Empty Nesters (parents who’s children recently left home) can become depressed, experience marital conflict, and feel a loss of life’s purpose. This person, whom to us just yesterday was a squirming pink bundle, has blossomed into a mature young woman. As she forms her own social constructs, ambitions, and ideals – the aspects of her life that do not include us become more prominent. Where does that leave the doting Moes? This time in life can be lonely and stressful. Early Retirement planning is helping us cope with the looming Empty Nester effect.
A surprising side effect of the early retirement plan is how little we relate to the typical empty nester feelings of anxiety and sadness. There are several reasons that Early Retirement planning has helped us cope with the looming Empty Nest:
- Fancy Free Together: Mr. Moe and I skipped the college experience and went straight into the Coast Guard. Later we tackled college while working full time. Not exactly fancy free. This time in all of our lives will be one of limited responsibilities.
- Supply and Demand: Due to all of her interests and responsibilities, Miss Moe’s time with us is limited and sporadic. When she has free time in her schedule we easily move around our planning activities to incorporate bits and pieces of quality time with her. We know we have such a small bit of time left where we are all living under the same roof and the low pressure time shift creates a more peaceful home.
- Focus on Happiness: We are able to be happy for her about her full schedule of friends, boyfriend, sports, job, and her future plans. The alternative would make for a sad adolescent experience. She can be happy for us and the discussions, planning, and thoughtfulness of our own grand adventure. No one is harboring resentment or sadness, and she sees us as more than parents – we are people too with our own desires and ambitions.
- Embrace Risk: By sharing our hopes and dreams with her she can see that we’re actually real people and that life doesn’t end after adolescence. You never stop growing and you never stop laughing. She’s entertaining the idea of a gap year and time will tell if she’ll keep that dream alive or pursue another. But, the important thing is – we model the pursuit of happiness through calculated risk.
- Technology can be Good: Most of us chastise the social media movement and discuss all the evils it brings. But, when we first moved across the country we were completely disconnected from all of our family and friends (except for the occasional long distance call after a certain time for better rates). Now, using social media, texting, and FaceTime to deepen already meaningful relationships is a godsend. I don’t like SnapChat or Instagram but I’m on them. Because I choose to come to Miss Moe on her platform to communicate in her language. Technology has bridged the gap of regular communications with my close-knit group that brings me joy.
- Focus on Everyone: As an only child, Miss Moe is used to having centerstage. All. The. Time. But, with our new project, as Miss Moe plans her future we’re planning ours. It makes for dinner conversations that are much more fascinating. Instead of always asking about her day and making mountains from molehills, we all discuss our different planned adventures and thoughts.
If early retirement isn’t something you’re looking for, then any major life shift that requires major planning can shift the focus of loss to one of growth. This isn’t to say we won’t miss having this incredible person in our home everyday. But for us, maybe part of curing the Empty Nester syndrome is to sell the nest and fly.