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Top 5 Empty Nest Activities

The kids are gone, and you're left holding the (now shockingly lightweight) laundry bag. It's time to embrace your new life as your progeny create their own independent lives.

Here are five ways to get back to you.

1. Location, Location, Location

Time to stop checking real estate sites for condos situated near your child’s new college. Doubtless he or she loves an occasional visit from mom, but it doesn’t mean your child would enjoy you randomly popping over to the dorms bearing snacks and good cheer at odd hours of the day and night. In fact, your child is probably old enough to get his own snacks. If you really are hooked on real estate websites, why not see what’s available in an area where you (and possibly your significant other) might want to eventually retire? This is your life, after all.

RELATED: Selling the Family House

2. GPS Yourself

Instead of tracking your child around campus via GPS (yes, parents are really doing this), why not put that GPS to less, err, obsessive use? Say, on the Appalachian Trail, or sailing across the Atlantic. I know it’s a really cool app, and it must be fascinating to watch the little dot that is your child walking from the poli sci building to the library. But has it occurred to you that your kid might be handing his phone off to his studious friend who will be going to study hall for three hours while he gets high with his other pals? Mom, trust your young scholar to know where he’s going, and to make his own wise choices.

It’s time to take down the dinosaur posters and dismantle the pirate ship diorama.

3. Meet Your Other Half

Reacquaint yourself with that person who sits across from you most evenings around the dinner hour. If you and your spouse haven’t had many conversations in the last 18 years that didn’t revolve around the children, it could be time to see if you have anything else to talk about. Perhaps you could chat about what the two of you are going to do now that the kids are out of the house. If one of you is interested in traveling the world, and the other is looking forward to some quiet time in front of the television, now would be a good time to sort all that out.

RELATED: Wisdom From the Empty Nest

4. Redecorate

It’s time to take down the dinosaur posters and dismantle the pirate ship diorama that’s been collecting dust in your child’s old bedroom for the past 12 years. Sure, he’ll be home for winter break, spring break, Thanksgiving and possibly President’s Day. But you’ll have a few months in between school holidays to turn his room into a sweet little guest room/den/sewing & crafts nook/napping cove/rumpus room/meditation chamber. Paint the walls, move some furniture, reimagine the space. It’s all yours! Do warn your child before he brings home a group of friends to his formerly groovy pad, so he’s not too startled by the coral pink ceiling, scented candles and yoga mats.

RELATED: The Not-So-Empty Nest

5. Dare to Dream

If you don’t have the time—or the means, at the moment—to trot off to the Amalfi Coast or cruise the Norwegian Fjords, take this time to plan. Sometimes planning the trip is more fun than actually taking the trip. So make a couple of exotic cocktails after work some evening, and start writing down travel ideas in a blank journal. Save photos that you come across on the Internet. Make a list of places you want to visit, or things you want to see. Dream, imagine and plan. Plan ahead, and you might find your trip will cost a lot less than you thought it would.

Do you have plans for your empty nest?

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