It’s hard to imagine when you hold your baby son or daughter that a day will come when they won’t be a part of your everyday life. When they will just call, text, or email. When the time you spend together will be limited to visits.
We get so involved in the day to day of our lives that we don’t see what is coming. We feel so burdened by the responsibility of raising children that it never dons on us what life will be like when they leave one day. We are so focused on feeding, paying, and fixing that we never consider what our lives will be like when these precious children are no longer in our daily lives and become visitors in our home.
If I could go back and talk to myself 20 years ago I would give myself this advice:
- Stayed grounded in God’s Word. This will help you keep God and Christ as your focus, not your children. When they leave and your world changes you will have a foundation to rely on.
- No matter WHAT maintain an active prayer life. This will be key to the changes that are coming in your life. It will be key to living through the roller coaster of parenting adult children. Develop the habit early and maintain it.
- Keep your marriage a PRIORITY. I know there are diapers, colds, birthday parties, errands, school activities, and a million things to do, but that will all end one day. Your marriage will need to keep going. If you keep your marriage a priority over the children then when they leave your relationship will be strong, and you will look forward to enjoying the empty nest together.
- Don’t forget about you. As Christians we don’t want to be self centered, but we do need to develop who we are. God is working in our lives to grow us and make us more like Him so it is natural to grow and develop as a man or a woman. To develop our identity as the person God made us to be. This means having friends, reading books, experiencing new things, going on adventures, and developing ourselves into some pretty amazing people.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. My mom told me once that I shouldn’t fret so much about the house being clean all the time. She said there would be time for that when the kids leave home. I didn’t listen. I spent too much time fretting the small stuff. Shoes laying out, laundry not getting done, and worrying about money all the time. She was right. I should have spent more time in the yard playing with the kids, making mud pies, memories, and just having fun.
Parenting is hard. Our two oldest children left home within eight weeks of each other and it was then that I felt like our journey of parenting really got started. When we let them go into a big scary world on their own and trust God for their well being. It was then that my faith would be tested in ways that I could not imagine and that I had to learn to parent solely by prayer and supplication.
“If you want a simple life, that’s a beautiful thing. If you want to use it as an excuse to live beneath your God-given capacity, that is negligence.”
Empty nest and midlife can send us into a life crisis. Our world suddenly changes and we begin to realize how old we are, how much time has passed by, and realize that we don’t have as much time as we used to, to get things done. This crisis can be a beautiful opportunity to assess our lives and take a serious look at what God has for us in this season of life.
We spent a lot of years overly focused on our children. Now they are going to shape their own lives and now we should shape ours. Getting older and having an empty nest isn’t an excuse to live a mediocre life. It’s an excuse to start living an amazing one!
To all parents struggling as they enter the empty nest hold fast to God. This can be a difficult time in our lives and a wondrous time. Where our priorities shift, we rediscover ourselves, our spouse and the life that God is making for us.
To parents with children still at home enjoy the time you have with your children. Prepare them to live their lives and prepare yourself to live yours. Raising kids is a beautiful part of life, but its only one part. Get ready for what comes after that. God has amazing things in store.