it, they are leaving home to start their own lives. But that also means a new start for you.

How my life changed when my kids left home to lead their own lives

When my son emigrated to Canada last year for work, my friends started talking about the empty-nest syndrome and how I should brace myself for it. It wasn’t the first time a child of mine was moving away; my married daughter has been working in Singapore for two years now. But now, with both my children far away, I knew that life for my husband and me would be starkly different. 

While I had many apprehensions and concerns, I was sure I didn’t like the term ‘empty nest’. It’s misleading on two counts. First, it implies you’re losing something when you’re not – your children will always remain your children. Second, it makes one think that children are the only focus of their parents’ lives, especially moms, and that there’s little else to live for. 

Yes, I miss my kids dearly. Even now, a wave of nostalgia and longing sometimes washes over me. Every time I see young children convincing their parents to buy them something at the store or when I plan what to cook for dinner, it hits me. But overall, life hasn’t changed in any dramatically negative way. I had to make some changes and adjustments – and surprisingly, it wasn’t all bad! 

Related: Things to consider while buying health insurance for your parents

So, here’s what to expect and prepare for when your children move away:

Your relationship with money will change

The way you deal with money will significantly change once your children leave home and start their own lives. With the children no longer financially dependent on us, my husband and I have a lot more disposable income. Our savings goals have also changed since we no longer need to save for their education. 

For the first time in our lives, we have fewer responsibilities! The home EMIs are long done, and other than grocery and utility bills, we don’t have anything to spend on. We can now shift our focus from saving to spending – on all those expensive hobbies we avoided so that we could indulge our children instead. And so, I’m filling the home with art pieces I’d never have thought of buying a few years ago! 

Your travel plans can be yours alone

While we went on plenty of family vacations, it was only last year that I – for the first time ever – travelled to a country that I wanted to see. While planning trips with our children, we would always settle for a destination that would keep them happy. 

Apart from the choice of location, even the activities we indulged in depended on what they wanted – malls, zoos, amusement parks, and safaris. Last year, I finally took a trip to France with my husband, and it was full of wine, macaroons, and romantic date nights. Despite our age, we felt like teens in love all over again! 

Related: 4 Things to know about senior citizen travel insurance plans

Your equation with your kids will mature

The older your children get, the more they will relate with you. I’ve had my daughter tell me so many times, "Mom, remember when you said…? You were so right!" Whether it’s about money, work dynamics, or just running a home, both my kids appreciate my advice now. When they were younger, it would all seem like a ‘lecture’ to them, and they would roll their eyes. Now, they seek my words of wisdom!

Bear in mind: even though you may not be a full-time parent once your kids leave, you’re not ever going to be through with parenting. Another beautiful thing that’s going to happen is that you will be able to talk to your children more honestly now – and so will they, with you. 

Related: Living in home vs living in a retirement home in India

So, what’s next?

I’ll be honest – immediately after your children leave home, you will feel a void and think ‘what now?’ Give yourself some time and then convert that feeling to ‘what next?’ It’s a fact that you will have more time, money, and energy now with your kids living their own lives. Look at this as a great thing. 

These are your golden years. While your children pursue their dreams and build a life for themselves, you can rediscover yours in a whole new way too. My husband and I made a mindful effort to do some things after our son left last year. It’s not only kept us busy but also happy and content. More than we expected!

Here are some activities that you can try too:

  • Rediscover a hobby

When I met a friend from school some months ago, she asked me if I was still a voracious reader. It saddened me to say no. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d picked up a book, though it was my favourite thing to do as a child. I’ve now resumed the reading habit, and the joy it gives me is indescribable.

  • Volunteer for a cause

Whether it’s your time, or money, or both, this is the best time to give something back to society. A couple of weeks ago, I signed up to teach English to underprivileged children on weekends, and I haven’t done something so rewarding in a long time! Spending time with these children and enabling them to build a better future for themselves helps me as much as it helps them. 

  • Entertain more often

I have reconnected with my old friends, siblings, cousins, and even neighbours over the last year. We have someone or the other coming over on weekends – for dinner, game night, or wine tasting. It’s relaxing, entertaining, and keeps you surrounded by people you care about and those who care about you. 

  • Become tech-savvy

I cannot emphasise this enough. Get active on social media; it’s easier to navigate than you might think. It helps you stay in touch with your kids and learn about their daily lives better. You will also find communities of people that care about the same things as you – books, gardening, cooking, or whatever.

  • Focus on your marriage

It’s natural to be so occupied with all the responsibilities and struggles of life that the spark you shared with your partner when you were both young is nowhere to be found. Take this opportunity to strengthen your relationship. My husband and I have date nights every week now – and we find ourselves falling in love with each other all over again! 

  • Consult  a financial advisor

It’s important to go over your retirement plan with your partner and consult a financial advisor. If things look good, you could plan an early retirement and pursue your life’s dreams! My husband is already making plans for a grand world tour, and my once-pipe dream of starting my own home business seems very much possible now. 

You know what’s the best part? Every time my children come over now – or when I go to visit them – the happiness I feel spending time with them is incalculable. In the end, if you give your children enough space and manage to focus on your life, you will be able to build and maintain a healthy, strong, and loving relationship with them even after they have grown up. Here's how to ensure your child grows to be economically independent

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