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Your Empty Nest Lifestyle: What to Expect and How to Plan Ahead

Your last or only child is heading off to college. This can feel both triumphant and crushing as you’ve launched them into the first stage of what will eventually be an independent adult life, but your own life is also going to change immensely. So much of it has centered around your child and their needs that you can feel lost for a while when you think about the future without them around every single day. There are a few things you can do to help you adjust and make this time less difficult.

Your Empty Nest Lifestyle: What to Expect and How to Plan Ahead

Think About Costs

Your child may be out of the house, but the rising expense of college tuition and the general cost of living increase means that you might be spending more than ever. It’s a good idea to strategize about how you’re going to afford this, including looking at loans and scholarships. Your child might be struggling to qualify for some loans without a cosigner. However, if you do cosign, you’re responsible for the entire debt if your child doesn’t pay it. While it can be frustrating for your child if you won’t cosign, you may be wondering what your obligations really are. Do some research and think about whether this is something you’re prepared to do or if you can help your child seek funding in some other way.

Think About Your Future

It’s a good idea to start thinking about this a year or two before your child finishes high school, but if they’re only a summer away from going off to college or they’ve already left, you can still do this. What do you envision for your life now? You may want to refocus on your career. You might want to spend more time on certain hobbies. Maybe you’d like to travel or start a business. It is also never too early to start planning for the end of life arrangements. Nobody wants to think about these times however making such critical decisions outside the circumstance of emotional distress usually yields the best experience and outcome for everyone. Above all, your relationships may be ready for a change.

Start Building New Relationships

There are three parts to this. First, think about the kind of relationship you want to build with your child. There is no doubt that your relationship with them is changing, but they will still need you in some fashion, particularly over the next few years. Transitioning to an adult relationship can be tough but ultimately rewarding. If you and the child’s parent are still together or even if you are currently in a relationship with someone else, talk to them about how your lives are going to change and what you would like to do together. 

It’s not uncommon for parents to discover that they have grown apart after being focused on their children for so many years. You may find that you need to take conscious steps to reconnect, such as starting to take an interest in one another’s hobbies or planning a trip together for just the two of you. Finally, think about how your relationships with other people may change. You might have more time to spend with friends or other family members. You might want to think about starting to make new friends.

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