Empty Nest 1.0: That Feeling When All of Your Kids Are in School - and You're at Home

by ParentCo. August 22, 2016

In September, all three of my daughters will be in school for the same hours Monday through Friday. It will be the first of only two years in their lives where they will all be in the same school building and on the same schedule.

I can’t wait.

For me it means more productive work days – I’ll gain at least an hour at the end of every day not having to do two school pick-ups in two separate places.

But I’ve also been thinking about some of the other changes that are ahead.

I was a teacher for about a decade. During my teaching career all three of our children were born, and when they were little and we were home together all summer, it became harder and harder for me to switch back into school mode every September.

As they grew older and went to school themselves, there was a shared element of the back-to-school season and the September transition became less difficult. That’s what I convinced myself of, anyway.

Then I stopped teaching and began working from home. That presented me with a different type of end-of-summer blues as I watched my daughters go off to school, leaving me behind.

Except for Thursdays. For the past couple of years that I’ve been home my youngest daughter has been home with me on Thursdays. Some days she is content to play by herself and I can try to get some work done, but I know I’m not likely to get much done when she’s home.

So Thursday has been the day I’ve scheduled chores. Thursday is the day we've usually done our weekly trip to the grocery store. If there’s a birthday gift to buy or cards to send, Thursday is the day we’ll do it. Waiting in line at the post office isn’t so bad when you have a four-year-old to chat with. Sometimes we’ll sneak off to a playground or hang out in a coffee shop or walk through a toy store just because.

Now I’ll drop all three girls off at school every day and have the whole day to myself. Part of me will really enjoy that. But part of me will miss my once-weekly companion.

Maybe I’ll still go to the grocery store on Thursday. (That is the last day before the new weekly circular deals take effect, after all.) I could still run errands, but I don’t have to commit to any one day to do it. I’ll probably have to stop browsing the toy stores “just because.”

I guess it’s good practice for down the road when the girls move out and my wife and I become empty nesters. At least I’ll know next year that the nest will only be empty for about six hours every day before everyone comes back home. But I haven’t been thinking too much about next year yet.

For now, I’ve avoided scheduling anything on Thursdays since about mid-May. I’ve tried to take advantage of these last few Thursdays where it’s just me and my four-year-old. (I know she’ll be five soon, but I’ll hold onto four for as long as I can.)

I’ve watched her play. We’ve napped on the couch. We went to the grocery store. And one toy store.

This year we changed pre-schools to expose our daughter to a model that will more closely replicate the routines she can expect in kindergarten next year to ease her adjustment. It’s been great.

She’ll be fine.

But I'm not sure how long it will take me to adjust.



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