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Empty Nest Reset

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The holidays are over.

Time to push the empty nest reset button—just like when you wake up in the morning and aren’t quite ready to get up and you hit snooze every 10 minutes wishing for more sleep. Many of us empty nesters have had a great couple of months of holiday celebrations with the kids coming back at various times and maybe even living back at home for a few weeks during Christmas break. Now, we want to push the “empty nest snooze” button and just wish we would get more time with the kids at home.

Is there a “hit snooze until they come home for next break button”?

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Suddenly the rush of emotions comes flooding back as do the tears.

Wait, we did this already and should be experts by now, right?

Then why do we experience the same feelings that we thought we had dealt with when we first became empty nesters?

Do you feel a pit in the bottom of your stomach as they drive off or when you drop them off at college?

Are you back to being weepy and needing a box of Kleenex nearby?

Does the quietness of the house actually hurt?

Now that we’ve identified some of the things we might be feeling (again), let’s talk about some helpful ways to counteract those feelings and reset.

Recount the memories and wins when they were back.

Print the photos to hang on your bathroom mirror, in your office, or wherever you need a little pick-me-up as a visual reminder of how lucky you were to be together.

Put together a little video of moments you shared together that you can view whenever you feel blue. Send it to your child with a nice note saying how thankful you were to have them around for a bit.

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Flip that negative thought and find a positive.

Trying to find one silver lining can help to flip a negative into a positive.

Doing this as my kids grew up made a tough time more bearable. When my kids had a fever or an ear infection, instead of focusing on how badly I felt they were going through it, I would say, “At least they like to cuddle with me and I’m needed as their mom.”

“I am a good mom” could be something positive out of a crappy situation.

Things feel empty and quiet after the kids head back after break. Here’s a few flips to try.

Instead of My kids are gone, try: I’m thankful my child loves their college and is getting a good education.

Instead of Meal times are so lonely, focus on: It’s nice to have a smaller grocery bill.

Instead of The house is so quiet, turn it into: I like it when I clean something my house stays clean.

Now, I get it—we would gladly have a messy house and bigger utility and grocery bill just to have time with our kids, but finding one small thing can help to ease the pain a bit.

Get something on the calendar (and I mean quick).

Schedule something fun and frivolous for yourself. Something like a massage, shopping with a girlfriend, booking a manicure or pedicure or a facial.

Having something that you wouldn’t normally do when the kids are home brings you back to that place of a bit of excitement that you can do something for yourself whenever you want.

This part can be kind of fun, right? Afterall, the grocery bill has come back down now, and you should celebrate that by spending it on something nice for yourself.

Don’t wait to do it as soon as you finish reading this blog. Get something on the calendar that you can look forward to.

Reset Mindset

This might be one of the most important things to have. Changing your mindset will be the daily prescription you need for a healthy outlook.

It can be so easy to fall back into your purpose and identity filled by serving your family. It feels natural, and now it seems like you are back to your old self again. The house was busy again—not only were your children home, but their friends, boyfriends and girlfriends were here too. Life was good and normal.

You might have had to do a lot of work on yourself including your mindset when your nest first emptied. And let's face it; sometimes it was just plain hard! Falling back into your old way of life and mindset doesn’t take work—it just feels natural.

Now, it is time to work on that mindset of gratitude to combat negative thinking.

The good news is, you’ve done it before, and while it still will be work, hopefully, this time it will go much more quickly before you notice a positive shift.

Starting your day with a gratitude practice changes everything! Instead of feeling what you are missing, you start with what you have.

It doesn’t need to be fancy. Here’s what one of my gratitude books looks like. Just a plain ole little notebook that I fill out with five things while having my morning coffee.

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Go deeper than “thankful for health”. Add why you think or feel that way. Expand on that to “I’m thankful that during a pandemic, I was able to spend that amount of time in person with my family.” Or, if you weren’t able to be in person, try: “I’m thankful that my kids are safe and healthy during a pandemic, and I know I will get to see them again when it is safe.”

Lastly, for a quick reset, create a mantra that you can say when you need a boost.

Here are a few you can try:

I am grateful I get to be a mother. I am a good mom having a bad day.

As I am, I am enough.

Out of all the kids in the world, I am grateful I was chosen to be their mom.

When you feel alone, remember you are not alone. There are many of us out there feeling the same things you are. Support is a community, click, phone call, or email away - RESET.

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