One of my favorite things about being a mom is experiencing the holidays with my children. Watching them get excited about family traditions at every stage of their lives is so much fun. It is quite the experience to see children have fun over the years as families make holiday memories. As time passes and children grow and flee the nest, the holidays look slightly different. It can be challenging for parents to deal with the varying dynamics of the holidays as their children become adults. Here are some tips for celebrating holidays as empty nesters that may help make the transition a little easier.
When your children grow up and move out, it affects your life. They will likely have holiday plans that may not align with your expectations. This can be overwhelming and difficult to adjust to. But, if you are realistic about this and are willing to compromise, you can still have wonderful holidays, even if they look different from the ones that you are used to.
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How can you redefine the holidays when your children are all grown up?
Empty nest holidays can still be magical; you just have to change your mindset. Instead of trying to maintain the traditional holiday celebrations you have had for several years, be willing to redefine what your holidays look like. Even with your refreshed holiday celebrations, you can find ways to infuse some of your favorite traditions. Here are some ways to compromise, but still have memorable holiday celebrations as empty nesters:
Be flexible in your celebration dates.
As your kids head to college or move out, it can be a challenge to celebrate the holidays on a specific day. But, who says you have to celebrate on the specific holiday? Schedule your holiday celebration for a day and time that works for your family. If your children have plans for the holiday, pick another day to plan a holiday celebration with them. For example, if your child is busy on Thanksgiving Day, have dinner the Sunday before Thanksgiving or another day that is convenient for everyone. Do not let a day on the calendar dictate when you can spend time celebrating with your children.
Make plans that do not include your children, if they are busy.
If your children have plans for the holidays, make some plans of your own. You don’t need to sit around depressed because your kids are unavailable. Plan a trip with your spouse or visit friends or other family members. Whatever you do, don’t sit around and be sad because your kids have plans and don’t make them feel guilty for having their own plans. Use this time to do something that you have been wanting to do.
Schedule a Zoom
If your kids cannot make it home for the holidays, schedule a Zoom call with them. This is a great way to connect with your family when you cannot be together for the holidays. You can go the extra mile to have the call in front of a decorated area in your home that will remind your children of holidays at home. Scheduling the Zoom will allow you to have some extra engagement with your children during the holidays, which might help fill the void of you not being together in the same physical space.
What can empty nesters do to survive the holidays?
It will be challenging to transition from a full house to an empty nest for the holidays. But, there are things you can do to make the transition easier. These survival tips can help ease you into your new holiday normal as your kids become adults:
- Be gentle with yourself. Understand that it takes time to adjust to the empty nest. Your first few holidays without your children at home may be very difficult. But, you will eventually learn what will work for your family.
- Be willing to start new traditions. If the old traditions don’t work for your family any more, start new ones that work for the changing dynamics of your family. Don’t spend time crying over the fact that you can’t replicate holidays past.
- Find new ways to find happiness. Do not rely on your kids as the only means of happiness for the holidays.
Helpful reminders for empty nesters
Here are some reminders that may help you as you begin to navigate holidays as an empty nesters:
- Your children are not responsible for your happiness. Do not put pressure on them to always fulfill your holiday expectations.
- The empty nest is a perfect time to reconnect with your spouse. Use this time to rekindle your relationship.
- Talk to your kids about what would work best for them for the holidays. Don’t always assume that your plans are ideal for them.
Though it can be challenging to adjust, being an empty nester is a great time in life. It is a time for you to reinvent yourself and make new traditions while supporting your young adult kids as they find their way.