How to Enjoy Your Home as an Almost Empty Nester

We are quickly approaching that time when the nation’s college graduates cross the stage, get their diplomas, and turn their tassels from one side to the next. Maybe you find yourself in that position. You are the parent of a soon-to-be college grad looking forward to the next chapter in your child’s life. That makes you an ‘almost empty nester’.

One of our most popular services involves helping older parents downsize. Sometimes that involves coming alongside and assisting getting the kids off to college. We help decide what’s going to school and what’s going to storage, pack up the student’s room, and even transport possessions to school. Sometimes we even bring stuff home at the end of the school year.

Maybe you have a student who’s been living at home throughout his college years. Or perhaps your student went away for college, but now has plans to return home while she looks for a job. Both situations can make for uneasy circumstances as everyone involved is trying to navigate into that next stage of life.

Keeping the Bedroom as Is

Any plans for a child to return home after graduation dictates keeping the child’s bedroom as is. You might have big plans for that bedroom space, but you have to put them on hold until your child finally makes a clean break. Don’t sweat it. That day will come. In the meantime, relish the time you have with your child at home.

We have worked with clients who collaborated with their adult children to figure out how bedroom space would eventually be used. That old joke about turning the kid’s bedroom into a home theater or an office are not that far off. Then again, some parents just turn the child’s bedroom into a guest bedroom. That way they always have space on hand for visitors.

Giving the Bedroom Back

We have also worked with clients who had already taken over a child’s bedroom with the expectation that the child would immediately launch upon graduation, only to discover that launching would be delayed. This is a tough situation because you find yourself having to give the bedroom back – at least temporarily.

Again, don’t sweat it. Giving the bedroom back temporarily is a minor inconvenience when you remember that the space will again be vacant at some point. You may have to put a few things in storage for a few months or so; it’s not a big deal.

Utilizing Shared Spaces

It has been our experience that the toughest part about being an almost empty nester is handling how shared spaces are used. Bedrooms are pretty simple compared to coming to an understanding about how adult children can use kitchens, dining rooms, home theaters, etc.

An adult child graduating from college is still an adult even if he or she has to live at home for a while. There are going to be times when that child wants to entertain. There are also going to be different schedules between child and parent. Maybe the child prefers to stay up late while mom and dad hit the sack before the evening news.

Meals can be another area of contention. Mom and dad might have regular mealtimes while the child tends to randomly come and go. The secret to managing all of this is clear and open communication. Make sure you are up front about your expectations from the onset. At the same time, be willing to show some flexibility.

When the time finally does come for junior to launch, we will be here to help you implement your plans – whatever they are. If you are planning to downsize, we can assist you with every phase. Maybe you just want to clean up the house and remodel a bit. We can help with that too. Whatever you do, just don’t stress over it. Enjoy the time you have as almost empty nesters. It will not last forever.

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