The kids are grown and the house is quiet. You’re finally free to focus on yourself and what makes you happy. There’s just one catch: you don’t even know who you are anymore. You feel like you need to get to know yourself again. But how?
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I hear that a lot from women facing the empty nest and I felt it myself when my daughter no longer needed me to drive her everywhere. Suddenly, after years of being primarily a mother, I was free to be me again. Only, who was that anyway?
In a way, empty nest moms are like the Olympic Athletes I just watched giving their all over the last three weeks. For years, we focus on one goal and then suddenly it’s all over. The way it turned out is the way it turned out and we can’t change anything, just as an Olympian can’t go back and try again for that gold medal. We’re done and that’s that.
What we can do is look ahead. And look inside. It’s time to figure out just what makes you tick and what gives you joy.
I spent a long time thinking these very issues as I watched my daughter anticipate her new life away at college. In fact, I’ve created an e-book of journaling activities based on some of the things I found helpful as I began the journey to get to know myself again. However, there are some other things you can do to really get to know yourself as you think about what’s next for you in life.
Get Curious about Yourself
Don’t just go about your daily routine on autopilot. Instead, pull back throughout your day and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this bringing value to my life?
- If yes, is there a way I can do more of this?
- If no, does it really need to be done?
You might want to even keep a notebook with you throughout the day and track whether the activities in a typical day energize you or drain you. We are supposedly happiest in our daily life when we report at least five positive interactions for each negative one. What’s your positive to negative ratio?
Try New Things Until You Find a Hobby You Enjoy
Your evening routine, while you were raising your kids, was probably a whirlwind of dinner, homework and after-school activities. But once the kids are gone, the evenings can seem to stretch out forever. Instead of simply sitting on the couch watching television, start trying some new activities. Take a class in a subject that interests you, learn the piano by following along with YouTube videos, or take a Yoga class.
Finding a hobby that interests you helps you cope with stress, brings meaning to your life, and can even connect you with new friends. You may not find something you enjoy right away but keep trying until you find the perfect fit for you.
Don’t Forget Self-Care
Any time of transition, whether it’s happy or sad, can be stressful. There are so many unknowns when your kids leave home: Will they be happy? Will they make good choices? What’s next for me now? It’s normal and understandable to occasionally feel overwhelmed.
If overwhelm strikes, take a moment for yourself and relax with some self-care. I like to engage in some cozy, hygge activities like lighting a scented candle and taking a long bath. I’ve even got a self-care kit that I reach for when life is just a bit too much. Recognizing when you need a break is one of the most important things you can learn about yourself.
I created an ebook with 10 days of journaling activities that helped me reconnect with my authentic self while I was trying to figure out what my next phase of life should look like. Some days have exercises designed to get to your deepest self while other days have fun quizzes to help you learn more about what makes you tick. At the end of the 10 days, you’ll have a deeper understanding of who you are and what makes you happy. You can download it for free!
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