Nearing Empty Nest: 6 Steps to Rediscovering Yourself

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I can’t wait until she eats solid foods so I don’t have to worry about a bottle.

I can’t wait until he walks so I don’t have to carry him around the grocery store.

I can’t wait until they to go to school so I can have time to myself.

It’s not easy being a mom. Each phase of our children’s lives seems more difficult than the one before. When you wish a stage away — and it always ends — a new stage begins, even before you can sit back and enjoy the glory.

One day I realized I had no more “I can’t waits.”

Entering a New Phase

My kids were entering a more permanent phase — one that, at the time, seemed void of joyful anticipation.

My two older children entered elementary school and my youngest was at preschool, having skipped over his toddler years without me having noticed. As I looked around the house, all that remained was my never-ending to-do list, a pile of dirty dishes, and a sinking feeling that something was missing.

“What the hell?” spun through my head as I sipped my coffee. The last decade of my life had been consumed with changing diapers, celebrating milestones and volunteering at school. As my three children gained a feeling of independence, I gained a feeling of emptiness.

It wasn’t that I was less busy. My children still needed me to drive them to sporting events, help with math problems, set boundaries around screen time, and make sure they followed through on chores. But instead of head supervisor, I had steadily been demoted to “assistant” in their dance of life.

It was time for me to begin choreographing my own dance — yet for me to do this, I could wait forever. Fear enveloped me. How would I start when over a decade of my life had been spent thinking about everyone but me?

As mothers, we experience a mixture of emotions when we release control over our children. On one hand, we are filled with gratitude that they’ve turned into intelligent, independent humans. On the other, we want to turn back time, keep them small, and hold on to the time we spent living and loving through their innocent eyes.

Looking Ahead to Rediscovering You

So how do we stay present in the time we have left with our children while planting seeds for our own personal and professional growth?

Here is my six-part process:

#1: Nurture your inner child.

Now is the time to give yourself the compassion you may desperately need. Start by reminiscing about what you liked to do as a child. Painting? Frolicking in a field? Playing in mud puddles? Dancing and being silly?

#2: Get clear on your goals.

Maybe you want to switch jobs or take up a hobby. When you think you know what you want, dig deeper. And then deeper again. Get crystal clear on what you want. If you’re having trouble, it’s worth hiring a life coach to help you.

#3: Create a vision board.

Not only does a vision board get your creative juices flowing, it’s a fun and non-threatening way to begin dreaming again. Follow these steps and you can’t go wrong:

  • Gather magazines at your local hairdresser’s and doctor’s office.
  • Turn on good music, light a candle, and get to ripping. Rip out entire pages that resonate with you. No judgment or overthinking on this step – rip to your heart’s content!
  • Cut out specific words and images.
  • Glue all of it on a poster board. You can create categories, such as vacation destinations, inspiring words, and lifestyle … or just throw it all on a page.

#4: Find quiet time to reconnect with your inner wisdom.

Whether it’s through journaling, yoga, meditating, or a walk in nature, begin to reconnect with you again. Set a specific time each day (early in the morning before other things come up) dedicated to only you.

#5: Delegate, mama!

Your kids are older, and it’s their turn to take on some of the tasks. Let go of what no longer needs to be done by you and take that extra time to do what you want to do. It’s hard to let go of control — I get it. But trust me on this one, it gets easier with practice. Whose turn is it to do the dishes? Not yours.

#6: It’s time to take action.

This is a critical step in this process. Taking action can be scary because you’re stepping outside of your comfort zone. You may hear yourself say, “I’ll wait until the kids are in high school to do that” or “It’s not the right time for me to take action.” Our subconscious likes to keep us safe + stuck. If fear is getting in your way of moving forward, get curious. What’s it trying to tell you? Why is it showing up? What are you gaining by staying where you are?

Bringing Time Full Circle

A beautiful thing happened when I began to focus on my own wants and needs. Instead of feeling more separated from my children, I felt more connected. Instead of confusion, I felt clarity. I realized my purpose in this lifetime was both that of a mother and that of a powerful woman determined to live to her highest potential.

I chose to no longer wait.

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