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    Signs you're not yet used to an empty nest

    My nest is empty once again, now that Brianna has moved into her new house. Jim and I were here once before, for a very brief period of time when Andrea and Megan were away at college and Brianna lived with some girlfriends.

    Then Brianna moved home. And Andrea needed time to figure out her next move after college graduation.

    But now with Megan married, Andrea fully ensconced in the life of a single, independent woman and Brianna settled into her new place, the nest is once again empty.

    And this time I think it's for good.

    And I'm having a little trouble getting used to it. Not emotionally -- I'm thrilled the girls are out on their own and succeeding as adults. It's the smaller habits of a full household that I've not yet been able to break, little things here and there that as I do them, I realize I'm not yet used to an empty nest.

    I've started a list of those little things I've noticed myself and other empty nesters I know doing, the signs that we've not yet adjusted to the kids being gone. If you have an empty nest, let me know the signs you've noticed, the habits you're trying to break. And you younger folks -- you whippersnappers whose parents are still trying to get used to life without you (no matter how long it's been!) -- now's your chance to vent about the wacky ways of your empty-nesting mom and dad.


    • You still lock the bathroom door because it's always been the only place you could get a little privacy.
    • You have stacks of empty shoe boxes you can't get rid of because you never know when one of the kids may need one for a school project.
    • You throw away lots of fruit and vegetables each week, as you're unable to eat all the apples, oranges, kiwi, carrots and bananas that have been a staple of your weekly shopping trip for years.
    • Or your freezer is overfilled with frozen black bananas you've saved for making banana bread instead of throwing them away.
    • Your freezer is also packed with loaves of frozen banana bread because you have used some of the bananas already.
    • You still have a file folder of crafts and recipes you've torn out of magazines that you never got around to doing with the kids. But you keep the folder -- and continue adding to it -- because now your plan is to eventually use them with the grandkids.
    • You still buy the same number of rolls of toilet paper you have for the past 20 years and now have enough on hand to stock the bathrooms of all your kids ... and your neighbors ... and their kids.
    • Same goes for tampons.
    • You find yourself dumping out gallons of spoiled milk on a regular basis because it just doesn't feel right to buy the half-gallon containers.
    • You catch yourself saying, "Keep it down ... the kids will hear you" in the middle of arguments.
    • And in the bedroom.
    • You make three times the amount of dinner you and your spouse will eat.
    • Which means you have quart-size baggies of  comfort foods -- chili, crockpot soup and sausage gravy -- stacked in between the mountains of bananas in the freezer.
    • Which also means you have very little room left for the frozen pizzas, burritos, Hot Pockets and other favorites of the kids that you still habitually fill your shopping your cart with.
    • You've found you kind of like the taste of Cocoa Puffs and Fruit Snacks since the cupboard looks bare without them.
    • You pull curtains, sheets off unused beds, rugs, throws and more to wash each week as the three loads of laundry created by you and your husband don't a laundry day make.
    • Once you settle into bed at night you realize you forgot to shut off the hall light, the light you always left on so the kids would get safely to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
    • Same goes for the porch light, but you decide to leave it on ... just in case one of the kids decides to come home in the middle of the night. In need of some comfort food. Which they know they'll find in the freezer. Right next to the bananas.

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    Reader Comments (13)

    You can slice up those bananas before you freeze them. They go great in smoothies. :)

    Nice post, Lisa. I wouldn't be too sure about that "for good" statement. Kids always seem to come home for some reason. ;)

    February 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPam

    I am having the opposite problem...more kids keep coming and I can't make enough dinner! ;0/

    February 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTracey of Nine Acres

    Pam: Good tip for the bananas. And no, those girls are NOT moving back home! Maybe I should change the locks, just to be safe.

    Tracey: Too funny! I can explain to you how that keeps happening, if you'd like. :o)

    February 1, 2010 | Registered CommenterLisa Carpenter

    We've been empty nesters for 5 years now and I've done all of the above! I love when they come visit for a weekend and I'm soooo glad when they go home, even though I miss them like crazy!

    February 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette

    I never had a chance to be an empty nester. After the last one moved out, I quickly became a grandmother. Now I am taking care of the grandkids 4 days a week/12 hours a day. So all those crafts I planned on doing when I retire are still in storage. So now I am basically raising another family. I'm not complaining, since I feel I am blessed and this is my purpose right now.
    I feel the kids need me and as long as I am healthy, I will help them out. Family has always been the most important calling in my life. God Bless

    February 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergrannydaycare

    Awww My kids are now all in their teens; and sometimes, when they all have their own adventures, I get left in the house, which actually I love :)

    February 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhypermom

    soo funny! I really enjoyed reading this

    February 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie Himel

    HAHA!!! I'm the mom of 3 under 4, hoping for a 4th soon. I laughed through your whole list! And I have a rebuff or two, just for silliness:

    I have not gone to the bathroom by myself since my daughter was born nearly 5 years ago

    OMG, I have been collecting magazine pages for years now, easy halloween costumes, treats, do it yourself projects that would be soooo cute in my girl's rooms, etc. And it is over flowing...are you saying that I should STOP???? IT's an addiction!!! I don't know if i CAN stop!!!

    LOL- I'm following you from MBC! Love the blog!!!

    February 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbrae

    That is a really cute post! I smiled and laughed - and identified! - throughout the entire story! My 3 daughters are married now and live close by, and its been over 3 years since it's just me and grandpa, so I don't recall those initial habits anymore. But I LOVE the extra space their bedrooms give me! One I used as an initial refuge for the 3 feral cats we took in and are now our own. Another is piled high with future Christmas and birthday gifts, and a third will become a nursery-playroom for grand babies when they visit. Sometimes I miss the crazy fun of every day teenage activity - but mostly I like what I have now!

    August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

    What a great post and list! I love reading your old posts -- the house is still empty! Yeah! Did you change the locks??

    I don't remember much about how I felt when Jenna left home -- I may have blocked it all out -- but I will add that even though she has been gone for 10 years she still feels strongly that I should always have half & half in the frig for her coffee (even though we don't use it) and there should always be at least one cold sugar free Vernor's for in the frig. And there usually is!

    August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma Kc

    Once upon a time I use to have an empty nest, then along came our beautiful granddaughter Lucy to raise. Sometimes I would love to have an empty nest, however Lucy brings so much joy and happiness into our lives that really wouldn't swap it for the world.

    August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSally Kabak

    Good list. Lots of truth packed in there, amid the bananas.

    August 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie Noland

    This is too funny Lisa. We've had our twenty-somethings in and out a few times. And now there are still two at home. It's great to read what we have to look forward to. Thanks for sharing.

    August 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRenee Spindle

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