My trip to Madrid, Spain
Have you ever felt guilty for doing something special for yourself, like taking a solo trip abroad, going to an expensive restaurant alone, or buying yourself a beautiful diamond necklace?
I used to feel guilty anytime I spent any money or time on myself. When my children were young I spent the majority of my after work hours with them. I made sure that they had every opportunity that I could provide. Even when I traveled for work, the wave of mommy guilt would rest on my shoulders. I took them with me as much as I could because I wanted them to experience new things with me. I don’t regret a minute of it, but now that my children are adults, I realize that while it was important for me to spend time with them, it was also important for me to spend time away from them.
First, I needed time to focus on myself, relax, let my hair down so to speak, and not worry about what I needed to cook for dinner or who had a homework assignment to complete. Secondly, they needed time away from me to take responsibility for their actions and to exercise some independence.
The good news is that both of my daughters are well adjusted, independent and incredibly focused on their goals. I like to think that I had something to do with all of that. What I’ve learned is that while the job of a parent never ends, it does change. You go from being your child’s caretaker, provider, teacher, and guide to their life coach and confidant.
I often tell people that I love the seasons of life, especially as a parent. I loved the season when my girls were babies cooing in my arms. I loved the season when they were in school and we’d layout their clothes the night before with matching ribbons and hair bows. I loved the high school days of them participating in drama and debate teams. Then, in college, I loved the season of them finding their way in totally new environments, making new friends, experiencing some let downs and failures, but then finding their passion and setting their goals.
As they went through each season, I went through them as well. In the background, I planned, studied, and developed new skills that have helped me in my new season of empty nesting.
My time is full of projects that I enjoy doing. I’m never bored or at a loss of what to do or where to go. The beauty is that I know that my daughters are happy and doing well, and they know the same is true for me.
If you’re facing empty nesting, I encourage you to get busy planning, learning, and doing the things that make you happy. Here are three things to get you started:
1. Look at your calendar and begin marking out times that you want to explore cool places in your area, or anywhere in the world to visit – I used to think that it was so expensive to travel. It really isn’t if you plan your trip in advance. If you’re nervous about travelling alone, join a travel club or group, or plan a trip with friends or family members.
2. Choose a new hobby or pick up one of your old ones like gardening or playing the guitar. I did both, the guitar playing didn’t last long but the gardening did. I am loving my indoor aero garden that my oldest daughter gave me. It allows me to grow herbs and some small vegetables with ease on my kitchen counter.
3. Enroll in a class or classes. Learn a new language or choose a class or certification that will help you in your career. I am a lifelong learner so I enjoy taking classes. I took a conversational Spanish course a few years ago and earned several life coaching certifications.
Changes in your life or lifestyle doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating, it’s just a time to hit the reset button and plan your next season of life.