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Finding joy in the empty nest

I’ve been writing a lot about the significant tasks and challenges that face us when the kids fly the nest, but for the next few weeks, let’s talk about the good things that happen to us in that space.

“Here comes 40. I’m feeling my age and I’ve ordered the Ferrari.

I’m going to get the whole midlife crisis package.”

-Keanu Reeves

I love this quote from Keanu Reeves. It represents the mindset I want to take into the future: I want to accept the challenges and developmental tasks and meet them with confidence and intentionality, but I also want to carve out some fun and excitement for myself and my marriage. If there’s going to be a crisis, I want to make it work for me!

If that sounds good to you, too, ask yourself, “What’s my Ferrari?” How can we make the empty nest into a life stage of adventure and new possibilities? The empty nest brings some wonderful opportunities into our lives if we look beyond the difficult changes and focus on the potential for joy.

Have you been wanting to establish a regular date night with your husband? This is the perfect time! Want more “me” time? It’s available in midlife! Have you been putting off important personal maintenance tasks like exercise, doctor visits, and preparing healthy meals? The empty nest makes those tasks easier to manage. Maybe you have always wanted to try a new hobby or sport? Go for it! Maybe you have been longing for more time to study God’s word and pray? You will never find a better time than now.

At midlife, most people find themselves with a bit more time for leisure and sometimes a bit more money to put towards new experiences. Most of us are reasonably healthy and capable of being active. We also have the mental capacity to engage in personal growth and learning because we aren’t dealing with the details of our kids’ lives as much as we did when they were in the home. In other words, we have a lot to live for and a lot to look forward to.

As new empty nesters, husband Jack and I chose this motto for our midlife mindset: “comfort, convenience, and colonoscopies.” Before you decide that's too weird to keep reading, let me explain.

Comfort represents treating ourselves to upscale experiences as often as we can—like choosing a sit-down restaurant instead of McDonalds. With four kids in tow for most of our married life, we rarely ate out and we chose camping over resort vacations. Now that we are only paying for two, we can scale up the luxury a little bit and still stay within our budget. We have enjoyed some amazing travel experiences over the last 4 ½ years of empty nesting, and we have created some beautiful memories with each other! (More on empty nest travel next week!)

Convenience represents doing the repetitive tasks of home maintenance the easy way so that we have more time to spend on things we enjoy. We invested in a robot vacuum, we pay for oil changes instead of doing them in the driveway, and I plan meals that require 30 minutes or less prep time. This adds up to less stress and more time to have some fun together—we can take a walk after dinner or work on a new hobby if preparation, eating, and cleanup only take an hour. It doesn’t come naturally to me, but I’m slowly learning not to do things the hard way.

And finally—the word you are wondering about—Colonoscopies. This word represents our commitment to maintaining our healthspan through regular checkups and screenings for the types of issues that pop up around the midlife point. We hold each other accountable for scheduling our medical care, exercising, and eating our veggies. We want to enjoy each other and our family and friends for a good long time! So, we set aside the necessary time to maintain our physical bodies. Along the way we have carved out time to do some novel physical activities like water-skiing, hiking, and a paragliding class where we actually flew solo for a few seconds. We couldn’t have survived that without fairly healthy bodies—we both crash landed!

So what’s your Ferrari? What’s something you have wanted to experience? What skill or talent have you been wanting to develop? What relationships have you been wanting to strengthen? Where have you been wanting to grow spiritually? This is your time! Choose a mindset of gratitude for the possibilities the empty nest has opened up to you, make a list, and start driving around in your new lifestyle. You will find that God has a lot of joy planned for you in this season.

If this post has been an encouragement to you, feel free to click on the image to the right and download it. You can make it your phone wallpaper and be reminded of the joy God offers in the empty nest every time you pick up your phone!

1 kommentti

Love this !❤️

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