It was an unexpected position to be in. Suddenly, I turned around and my preschooler had left me for several weeks. Before his absence, I couldn’t imagine being away from him. The daily 8-hour separation that takes place while I’m at work is already too much for me to handle. But in order to save money on his childcare, I opted for a $250 plane ticket to send him states away to be with his grandmother for the rest of the summer. I almost had a nervous breakdown, and didn’t know what to do with my time.
My first distraction-related activities centered around cleaning my environment. I removed neglected toy’s from my sons room, turned over couch pillows to vacuum up the crumbs he left behind, and did a deep cleaning of my home. But it only takes a day or two to really clean. So after the dirt was gone, I was back to feeling sad about my empty nest.
I decided to make better use this space in my life. Rather than sitting around feeling lonely, I would get out and make this time count. I was going to accomplish all of the things I’ve always thought of doing but never found the time or life space to do when he was around. I wanted to do things that I could count as experiences, things I found challenging or just time consuming. Here are some things I was able to check off my Empty Nest Bucket List:
1 ) Improv Class
A natural introvert, I shy away from anything that requires a public display of myself. I thought this would be challenging and good for me. It would also get me out of the house and around other adults while my child was away.
2 ) Landscaping
I actually enjoy gardening, but I wanted to do some real work in my yard. My plans included taking a despicable area of my front yard and turning into a wonderland for both adults and children. I had to saw, hammer, measure, and use a lot of physical labor – all of which I suck at. But it was a great challenge.
3) Sticking to a Diet
Without my son requesting pizza and waffles, I could stick to a diet without distraction. I decided to incorporate more natural juices, and buy healthier food products from Whole Foods instead of junk food from discount grocers.
4) Reading a Book
I hadn’t read “50 Shades of Gray” yet.
5) Sailing Lessons
I wasn’t sure about this one since I had gotten sick the last time I was in the Bay whale watching, but I’ve always wanted to learn how to sail, so I figured what the heck.
Now that I wasn’t in a rush to spend time with my son every day, I took walks around my neighborhood.
7) Small House Changes
Making small changes like switching out the hardware on cabinets, or putting up new towel racks and shower curtains can be a great distraction and keep positive energy flowing.
8) Spending Time With Friends
I never spend time with friends. Mostly because I feel like I’m sacrificing valuable family time. But with no family around, I decided to work on my relationships with other adults.
Being a blogger, I decided to actually attend some of the local blogger meetups. I loved meeting all of these new people.
Although I’ve provided some simple distractions for my temporary empty nest, Empty Nest Syndrome is an actual problem for many people. It can lead to severe depression, addiction problems, and other emotional issues. If you are truly suffering from Empty Nest Syndrome, contact a licensed physician. The Mayo Clinic also offers helpful tips to deal with this syndrome.