The older my kids get — my youngest turns fourteen this month — the more I try to imagine what our empty nest years will look like. Because we spread the births of our eight children over nineteen years, we will have lived with children at home for at least thirty-seven years when that time comes. Our family has lived loud and large for a long time, so it’s a stretch of the imagination to picture a quiet, almost-empty house, but that’s surely what our not-too-terribly distant future holds.
Watching children move out and transition to their adult lives requires a period of adjustment for any mom. There can be additional challenges if you’ve homeschooled them, too. When you do life together 24/7, school breaks and summer vacations don’t look much different than school days (there’s just less pressure to be productive). Mothers of children in public or private school get a preview of a child-free home when their kids are gone during the day.
No matter how you school your kids, it’s easy to wrap our identities in roles that have a time limit: home room mother, soccer mom, homeschool teacher, softball coach, PTA president. How will we occupy our days when our years have been filled with cross country meets, baseball games, dance recitals, and gymnastics meets? And don’t forget the practices — so many practices.
A friend recently shared an article on Facebook about a single mom of four sons who planned a four month trip to Europe to figure out exactly who she is now that the last son has moved out. (Grab a Kleenex, and read the article here.) In the comments on my friend’s post, she mentioned that the publisher of a popular homeschool curriculum advises mothers of middle and high school students to develop an exit strategy for life after their children move out of the house.
Please join me today at (in)courage for the rest of the post and let’s discuss exit strategies for transitioning from kids at home to empty nest years!