Preparing for the empty nest

As homeschooling parents, you might think my husband and I would have a particularly hard time adjusting to a quiet house. But truth is, as our youngest graduates to legal manhood next week, we are enjoying stepping into this phase of life.

We’re turning off the TV. Especially in the winter when the days are dark and the wind howling, the path of least resistance is to put our feet up and grab the remote. When we realized we were getting into a rut, “no TV Tuesday” was born. The first go at it was not a total success. We sort of stared at each other, read a little bit, then stared at each other some more. By 10 pm we decided to watch the news as a reward for our evening of self-control. No telling how this will go when the Olympics are on.

We gave up on dance lessons. As our older friends settled into empty nests, many of them became enthusiastic dance class attendees. In anticipation of our daughter’s wedding, we gave it a shot. Turns out, the reason we haven’t been dancing for the past 30 years is because we are no good at it. We scratched that off the bucket list and are moving on.

We’re changing how we cook. It took me a while to catch on to this one. Then one day I realized there were gobs of spoiled leftovers in the fridge and expired cans in the pantry. We had gone from feeding five or more people (and as homeschoolers this means three meals a day), to two of us. Sometimes our high school senior sticks around for the evening meal, but not often. One thing we embraced with glee is that we can afford better quality food. Sorry kids, but now that you’re not here we have more fresh fruits and veggies, and fewer five dollar pizzas.

We’re re-learning intentional conversation. When the kids were young, we were not too proud to follow a script for family dinner discussions: What did you learn today? What was the best part of your day? What do you want to do next summer? Table talk for two requires even more effort. How was your day? is not usually enough to keep two people engaged for more than a minute or two. Tell me about your day, is sometimes adequate; but questions like, What was the best part of your day? create quality interaction with two as well they did with a passel of kids around the table.

We’re also discussing hobbies, but first need to clean out the basement.

empty nest bird pair

16 thoughts on “Preparing for the empty nest

  1. Linda says:

    Came to your blog by way of the Homeschool High School Blog Hop. Not an empty nester yet, still have my only child in 9th grade, but, I appreciate your section about intentional conversation. As my child gets older there are times when she goes off to a different part of the house to do her own thing, and the adults are left sitting there looking at each other. We used to talk all the time, then there was a little girl….I am going to have to relearn that intentional conversation thing! Thanks for sharing!


    • Traci Matt says:

      Yes, as she gets older and starts driving you will find yourselves with much more time for conversation! 🙂 Thanks for checking out my blog. I wasn’t sure the link worked for the blog hop so happy to see it did.


  2. Jackie P says:

    Hi Traci, it’s Jackie stopping by from the February Let’s Homeschool High School Blog Hop. Thanks so much for linking up with us this month.

    Your post left me with a smile and homework. My daughter is a few years from leaving, but lots of what you posted apply to my family now. (my daughter is an only)

    Don’t know if you are aware of this or not, but the Let’s Homeschool High School Parent Forum has a brand new sub-forum–Empty Nest Support Group–
    I bet lots of homeschool parents would benefit from this post and your experience. I am going to post a link to it. Drop by and check it out. I am sure it will create some great interaction.

    I look forward to you linking up with us again in March.

    Let’s Homeschool High School


  3. Julie F says:

    Great tips. I think the cooking changes and the intentional conversations will be two that we’ll need to work on at my house in just a few years. I’ll be coming to you for your great advice!


  4. Alesia says:

    So nice to see a current page from 2014 for homeschool empty nesters. I will complete my 15 yr home school career this May. Our only child is 18 yrs old and she will be heading to college in August. I think it would be a great idea if there were support groups for homeschool moms and dads to adjust and flourish in their new season of being retired homeschoolers. Thanks for opening the conversation.


  5. Margaret says:

    Alesia and Traci,
    Joining you, Alesia, in a couple of weeks when my 25 years of homeschooling ends with my last daughter’s graduation. Real mourning is striking, as well as some terror: what next!!! It’s really true: all those times I thought I’d never have time, and suddenly,…. it looms…..


  6. Traci Matt says:

    Well, first of all, congratulations, Margaret! What an accomplishment for your entire family. I love your words “mourning” and “terror” — what raw emotions. I am finding that having built an identity as a homeschool mom for 25 years makes the transition harder. I saw someone on Twitter this week who is a “retired homeschool mom” and I like that phrase. So what options do you see for your days post-graduation? (Besides a month to sort through the final paperwork and recover.)


  7. Christine @ Swallows from my Kitchen Window says:

    I so can relate to this Traci. Our youngest graduated in May but will (finally) be leaving home next month. My husband and I are preparing to sell our house so unfortunately, much of our conversation revolves around the Home Depot shopping list and whether we want to keep attacking our rather large and mostly unneeded pantry supply! It happened faster than I would ever have imagined….


    • Traci Matt says:

      Christine, you are really making changes fast! Our youngest continues to live at home and is taking classes at the junior college, so things are not quite empty here yet, but I know it’s coming. And yes, it happens in a blink.


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