Things I Wish I Knew about an Emptier Nest

Things I wish I knew about an emptier next

If I do say so myself – our speaker series is ON FIRE!! Last week our featured speaker was Ann Douglas, who spoke on “Things I wish I knew about an Emptier Nest!”

Wow – Ann was a wealth of information and we loved having her speak to our community of “40 – somethings” about all things empty nesting!

If you are not familiar with Ann – she is a Canadian parenting expert – author of many fantastic books on parenting – most notably “Happy Parents, Happy Kids” and “Parenting Through the Storm.” Her calm measured approach to parenting is both reassuring and inspiring and we were spoiled with her knowledge last week.

Things I wish I knew about an emptier nest - Ann Douglas

Typically, we try and do a little synopsis of our evening on the blog – so those of you who missed it can get a quick re-cap here on Mojo and Moxie. BUT – as you know, Ann is an amazing writer – and her talk was based on two blog posts from her own blog. So rather than do a repeat performance (that would no doubt be poorly written in comparison!!) I want to share with you three things that Danni and I took away from this talk personally. And of course, links are available to Ann’s posts below… 🙂

We love hearing all your comments on Facebook on what your “take-aways” were – so here are our thoughts on Things I wish I knew about an Emptier Nest.

Three Things we Learned from Ann

It’s OK to feel GOOD about your EMPTY NEST – and even love it just a little (!!)

Things I wish I knew about an emptier nest - celebrating the empty nest

I chuckled when Ann spoke about feeling guilty about enjoying your empty nest. Now, while this doesn’t apply to me completely (I still have two very much at home, and the one that’s left the nest comes back every summer…) this totally resonated with me.

While I certainly felt the absence of our first child’s departure for university in another city – and I had moments of sadness – I really felt so good about his decision. I knew he was ready for this next step and I took it in stride.

Now at the end of his third year, I am consistently thrilled with his gradual pulling away and increasing independence. Sometimes I feel guilty about this – like it means I don’t love him as much as my husband (who struggles with it more than I do). But listening to Ann helped ease my worry.

I feel like I just recognize that he is progressing so smoothly through the first stages of adulthood and to be honest, I’m quite proud and relieved at how well he is handling life.

Ann’s comments on feeling positive and good about enjoying your empty nest and about how our job as parents is to prepare our kids for their eventual independence, struck a chord with me. I know our son has a deep rooted love for family. I know that if he is ever in trouble, needs advice, or even cooking tips we are still first on the list without a doubt. He loves us, but needs us differently now.

I take great satisfaction in watching him mature, that his own values are rooted in things we have instilled in him, and that each year he becomes more capable to handle things on his own.

This has helped me let go and let him fly – and I don’t feel one bit of guilt enjoying life without him with us at every moment.

As Ann so eloquently told us – family is forever and our love is unconditional as parents. My greatest pleasure and relief is recognizing that our son knows this and for him, his foray into adulthood is right on track.

Read Getting your Teen Ready for University – HERE

Thank you ANN – this led to great conversation with my husband about letting go and feeling good about it.

It’s OK to have your Young Adult Pick an Alternative Path (especially now)

Fork in the road - things I wish I knew about an emptier nest

We are inundated with the “path” the way it is “supposed” to be for our young adults. High school, then post secondary, then job, and family, right?

Well – if this pandemic has shown us anything, it is that sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. And sometimes we need to make choices that are difficult but protect our sanity!

Ann spoke about how our current situation is changing family dynamics – teens and young adults perhaps being either forced to return home, or to forego / delay their first year of post secondary or missing out on huge milestones altogether. No doubt, this is a difficult time, but Ann suggests we have some grace – with both our kids and ourselves.

I know Danni expressed to me that it was agony for her kids to participate in online learning this year. The struggle caused a lot of angst in their household and in the end, they decided as a family, that life would run a lot smoother if the kids decided to delay their studies until things resumed in person.

Hard decision – yes. BUT – Ann says we need to know that supporting our kids through crisis and accepting that every young adult and every situation is different – not better or worse – but different, will help us through this uncomfortable time.

The best thing we can do is support our young adult’s decisions, encourage them even when we struggle with our own doubts and misplaced sense of guilt. I know I totally over-think things as a parent. I fill my mind with the “what if’s” and other worries. Our kids will make their way and we just need to love them through it.

Check out our post on Taking a Gap Year HERE

It’s OK to not be perfect – in fact you should be “Gloriously Imperfect”

Things I wish I knew about an emptier nest - perfectly imperfect

How many times have I tried to have a conversation with one of my teens only, to have it go tremendously wrong in the first 30 seconds.

Well – I don’t have to tell you it’s happened a LOT – especially these days! And man do I feel down in the dumps about it.

While I know I am not responsible for the entire conversation, I am responsible for my half… and wow did we really just go there???

Yup – a question I ask myself virtually every day while parenting three kids ages16 – 21.

I think at times we lose track of the fact that we just can’t be perfect parents, and we really berate ourselves over our missteps, because we want to be better for our kids. We want to be as perfect as we can be. And while I recognize perfect is not possible, sometimes we need someone to tell us to just let that shit go!

Ann spoke to us about giving ourselves permission to be a gloriously imperfect parent – which also means we need to recognize and accept that our kids are going to be gloriously imperfect too!

Ann gave us three things that should guide us in our parenting:

  • We need to provide unconditional love and approval
  • We need to be warm, sensitive and responsive
  • We need to support their growing independence and emerging abilities

I learned that I need to stop being so hard on myself AND my child. I need to work within the guidelines above – knowing that sometimes my attempt at these things may be thwarted by either imperfect words or actions and that can still be ok.

Ann tells us to focus on PROGRESS and not PERFECTION!

I’m currently a work in progress… 🙂

So – the one thing I can say about parenting older children, is that it is (for the most part) a joy to watch them grow up, and become amazing adults.

And, the other thing I can say is, that there is always something to learn!

Thank you Ann for providing us an evening of food for thought.

FIND ANN’s Blog Posts on Parenting an Empty Nest here:



As always – we invite you to comment below – or join our Facebook Group for lively conversation and a great community of like-minded 40-something moms – where you can also view our chat with Ann for yourself!

mojo and moxie



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