Your last child is out of the house.
It’s just you and your spouse.
What is this next stage in your life going to look like?
Who are you, now that you’re no longer a full-time parent?
Coach Christine wants you to know that there’s a pretty amazing woman underneath, waiting for you to discover her.
She may be nothing like you imagined. Her goals and dreams might take you far from the roles of mom and PTA volunteer and master homework wrangler. Are you ready to find out where your life is headed next?
Then dive into this week’s YBTV interview!
Empty Nest Coach Christine reveals why it’s okay if you’re not prepared for your child leaving home, how empty nest affects marriages, and why staying busy is the LAST thing you should do.
What You’ll Learn
Coach Christine is not just an empty nest coach. She’s a mom with an empty nest.
Her empty nest came four years early. Her daughter went to college out of state, and it was like a Band-Aid being ripped off. Her daughter had been with her through homeschooling and community college. Now her daughter was gone.
Christine didn’t want to show any doubts. She knew this was the right thing for her daughter. But the truth is “it sucked. It was horrifying,” she says.
But she got through it, and eventually friends began coming to her and asking for advice on how they could get through their own empty nest.
You Don’t Know What It Will Be Like Until It Happens
Christine doesn’t believe you can prepare for having an empty nest.
“No matter what you think it’s going to be, it’s life. It’s never what you think it’s going to be.”
The transition is so abrupt. It’s “like that day you bring them home from the hospital, or the first day home as an infant. Suddenly, overnight everything’s changed.”
So you could have read all the books and everything, but it’s just … that next day you wake up, and they’re not there.”
Your experience is personal to you. The way your friends are feeling may not be how you feel. The way your friends are coping may not help you cope.
It’s something you’ve got to negotiate for yourself, while honoring your thoughts and feelings and process.
Should You Keep Busy?
You’ve probably heard people say you should keep yourself busy. But Christine has a different perspective.
“What people most do is, they have this list of things they want to do, and they just dive in. Because we’re so used to being busy as parents…. Who has time to think about yourself, right?”
She believes there’s one thing you can do that will make all the difference to how well you adjust: “Take the time to process through those emotions.”
For example, if you’re sad, don’t fill your days with things to do that distract you from that feeling of sadness. Instead, “be sad. Because you are strong enough to get to the other side of sad. You’re not going to discover who you are until you process through the emotion.”
It can be scary to stop and fully experience the quietness of your days. “You’ve been so busy being mom or dad or whatever that role is, that you don’t know who you’ll be without that around,” Christine says. “You can stay busy till you’re dead … but do you maybe want to discover who you are?”
Parenting at a Distance
But surely we don’t have to give up parenting entirely.
Surely we can continue being there for our kids by sending care packages and making regular phone calls?
Christine recommends “finding the balance to know what is good for both you and your child.”
It’s a good idea to hold off on visiting right away. Not just for you, but for them, too.
“They need the time. It might be the first time they’ve ever had to fend for themselves, and they don’t have you to run to…. Yeah, they’re going to make some crappy decisions. Some things are not going to go right. It’s okay. That’s how life works.”
She adds, “Giving them the courage and the strength to know that they’re going to be okay if they don’t have you there all the time is a gift.”
Worried that your kid isn’t responding to your texts or phone calls? “That’s a good thing,” Christine says. “That means they’re active. They’re doing things. They have a life. If they say they’re busy, they might actually be busy.”
How Empty Nest Affects Your Marriage
You and your spouse may not react to empty nest in the same way.
One partner’s like, ‘Woo-hoo! We’re alone! We’ve got more free time!’ and the other one’s a sad puddle on the floor.”
“The important thing is to realize,” Christine says, “is that more than likely both of you are not going to feel the same way. The way both of you feel is okay. Just because you’re sad and they’re not, doesn’t mean what they’re experiencing isn’t valid – and vice versa.”
Not all couples navigate empty nest smoothly. You don’t have the daily routine of parenting or the kids as a buffer anymore.
“Being so busy is a really good excuse to not address things,” Christine says. “Suddenly, it’s like, ‘Okay, here are all the issues that I should have addressed ten years ago.'”
So the choice then becomes—and it is a choice for both of you—‘Do we stay? Do we work it out? Have we been connected all this time? And if we haven’t, do we even know each other?“
Christine is hopeful. “I think the key is, if you just love the other person, you’re going to get through it…. It’s work, but it’s worth it. Because when you’re allowed to be who you are in a relationship, you both get stronger.”
Finding Yourself after Empty Nest
If you don’t jump into the trap of filling your days with new projects and busywork, you can begin to get to know yourself again.
When you take the time to figure out what’s going in your mind, and the thoughts that you have, and how you’re treating yourself, and you start to explore all the emotions that come out … it’s like taking layers off of yourself.”
As you clear out all that old stuff that served you as a mom but doesn’t serve you any longer, you may find that the person you are underneath isn’t like who you thought at all. “She’s super cool; she’s awesome.”
Something new might arise that puts you on a completely different track in life. Equally, you may find that you’re perfectly happy where you are. Either is okay.
Christine has a number of resources to help empty nest moms rediscover themselves.
She’s offering Your Brilliance readers a free 7-lesson course to help them dream again. She wants to help you tap into that energy where you could dream crazy dreams, like when you were a kid.
You can also catch Christine on her Your Empty Nest podcast.
If you need one-on-one help, Christine offers personal coaching as well as camping retreats. She’s found that camping empowers empty nesters to break free from their typical “mom” roles and take on challenges they never thought they could, like starting a fire with steel and magnesium.
“You are amazing,” she says. “Check your thoughts and be kind to yourself.” You are capable of more than you imagine, and your empty nest is the perfect launching place for new dreams.
Jump to Topics of Interest
1:57 Christine’s empty nest
3:50 Preparing yourself for the inevitable
5:35 Don’t stay busy
8:01 Parenting from afar
10:23 How different parents react
12:00 Keeping a marriage strong
13:37 Finding yourself again
16:14 Coach Christine’s camping retreats
18:32 Coach Christine’s free course for Your Brilliance viewers
20:19 You are amazing.
Coach Christine guides mothers who are nervous about the empty nest ahead. She takes them from freaking out to feeling freaking awesome. It is her passion to work with mothers of high school students who are in the trenches with sad and possibly overwhelming thoughts about what life will look like when their “baby” heads to college. Their big question: What will I do with my time? Coach Christine is inspired to guide these amazing women in writing the next jaw-dropping amazing chapter of their life. Find out how you can work with Christine.