Has the transition of a newly empty nest left you wondering what to do? Read on for a free printable of practical tips and support for empty nest emotional health and instructions to create a personal retreat that will feed your spirit.
Life with young adults is a study in paradigms. When my son left for college and vacated his room, I took over and transformed it into my writing office.
I loved sitting at my desk early in the morning with a steamy cup of coffee. Looking out the vaulted window at the misty morning sunrise, I gave myself permission and time to discover writing again.
Then summer came.
EMPTY NEST TRANSITION
My stomach started churning right around the month of April. As I looked across the room at his twin bed, I realized time was running out on my sweet, little sanctuary. I felt guilty for wanting to hold onto my space instead of looking forward to my son’s return.
The values of motherly love and a desire for freedom warred within me. In just a few weeks, my son would be tromping across the floor in his work boots, tired from a day at his summer landscaping job. While I loved the idea of having him home again, I had also grown accustomed to having a shiny, clean floor.
I loved cooking meals for him and his friends but also dreaded the 7 half-empty Gatorade bottles left on the kitchen counter when they finished “feeding” and moved on to their next activity.
For me, empty nest emotional health began with this tug of war. This is one of those parenting struggles no one talks about. How do you care for yourself and nurture new interests without abandoning the mothering roles that have brought so much joy?
Here’s the secret: create a personal sanctuary.
THE SIMPLE SOLUTION
A personal sanctuary is a place to refuel, recharge, rest, and relax. It is where you have peace without disturbances from the outside world. It is a place that gives the fortitude to face the world again.
If it helps, think of a personal sanctuary in the same terms as the ever popular “man cave”. Replace the remote control, beer cans and back scratcher with things that bring you joy and you’ll be close to the ideal. If you’re a beer can kind of gal, leave the man cave as is!
The transition from “on-call mom of needy teens” to “empty nest mom waiting for a text as proof of life” is a tricky one. As I discussed my empty nest journey with a much younger friend, she related the story of her mother’s struggle. “I guess you could say my mom never really got over the empty nest. She was sad until I got married and gave her grandkids.”
Unfortunately, variations on this theme are all too common. If empty nest emotional health is your goal, then creating a personal sanctuary is a solid first step in moving toward peace and happiness with this new stage.
If you’re having trouble thinking of personal sanctuary ideas, start your brainstorming. by downloading my printable of personal sanctuary ideas.
GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION
Creating a personal retreat begins with giving ourselves permission and giving our passions priority.
For many years, my to do list centered primarily on my kids’ schedules and interests. Although I dabbled in hobbies as stress relief, there just wasn’t enough time left in the day, nor energy left in my aging body, to fully commit to one more interest.
About a year into my empty nest, I realized I was suffering from parenting burnout. I had all the signs:
- Feeling overwhelmed much of the time
- Decreasing patience with people and situations
- Escaping into the craft store “just to look”.
Recovery from burnout is a slow journey; not a quick dash to some imaginary finish line. You need time and space to recuperate, so don’t rush through this process.
MY TINY OFFICE
After some soul searching, I decided my personal sanctuary would be a space to take writing seriously. At first, I was content to camp out at the kitchen table with my laptop. But as my passion grew, I knew I needed a dedicated space- a place to leave messy or neat. A place to scatter inspiration objects or close the door and cry if I needed.
Our downsized home means space is at a premium. My husband and I discussed the options for a permanent writing location and determined there was only one option. The only room available was a coat closet; we decided that, with a little creativity, we could transform it into my permanent writing nook.
Creating this space meant I wasn’t giving up on myself. It meant I had the support of my husband. But, most of all, creating a space with no other purpose than pursuing my interest meant a very important step in my empty nest emotional health.
“The range of emotions I feel has shifted away from grief and moved more towards excitement over what’s to come. A chapter has ended but another has begun.”Huffington Post
Begin your process by printing out the Create a Space Just for You printable below. You’ll find 14 unique ideas for areas you can quickly and easy transform into a special sanctuary.
For more personal sanctuary ideas, check out this post from Natasha at Unjunkified.
Tomorrow we’ll be talking about the power of color and unexpected ways to choose a palette for your personal sanctuary. I hope you’ll come back!
Try Before You Buy: Unexpected Ways to Choose Color
How to Make the Space You Crave in Five Easy Steps
If you haven’t already, print the Idea Sheet below and start thinking about a place just for you. Or pin this project and come back to it in a few weeks!