When the Nest Empties: What I’ve Learned About Letting Go and Planning Ahead
When the Nest Empties: What I’ve Learned About Letting Go and Planning Ahead

Spring is typically thought of as the season for new beginnings, but this fall looks like it will also bring a lot of change for us at McKenzie: Mill Ridge Farms at Brooks Park is in development, Chatham Hills is coming up soon, and Jackson’s Grant is starting this fall, too. We’ve also added Scott Uebele as our team’s newest Sales Representative. And I’m getting ready to embark on my own empty-nester adventure.

My youngest is a senior in high school this year, so as she’s making plans for where to go to school next year, Jill and I are beginning to talk about what we’re going to do next. Do we want to stay in our current home and invest more money in it? Or are we ready for a new adventure in a new home?

For the last twenty-five years, I’ve been building homes for people in the empty-nester stage, and I’ve learned to understand the challenges and emotions that come along with it. There’s a period of letting go that comes first. After nearly two decades of always being right there, parents can feel bittersweet emotions when they see an empty bedroom. At the same time, it’s a proud moment to see them grow and start to do their own thing. You get these moments where you realize they’re doing okay. They really were listening!

Then it dawns on you that you have a lot more time. Jill’s excited she’s got time to do things she previously had to put on the shelf. I get to focus on my business and enjoy more time with Jill. After eighteen or more years of parenting, it’s an unusual feeling to shed those responsibilities. It’s like being a kid again, running out to play with your buddies who are in the same stage of life. Empty-nester neighborhoods bring people like that together, and they tend to draw in a very active and social community.

With all our newfound free time, Jill and I are asking ourselves how much energy do we want to invest in our home, and how much space do we really need to maintain. I don’t want to get too small, because we want the kids to feel free to come back and bring their friends. But at some point, we know they won’t be back every summer. They’ll get married, have kids, and it then becomes a question of what kind of place can accommodate everybody for one week a couple times a year.

By far, the best thing we can do as soon-to-be empty-nesters is to start talking about it early. With so many possibilities out there, Jill might be thinking one thing, while I might be thinking another, and we want to involve our kids to a certain degree. It’s not a slam-dunk decision we can make in a day. Like many empty-nesters, we’re at a point in life when it’s simply unwise to spend a whole lot of time and resources moving around or making a mistake with what we have.

We’ll see how the girls’ lives take shape in the next year. Meagan is thinking about working in another city next summer or studying abroad, and Molly is considering a number of out-of-state colleges. Meanwhile, Jill and I will take advantage of this transition time to experience some new places and determine where our next adventure is headed.

Trying to figure out your next adventure, too? Be sure to visit Mill Ridge Farms, Chatham Hills, and Jackson’s Grant and see which one is just right for you.

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