Is there an empty nest in your immediate future? "Prepare early," advised Christie Mellor, Huff/Post50 blogger extraordinaire and author of "Fun Without Dick And Jane: Your Guide To A Delightfully Empty Nest," the latest companion to the best-selling"The Three-Martini Playdate." "Start having your life now, so that the shock isn't so shocking," she cautions empty-nesters-to-be.
Fortunately for those who already have had the kids fly the coop, it's never too late to fantasize; it can be thrilling just to think about the things you could do with all that time previously spent micromanaging your children's lives. Travel, renovate your house, move...the sky's the limit. After all, "planning is sometimes half the fun of doing anything," Mellor said.
But don't stop at just planning for empty nest life -- act on it. Though her own nest is only "half-empty," Mellor invested in some sailing lessons; her own mother went back to college when her kids left home, Mellor told The Huffington Post.
One approach to planning your new empty-nest life? Do something you would want to see mentioned in your obituary, Mellor said. Take this anecdote from Mellor's book for example: a woman decided to paddle across the Atlantic Ocean after she considered the way her obituary would read if she did and if she didn't. "Think about what it is you want to do that has nothing to do with your children, for a change," Mellor said. "Even if it's as simple as, you want to putter around the garden more."
The last step? Live accordingly.
Click through the slideshow below for Christie Mellor's 10 fun ideas on how you can spend your time outside (or inside) your empty nest.
Follow Your Child Back To School
Mellor cautions against actually purchasing a condo nearby after move-in day...but heading back to class yourself isn't a bad idea. Mellor's own mother completed her degree as a fifty-something, but you could start a little smaller than that -- say, listening to <a href="http://www.ted.com/talks" target="_hplink">TED talks</a> from home.
You're free and the sky's the limit! Above all, Mellor advises, do not fester in "sadness, loneliness and abandonment."
Especially if you've never gone before.
Get Re-Acquainted With Your Spouse
"And that man, sitting across from you at the breakfast table...he looks...familiar," Mellor writes. "You know him, you just don't know how." Use your empty nest time to remember what your relationship with your spouse or partner was like before the kids came along.
Have Friends Again
Mellor even provides a handy recipe for your next party. (That's cocktail party, which means no clowns and balloon animals. Remember those?)
Get Off The Couch
"Our bodies, apparently, will not exercise themselves while we sleep," Mellor observes. Since you must exercise at a certain point, "you might as well find some fun ways to do it." Like dancing!
Turn On The Music And Dance 'Naked By Candlelight'
A favorite strategy of Anna Dello Russo, editor of Vogue Japan, for getting in touch with "the spirit of your outfit," empty nesters can benefit from this tip as well. The empty-nest years are a time to start paying attention to your appearance again, says Mellor, especially if you've gotten into bad habits (mom jeans, anyone?).
"Learn to be a sloth, and without guilt," Mellon writes. "Wallow in languid inactivity." You've earned it.
Become A Concert (Or At Least Living Room) Pianist
After all those years of coaching your kids through music lessons, you've probably picked up a few things, observes Mellor -- why not indulge yourself with a few lessons?
Feather That Empty Nest
Redecorate that extra room! Make it a yoga studio, or a new TV room. Explore what your space can be like when you're decorating with your needs -- and not Dick or Jane's -- in mind.