Are you ready for an empty nest? (Steps to prepare for it)

Are you ready for an empty nest? (Steps to prepare for it)

Jun 21, 2023

Like some of our friends, my husband and I are already empty nesters. Some of you may be headed there. In a recent viber exchange I had with a co-parent, I was asked to write about empty nesting. I have written about it years ago, but it’s worth discussing it again.

Empty Nest Syndrome is the feeling of loneliness that parents may feel when their children leave home to either start college away from home or start living on their own. It is not a clinical condition and is sometimes loosely used as an expression to say that the kids have left home, but a lot of empty nesters are left feeling lonely in this stage.

It’s important that we prepare for this stage because being unprepared may lead to sense of loss, depression, alcoholism, identity crisis, marital conflicts, etc. Looking back, I wish to share some of the things that helped me and my husband prepare for this interesting stage.  Although a lot of the items below are for married couples, some are applicable to single parents.

1. FriDates with spouse and other FrienDates. My husband and I started doing our regular FriDates early during our marriage, thanks to a parenting talk, I learned that leaving your children home to go on regular dates with your spouse is nothing to be guilty about but is in fact, an essential ingredient to good parenting. We chose Friday because on that day I didn’t have to tutor the boys and Friday afternoon after school was the start of their free weekend – i.e. free to watch TV and play with their video games – making Papa and Mama’s absence during dinner not a big deal. I’m writing this fresh from last night’s date by the Manila Bay where we used to watch sunset as young sweethearts.

On top of that, go out with your friends. During our sons’ growing up years, I always ended up appreciating them more after I went out with my friends. You get to share experiences and see things from other perspectives making you a better parent and person in general.   

2. Separate Bedrooms. When we built our house after five years of being married, we took it as an opportunity to tell them that they had to sleep in their own room, not in their parents’ room anymore. Those were the years when our young sons loved to sleep with Papa and Mama and it was also difficult for us to let them go but we thought it was an important part of parenting and nurturing our marriage. Marvin and I needed alone time every night to reconnect and talk without the usual interruptions of three energetic boys. But we also had what we called “den nights” when we would set up mattresses on the floor of our den on weekend nights, watch a movie together, then sleep together. This was also a special treat to the boys. Later on when they grew older, I felt it was more of a treat for mom!

3. Continue to develop yourself. I decided to be a full-time mom in my late 20s but I continued to have projects on the side. It could be as simple as helping my mom prepare for their wedding anniversary, or attending photography, fine arts, writing classes, different workshops, or getting into a business with friends, and reading a lot. I never stopped feeding myself with self-development activities because I felt I owed it to the boys and myself to be the best version of myself. Somehow, all these activities didn’t just help me parent them well but also prepared me to have something to do when they stopped needing my focused and undivided attention.

4. Your next purpose. Our kids grow up fast. Before I knew it, they were all taller than me and my husband. While your kids are growing up, prepare for your next purpose. This is especially true for full-time mothers. That is why No. 3 is very important and getting yourself occupied while they are in school should not just be about ballroom dancing, zumba, massages, salon, shopping and the like. I’m not saying you should not engage in these activities and other hobbies. Just don’t limit your activities to them. Find something that has a purpose beyond self-gratification, beyond your immediate family. You see, once you find your next purpose, letting go of your children will not be as hard.

5. Agree on meet-ups and call times. We experienced sending off our children to study abroad, away from home as early as grade school.  The longest was their one semester abroad. In order to set expectations, we agreed on call times which was at least once a week. Since October 2022, all three sons have been out of our home and our regular get-together has been Sunday mass and family lunch. Various digital means of communication have also been helpful in keeping us in touch.

6. Agree on the nest departure dates of your “chicks.” Have an agreed upon time when your “chicks” (your children) should leave home. In our case, it’s a certain age, or when they want to, or when they get married, whichever comes first. This way, you not only prepare them to be independent, but you also prepare yourself psychologically for that healthy parting of ways.

7. Be a good company. I took mental notes of what made each son enjoy our company. I imagined and hoped that when they’d be busy with their respective families and careers, it wouldn’t be hard for them to hang out with their old folks. Aside from having our regular Sundays, I want them to call me and say, “Hey, are you free to have lunch?” And I guess, that would be easier for them to do if I’d still be a fun person to be with. This is again connected to no. 3.

8. Do crazy things or learn new things with your spouse. When you’re not preoccupied with child rearing anymore, you can just pack up and go wherever you want, whenever you want it. Marvin and I call it “Tanan tayo!” (“Let’s elope!”) Use this time as your chance to do things at the spur of the moment guiltlessly because no kid will be left home sad. We’ve tried tap dance lessons together. Taking voice lessons together is also in our list.

9. Continue to dream big. Pursue huge dreams together. If you don’t have a partner, still pursue that crazy dream of yours, no matter how old you are. It’s what will keep you excited each day. Whether you attain your dream or not is beside the point because the primary purpose of setting a goal and pursuing your dream is to set you in motion every single day. This is a much better alternative than just being worried about your illnesses as you grow old.

10. Take care of your health. Health is indeed wealth. Have the right mindset and expectations about your body. If you do your annual check-up, bear in mind that you’re not spring chicken anymore so don’t expect to see the vital signs of a 25 year old! And when you talk to your children, maybe just give them a brief update on this in a not so dramatic tone if there’s no life-threatening findings anyway, then discuss other interesting topics. Don’t let your medical concerns monopolize the conversations.

11. Have your dream home as your physical empty nest. What is your dream home? Do you want to live in a home where you feel like you’re always on vacation? What are the things that you always want to do? Make your home conducive to doing them. And remember, one’s dream home is not always an expensive mansion that needs a fleet of household staff to maintain, like what you see on your Instagram feeds. Figure out what yours is and start working on it.

12. Have a High FQ. Of course, all of the above can be done more easily if you lived a high FQ life while your children were growing up. If you did, both you and your children would have healthy balance sheets when the time comes. This would make it easier for them to go and for you to let go. It will be easier for you to just pack up and go on your tanans, indulge in your hobbies, pursue your dreams, do crazy things, take care of your health, and most of all, spoil your grandchildren in the future! This way, if your own children will be too busy or lazy to visit you, you have your grandchildren to nag them to go see lolo and lola!

It is in preparing well for empty nesting that you’ll find your “chicks and your grandchicks” coming back to your happy empty nest, making it not so empty after all.



  1. An important step to happy empty nesting is developing a high FQ. Where are you in the journey now, take the FQ Test to find out. Click here.
  2. Grab your copy of the FQ Books, click here.

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