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Mom habit metamorphosis

Last night I cleaned out the refrigerator—again—and sorted out the excess food that my husband and I weren’t going to finish before we left for a quick vacation this week. After 4 ½ years of empty nesting, I’m still prone to over-buying groceries and other household staples. Mom habits are slow to change!

full refrigerator

Maybe you are like me. If you had looked inside my fridge 10 years ago when we had four teenage kids at home, you would have seen it filled to overflowing with milk, eggs, meat, cheese, bread and anything else that filled up those hungry bodies! Now, I’m usually able to keep the shelves half empty and reduce food waste, but I was guilty of way too much food waste while we figured out the empty nesting lifestyle. Those ingrained mom habits kept my fridge full of stuff we didn’t need and probably shouldn’t have eaten!

Of course, mom habits don’t just apply to grocery shopping. They impact how we approach self care, our calendars, finances and household chores. For example, when the kids were at home, I typically designated a cleaning and laundry date when I could be home the entire day and get it all done. We were so busy with kids’ activities that cleaning day only happened a few times a month, so I did a thorough job or got frustrated trying!

Now, I’m comfortable doing a few small tasks each day, often with husband Jack’s help. The house is never 100% clean at any given time, but it stays much cleaner with fewer people living in it and an hour of light effort makes it company-ready on any given day. This is a new habit that works better with our empty nest lifestyle.

couple hiking together

But I’ve found that housekeeping and grocery shopping aren’t the only areas where my mom habits need remodeling. The hardest habits to change stem from old mindsets developed during 26 years of living with children in the home. Mindsets like worrying, nagging, and feeling the need for control are much harder to address than buying too much cereal and milk!

One of the mom habits I’ve been working on lately is a tendency to use my parenting skills on my husband. It’s hard to lay aside your identity and practices as a mom when the kids grow up, and sometimes I still respond with ingrained mom instincts when my husband does or says something I don’t like. Needless to say, mom instincts don’t enhance our relationship! We are both working to re-establish communication habits that reflect our first five years of marriage before we had kids, and this is making midlife marriage a lot more fun for both of us.

wisdom, James 1:5
Downloadable phone wallpaper for instant encouragement when you need it

The empty nest transition ushers some pretty profound changes into our lives, and in order to thrive, we have to make some adjustments to the ways we do life. You might be tempted to hold on to the old ways of doing and thinking, but let me encourage you to stay flexible and develop new habits of mind and practice that promote joy and peace in your nest. Prayer and honest conversation with your spouse are a great place to start exploring new ways of doing life in the empty nest.

One of the big blessings of the empty nest is having more time to pursue new adventures and opportunities for growth. Be open to new ways of doing things, and don't be afraid to let go of practices that are no longer necessary. And be encouraged, friend! God has ordained this passage of your life, and He will guide you with His wisdom as you revamp those mom habits.


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