08/25/2014 08:22 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

10 Ways To Be (Really) Happy In An Empty Nest

Are there really ten ways to be happy in the Empty Nest?
Absolutely, in fact there is an infinite number of ways to be happy in the Empty Nest and to THRIVE!

Back in May, I wrote a post letting new Empty Nesters know that I had been giving their situation of a great deal of thought. The deadline of May 1st had passed and their grown up high school senior had made the final decision where they will attend college. The new college may be close by, it could be an unimaginable distance or somewhere in between.

Several months have passed. How are you feeling now?

School begins soon and it is really getting difficult to breathe, isn't it? The reality of their departure is beginning to sink in. Your child is making lists and packing up, so excited for this next adventure. How are you sleeping? Not much I bet. Anxious thoughts are swirling in your head keeping you from getting any needed rest.

There are so many decisions to make and so much uncertainty! Very soon you will spend the afternoon on a college-shopping spree with your new freshman to Bed Bath & Beyond. It is time to buy the XL Twin sheets set for the new dorm room. How many towels should you buy? Do you really need a reading lamp? Egg crate foam or mattress pad? Both? Do you need to ship it because he or she is going to school on the East Coast? You ask the salesperson: "Do they have any more blue sheet sets? Those other colors are not very masculine; we need blue for my son."
It's really happening. The moment you have anticipated and dreaded for a very long time. Your child is really leaving for college! It makes me cry just thinking about it. How about you?

But wait! There is a better way to look at this new phase of life. Your child is going away to school, but your life can be as fulfilling as it was before. The house is no longer bustling with children and will become the much quieter Empty Nest, but you can be happy, very happy, I promise.

Here are 10 (just to get you started) ways to be happy in the Empty Nest!
1. There is now time for YOU! So take the time to make the time!
2. One of the very biggest things you need to work on is learning how to focus on yourself. It's all about you and your spouse.
3. MAKE A LIST of everything that you love. Is it ... cooking, reading, exercising, bowling, gardening, music or travel? What makes YOU happy?
4. Take that list and put it where you can see it. Look at it every day and start to think of your own dreams. What are you passionate about? What will get you up in the morning and put a smile on your face?
5. Dream! Dream BIG! You were so busy with your child's dreams that you forgot about yours.
6. Plan a trip to visit your child. Just knowing that this trip is planned in the future will help you a great deal. Plan to visit on Parents' Weekend. Make your reservations now.
7. Have a cocktail. (For the non-drinkers... a deep breath and a beverage.)
8. If you are feeling down, reach out to friends and family and look for a support system. Get a group of Moms (and Dads too) together and fill small boxes with goodies for the new college freshman and mail it to them.
9. Know that your child will THRIVE in college. You have given them all of the tools they need. They can do this and they need to do it without you. THEY CAN DO THIS. DONT WORRY.
10. Pick up Arianna Huffington's new book Thrive. It is an inspirational resource which provides motivation to help you "remake the world in your own image, according to your own definition of success".


Becoming a successful Empty Nester is a work in progress. It is one more step on the ladder of life. Satisfaction won't happen overnight, but I promise you that you will smile and be happy if you work at it. Now if you start with these first "Ten Ways to be Happy in the Empty Nest", it will hopefully give you a head start.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

Celebrity Empty Nesters