I have got to that stage in life when having all my children at home under one roof has become a rarity. But this weekend all my kids have been at home and it was just lush having all of them home together. This weekend I have realised that actually, I am getting to grips with the idea of my boys being men, and starting to enjoy my new found freedom. But it’s hard, so I thought I would share with you 10 tips for how to cope when your kids start flying the nest
My boys becoming adults and moving on is a real challenge for me. I’ve been a Mum since I was 18, I literally had no idea what to do with my free time other than ‘parent’! Also, my boys are all really close in age, so they’re all going at the same time. (I should have planned for this!!) and I can’t lie it is a real wrench. I feel a bit bereft at times, if I’m honest.
I have 4 sons, two stepsons and two biological sons. They are aged 19, 18, 17 and 16. The oldest has been living with us for years and recently decided to move back to his Mum’s, we live in the countryside she lives 200 miles away in a city, and he was ready for the bright lights! Number two is getting ready to go to university, number 3 lives with his Mum and is busy studying, working and enjoying himself as is number 4 (as they should be), so as a result we see very little of them individually, let alone as a tribe, which makes being together like we were this weekend priceless.
My role as Mum has changed and I feel really strongly that my job now is to be quietly supportive in the background as they start to build their own lives, interested, involved, but not in their face. However, the urge to hang on to them, interfere and keep them at home forever, crying ‘please don’t leave me!’ is sometimes almost overwhelming. I have to keep reminding myself that they are adults!
So as they start building lives of their own, the time has come for me to get a life myself! Which I guess is essentially the basis for my tips. The time has come to reclaim your lives!
10 tips for how to cope when your kids start flying the nest
Get away, explore! Go to all those places that aren’t suitable for little people, or bore petulant teens to death! Those child free havens where you can eat in peace and mooch around at a leisurely pace. Book that trip to a far flung destination that you couldn’t afford for a whole family but now with a friend or partner is not quite so pricey!
Here’s some inspiration!
Get a dog
Ah the baby replacement! We got a dog a couple of years ago and he really does fill the gap that my growing children have left behind. He’s always pleased to see me and actually far better behaved and quieter than the kids ever were! Walking gets me out of the house and opens up days out and holidays that we wouldn’t have thought of doing without a dog. Here’s my baby replacement…
Reconnect with your old hobbies
What did you love doing before you had the kids, that you stopped having time for? Did you dance, run, cycle, paint, read, go to the cinema? Well, you can start again! You’ve just got out of the habit, so now you need to get back into the habit of doing something you love again.
Reconnect with old friends/Make new friends
It’s hard when you have children and your friends are at a different stage of their lives, people move, they’re juggling work, their family, their relationship leaving very little time for anything or anyone else, but now you do have time. So maybe it’s time to reconnect with old friends, spend more time with them. Or even look to make new friends who are at the same stage of life as you? You can never have too many friends
Date your partner/Start Dating
I’ve been with Mr Challenge for almost 13 years now. When we got together our children were 7,6,5 and 4. So as you can imagine we didn’t actually get to spend a huge amount of time together on our own. We spent the first year snatching time where we could, when the kids were at school/nursery or in bed, because we didn’t want to involve the kids until we were 100% ready and certain, plus we also wanted to spend time on our own, getting to know each other.
After that it was full on, kids, work and life we rarely spent time together, alone, if we did go out we would meet friends. It’s only literally in the last year that we’ve started going out together and on holiday alone, because we have time and to be quite honest it’s a relief to find that we still actually like each other!
So once the kids are independent the time has come to start spending time with your significant other again like you did in the beginning, reflecting through your rose tinted glasses at how lovely it was!
If you’re single maybe the time has come to get yourself back out there and find someone nice to share this free time with. Plus your kids won’t be worrying about you being lonely, and it takes some pressure off of them.
Try out new hobbies
Is there something you’ve always wanted to try your hand at? Now’s your chance! Maybe you want to take up pole dancing, making stained glass, jewellery making, running, volunteering… The possibilities are endless once you put yourself out there. I’m making cider!!
Set yourself some new challenges
This is my favourite. I see this time as an opportunity to achieve more. Maybe like me you want to lose a significant amount of weight, or maybe you want to run a marathon, change career, get a degree, learn to drive, live abroad… Now’s your chance!
Overhaul your style
Have you spent the last 20 years in the same work clothes and home uniform of anything ‘comfy and stretch’? Yeah me too! This is the opportunity to overhaul your style and start to wear what you ‘like’ rather than what is appropriate.
You don’t have to wipe vomit off your clothes anymore, or grapple with toddlers. No more standing on the side of a windy sports pitch, or shoehorning kids and all their paraphernalia into the car… Your clothes no longer need to be chosen for practicality. Embrace it!
Prioritise your health
When you spend years organising everyone else’s health, making sure they eat properly, monitoring sugar intake, ferrying to appointments and check ups it’s really easy to forget about your own health. Let’s be honest we’re no use to our families if we’re sick. So, start taking time to take care of your physical and mental health. Make time to plan healthy meals, to exercise, to meditate, to reflect, to go to those appointments.
It’s also time to focus on resolving any women’s health issues that you have. I’m only 37 so I’m not menopausal yet, but my hormones are out of whack so I’m currently investigating different ways of resolving this. But you may need to think about reviewing your contraception or treatment to resolve menopausal or peri menopausal symptoms. Keep up to date with smears, make time to check your breasts and go to the doctor if you notice any changes.
Do something you always wanted to, but couldn’t because of the responsibility of parenting.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t been able to because being a parent has meant that there isn’t the time or money to do it? Now you should have a little bit more of both. Think about it. If you could do anything at all what would it be?
My Grandma wanted to travel, so she did. For a woman born in rural Ireland in 1918, she managed to see quite a bit of the world clocking up visits to over 30 different countries including Australia, Singapore and Thailand when she was in her 70’s!
I’d quite like to run my own business alongside my teaching job, so that I can get my mortgage paid off and build a nest egg for retirement. I’m toying with some various ideas at the moment… I also want to travel the world by train!
What do you want to do? Work it out and make it happen!