I’ve been working with my empty nester group for over 4 months now. They’re about half way through their group program. This group of women is in the process of uncovering what they want to do with their lives after their kids leave the house. After spending so much of their lives in the child-rearing phase, they entered the group program so that they could reconnect to themselves. They are in the midst of a major life transition.
As with most major life transitions, this change is slow and ongoing. It takes time to reconnect to yourself after spending so many years with a different focus. Questions like ‘Who am I now?’ and ‘What do I want to spend my time on now?’ don’t have quick answers. It takes time to settle in and try a few things out.
If you went to college, then the process there was not so very different. Maybe you joined different clubs or groups in order to try something new. As you did this, you discovered what you liked and didn’t like. You slowly uncovered your truth as it was during your college years.
That’s what happens when your kids leave as well. So, many women think that they’ll just throw a party when the kids leave. However, when you’re then faced with that empty room or empty seat at the dining room table, you start to realize that there’s a bit of a hole in your life.
This is when those questions can start to rise up. ‘What do I really want to do with myself now that I have more time?’ It’s not always an easy answer. If you’ve kept up with a hobby, maybe it’s a transition to more time in that hobby. If you’ve been waiting for the chance to explore a business idea, maybe now’s the time.
However, what if you have no idea what you even like or enjoy anymore. You’re not the same person that you were 20 or so years ago before you had your kids. So, what now?
This is what my empter nester group (The Next Chapter) is helping these women figure out. It’s not a quick check-in & then move forward again. Rather, it’s a process of checking in with yourself, trying something on to see if it fits & then checking in again to see if there’s another layer to explore. It’s understanding how your relationships are changing. It’s finding a new tribe that has similar interests to yours now. It’s about listening to your own voice again and following your truth now.
It’s been so inspiring to watch these women connect to their inner self again. About a week ago, I held a silent retreat for them. It was a chance to meditate, practice gentle yoga and just listen to you own thoughts and feelings without interference from the outside world. I love these silent retreats because when the outside world (phones, tvs, computers, and other people) is kept quiet for even a short time, you’re no longer distracted from your inner thoughts. You have the chance to listen in a deeper way than normal. Awareness around current relationships and activities is evident. Often, ideas about what you want to do come forward. It’s that silence that allows you to listen to yourself in a way that is difficult in daily life.
So after their silent retreat, my group has a few more months to go. Each time we get together, they have the chance to move forward in this transitional period of life just a bit more. This process is slow and evolving. You wouldn’t rush getting to know someone else, so why rush getting to know yourself again? Take time to question what you currently do and question what you want to do in the future. Uncover your current likes and let go of the things that aren’t serving you anymore. Find new friends who can enjoy what you want to do now. Uncover the ideas that you want to bring to life now.
Dropping off your child at college may only take a day or a weekend & that physical transition is done. However, your own transition to who you will be in this time of your life has just begun. So, if you’ve got your first child leaving for college or your last, then give yourself space and time to get to know this version of you. I think you’ll be glad that you did.
If you’ve lost touch with what’s important to you and need help reconnecting, then schedule a private session with me. The Next Chapter won’t open for enrollment again until early 2020, but you can begin your transition with a private session now.