Some of the happiest years of our lives are spent making a house a home. It’s a slow process that takes years and often decades. It’s the process of turning a shell of wood, brick and stone into a place of love and laughter, tears and tantrums, magic and memories. It’s where we watch our families grow from chuckling babies to adults with hopes, dreams and responsibilities of their own.
When our kids grow up and leave to go to college or start new families of their own then the dynamic of the family home can start to change. The space that was so necessary when it was shared with a whole family can seem cavernous if you’re suddenly left on your own. If you’ve been a single parent all these years then it can also mean that you’re left with more home than you can afford. Here are some ways you can beat those Empty Nest Syndrome blues, while saving some money to spend on the things that will make you happier.
Purge your possessions with a yard sale
As we get older we tend to accrue a lot of possessions for ourselves and our kids. As our kids grow up we find ourselves unwilling to part with all those old toys and baby clothes because they’re inextricably attached to treasured memories. But these memories can become compromised, even toxified because we start to associate them with loss which isn’t healthy. Removing clutter can be a useful way of giving yourself closure and embracing this new stage in your life. By all means, keep one or two things, but try to keep only that which is most precious. Throw a yard sale, or even put some of your kids’ childhood toys on ebay. You’d be astonished at what some of those old toys are worth. Just be sure you consult with your kids first as you may not know which items they’re most sentimentally attached to.
Downsizing: it may be the smartest move
When your kids were living at home but holding down some employment, then they may have paid you rent, board or upkeep upon which you’ve grown dependent. Without their assistance then you may be left with more house than you can afford. Plus, with retirement drawing nearer, the importance of savings is greater than ever. If this is the case then you may need to rethink your housing situation. You may be able to release some of the equity on your property if you have short term costs that need to be addresses but in many cases, downsizing may be a shrewd financial move. While you may miss your old home eventually, there are many glorious apartments in which you can enjoy this stage of your new life and splurge a little knowing that you have reduced rent, mortgage, taxes and utilities.
While an empty nest can be a saddening prospect for any parent, it’s a natural and inevitable event that should be celebrated. Be happy for your kids as they forge their own paths and find ways to reward yourself for being the person that put them on that path!