Updated: Mar 10
Well, here we are—the first day of the rest of our lives. Our kids have left for college, and we are empty nesters.
You too? But the gag is: Now that they are out and you're finally ready to focus on yourself again, you don't know where to begin.
Reorganizing your life after years of being a parent can feel daunting, but it doesn't have to be.
Life isn't over. It's beginning!
Keep reading if you are a Mama wondering what to do before, during, and after your kids leave the nest.
Here are a few tips to get you started on your journey.
1. Let them go. They are grown.
Motherhood is a job that will never end.
We wish for our kids to go and make their mark on the world using the tools we have given them and the lessons we've attempted to teach with confidence and swagger.
But if they no longer need us, which is the goal, what do we do with all the love, time, and effort that we've given for 18 years or more?
Sometimes it is hard to let go and let them grow immediately.
Walking is my favorite time for meditation and reflection. I remember when my sunshine kid, Emani left the house.
I had gone on a morning walk. God began to speak to me. It was time to declutter.
For weeks, I cleaned closets, junk drawers, and every physical thing in my home. Then it hit me.
The clutter was my daughter.
She had returned home after graduating from college.
The hardest thing I had to do.
"Emani, it's time, Baby." I'd done all I could do.
Still finding her way, she came back home for "one year," but the one year had passed, and I saw no evidence of her planning to leave the nest. She was looking for herself.
And as her mother, I supported her.
But now we are entering into year two. Trips, birthday extravaganza, you name it- Emani was living, honey! She had not saved a dime.
It became clearer that there could only be one queen in the castle by the day.
She was never disrespectful, but I could tell she recognized she was grown now. But you can never grow up living with your Mom.
So Mama bird had to kick her out. Well, of course, I didn't kick her out.
We had a conversation like adults, and I reminded her of the original plan and that we were not on track to meet her goals and dreams.
I helped her search, furnish and decorate her new place.
I had to realize Emani's story was very different from my story. She was not me.
At 19, I became her mother. My whole adult life, I had been taking care of someone.
Emani had no child, spouse, responsibilities, or hustle (yet). She had no
My motherly instinct told me that if I didn't give her the push she needed, I would regret pacifying her later in life.
No worries because the story ends well.
Now Emani is a successful teacher with a thriving entertainment business, and she is so in her element.
2. Be open to new relationships with your kids
I quit my job because of Chanse, my son.
We were in a car accident, and he said to me, "You are out of place. God told you were out of place, and you ain't gone. You are going to get us killed. You keep looking for the living amongst the dead. "
OMG! That was it for me.
Chanse and Emani are night and day.
While Emani is pure joy and the life of the party, Chanse is more reserved and an observer.
They are different, and they‘ve had different "Mom"—experiences.
With Emani, I was a stay-at-home mom, totally domesticated: cooked, cleaned, baked cookies for class, you name it.
But with Chanse, I was a working Mom.
It would make me so jealous when my Mom and sisters-in-law came to visit.
Chanse would rush to the door to tell them about EVERYTHING: school, his friends, or something new he was working on.
And I would sit there like well, dang. I've been here all day, and you didn't say any of this to me.
Now I realized he only saw me as Mom, not a friend.
I had to create time to connect with him.
When I quit my job at Chanse’s sophomore year in high school, we got closer.
But it took some time, energy, and effort from me.
Very awkward at first. Chanse and I didn't have much to talk about without laughing at Emani and her singing and dancing being the buffer.
My design business brought us closer.
At first glance, I didn't think we had much in common because he was so analytical, and I was so -not. But when I started to realize Chanse loved designing but from a different angle.
He loved the foundation of designs.
In addition to studying to be an architect, Chanse is now a key player in my business.
Being a mom to small children was very challenging to me.
I didn't play as a child, especially Barbie dolls and stuff. When I did "make-believe," I played office and was the boss.
Disney movies -that was my Mom. Little kids were not my thing. Now that they are older, we do stuff like BIG Christmas.
$100+ gifts, singing, dancing, and adult bubbly, it's a real party!
I'm so blessed to be able to GROW with my kids.
3. Create clear defined boundaries for the new adulting kids
People think I'm crazy. I created contracts for my kids before they moved out. I wrote a young adult contract. Nothing major, but I included things such as: ✔️Hours to return while visiting ✔️How much money I will give them and when ✔️If your car breaks, what I am responsible ✔️Other things that I take the responsibility to pay for them and limits. I didn't leave room for chaos. Peace is a priority in all aspects of my life.
4. Stop the mom guilt and begin to re-learn yourself now
I still cook for a family-even though it's only my husband and me.
Cooking for my kids was how I showed love to them.
Now that they are out of the house, I often cook for my team instead.
My husband and I's relationship is different now too.
We're dating again.
So much has changed over the years. As the kids were growing up, so were we.
Learning to communicate, plan date nights, and enjoy each, not as Mom and Dad but Quian and Vince, have been a blissful experience.
On the other side of therapy, marriage counseling, and some real situations our relationship is now on a new level.
As my kids were growing up, my husband and I always wanted to "be there" for the kids, often leaving one another to feel left on the back burner.
But now we're able to focus more on each other.
I miss my kids so much sometimes.
I light up every time Emani's loudmouth bursts through the doors at home—fussing because we have dishes in the sink or when Chanse pops his head in my office. He loves to see my progress with the company and often tells me how proud he is but never fails to leave my next assignment. My best days are when they come home unexpectedly, and we watch movies and hang out.
"Empty-nesters, empty nesters…" is our answer for EVERYTHING.
No food in the frig? Empty-nesters!
Dishes in the sink? Empty-nesters!
In our pajamas all day? Empty-nesters!
The reminders still don’t stop Emani from leaving disciplinary notes around the house for me and her dad and threatening to take our keys if we don’t straighten up.
Oh, how the tables have turned, Emani!😆
This tickles me.
If you relish every stage of your children's lives with intention, you can avoid looking back and clinging to only one stage.
It‘s impossible to go back in time. And you can’t progress when you hold on to
I know I wasn't perfect.
I did the best I could do with what I knew at the time.
We talk often about processing their childhood experiences through the lens of love and not misunderstand our intentions.
So they may not need to lay on someone‘s couch just yet because they are well aware.
Where we are now, I've been waiting to be.
I love it here and I love watching the maturation we're all experiencing together.
5. Celebrate yourself every step of the way
My kids growing up and moving out was graduation for me.
I gave myself permission to become another woman.
They still need me. Not to tie shoelaces but now for more mental and spiritual guidance.
I've only recently deleted the reminder in my phone to pick Chanse Up from school. He's been in college for three years now.
When Émani left for college, I used the timer as a reminder to pick him up from school as she couldn't help out with this task any longer.
I left the alarm on to pray for him.
I finally let it go.
He is a man now.
I raised him to pray for himself before he left for college.
Of course, I pray for them both, still.
Letting go of the alarm was a mental understanding for me that I no longer have the same responsibility.
As moms, we always wonder what we could have made more of: more Disney trips, more P.T.A., more, more and more.
Let this be a reminder: You have done enough and you ARE enough.
Reorganize your life and make your goals and dreams a priority again.
I'm so blessed to be able to do what I love every day. My business keeps me busy and growing into a better woman, Mom, and wife.
Let your grown kids become adults.
Become open to new relationships forming while creating clearly defined boundaries and stop the mom's guilt.
Now is the time to begin re-learn yourself while celebrating every step of the way.
Tag someone who is an empty nester or is close to having an empty nest so they can read this post and know they are not alone in their journey!