The Empty Nester’s Guide to Getting Unstuck 

 

When faced with a big life change, such as empty nesting or relocation, it’s quite common to feel unsure of who you are in this new place. Either your new place in life or new place where you live. This uncertainty is both normal and uncomfortable. It also makes this new chapter an ideal time to focus on yourself and what you want. I’m focusing here on empty nesting, although if you moved, this will benefit you, too.

Empty nesting is emotionally overwhelming, filled with grief, frustration and fear. Finding the motivation to leave your former “mom” life behind and fight through indifference and ambivalence can leave you feeling stuck instead of a sense of freedom. 

My husband and I became empty nesters 6 months ago. While my process was bumpy, there were 3 things that eased the transition. Below is the 3-part process that helped me move from the center of my kid’s life to the heart of my own and feel like myself again faster. 

Start by unplugging.

Unplugging from social media is a gift of more time. More time to focus on you. The longer you unplug, the better your ability to hear your inner voice. The voice that’s going to let you in on what it is YOU want. 

The time to unplug is different for everyone. It depends on your current phone habits, ranging from a few hours to a full week or more to reach your most inspired, focused self. When you quiet the noise and distractions, it becomes easier to go inward, connect and listen. 

Unplugging also prevents the inevitable scrolling through the lives of our friends and strangers. Yes, social media can be inspirational. But it’s not at all helpful once we start comparing our lives and homes to those of others. So, when you unplug, your voice, your intuition, will be able to guide you towards what you want more easily. 

Think about your why.

Empty nesting is a time for discovering renewed purpose. But before figuring out your purpose, it’s helpful to figure out your why. Why do you feel stuck? 

Aside from not feeling sure of who you are outside of mom, here are other reasons you might feel stuck. More free time is suddenly available and you might not be sure how to fill it. It’s possible you can’t quite visualize what this stage is going to look like and you’re used to having a plan. It’s been so long since you’re felt like your best self that you don’t really know what you’re passionate about that doesn’t involve your family. 

Whatever your reason, I want to repeat how normal it is to feel stuck in the midst of transition. You’re opening yourself up to something new while the unknowns of what lies ahead can cause fear and anxiety. 

Give yourself some space to figure out why you feel stuck. And when you discover your why, you’re also opening yourself up to discovering what it is you need most.  

Journal for Clarity

Journaling is a favorite way to work through my emotions and challenges, and figure out what I want. Writing connects us directly to our thoughts, and inner knowing. Writing by hand helps us slow down our thoughts. Which also gives us more time for observations, and helps to create a calmer environment, reducing stress and frustration.

What you write isn’t always going to make sense. The important thing is to write without judgement. I set a timer and aim for 10 minutes to start. Lean into your emotions. Acknowledging your feelings in detail helps you work through them. Journaling will also improve your overall mood. 

Make this a part of your daily routine to gain much needed clarity about what you want, as well as help keep your memory sharp, too. Journal prompts can be found here.  

Do 3 Things Every Day. 

Getting unstuck and feeling like yourself again requires action. Action that gets you out of your comfort zone, too. 

To start, create a master “to do” list. I make a new list weekly to keep it cleaner. My list includes fun activities and outings that add joy as well as errands and chores. 

Once you have a list, chose 3 things that you want or need to do. There will be days when you don’t get much done, and others that are more productive. Be kind to yourself, and accept the up and downs as a natural part of this process. Include 1 thing you enjoy each day, too.

As a big enthusiast for place attachment, also known as loving where you live, I like to include exploring a new place every week or two. 

Conclusion 

In order to get out of this overwhelm and embrace this new chapter, it’s crucial to keep moving forward, proactively. As an accountability partner and coach, I’m asking: 

What steps will you take to get started? 

And what 3 things will you do tomorrow? 

Ask a friend who can motivate you to try new things and get out of your comfort zone to be your accountability partner. Or if you need support, I’m a coach, encourager and excellent accountability partner. Click here for more information.     

 

How to Love Your Place

One of my favorite topics to coach is place attachment. Place attachment is the connection we have to the place where we live. It’s whether you love where you live, or not. Admittedly, loving where we live can be a challenge, whether we’ve moved recently, been in the same place for 7 years (me!) or your whole life. 

I enjoy listening to clients talk about their favorite places, where they used to go before they moved or in other towns: coffee shops, theatres, knitting stores, music festivals, and more. Then, I enthusiastically send them on a mission to explore their area and discover what’s around that’s maybe not the same but similar. When they discover something new and welcoming, I get to hear in their voice or read in a text joy that they discovered a new restaurant, for example, and their plans to go back. And then a wild joy sets in for me. 

So, let’s start small. Because this will hopefully bring you joy, too.

If you haven’t moved recently and struggle with loving your place, this is for you, too. 

Even if you’re unpacking and overwhelmed, do this anyway. It’s a simple formula.

Carve out time and call it self-care, because it is. Take a break, get out of the chaos, i.e. house, and explore. 

Start close to home, if you’d like, near your neighborhood and work your way out towards the center of town. Let’s move beyond running errands and do something that brings you more happiness than Target. Extra bonus points given if can walk or bike.  

Next, make a list of 3 to 5 places of interest that you’d like to check out. Which 1 can you visit in the next 3 days? Which 1 or 2 will you visit the following week? 

And then, visit each place. While there, pay attention to how you feel. Do you feel comfort and welcome? Is this a place you want to return? If it is then heck yes, go back next week or tomorrow. The more we re-visit the same place, see the same people, the more rooted and connected we begin to feel. 

If it isn’t, try another place. The time it takes to find your favorite places and feel acclimated is different for everyone and largely depends on how proactive you’re willing to be. 

Being in the in between is a good place to be.

You may be feeling the in between. Attached to your previous place while you’re new place feels very new. Add to that, not knowing anyone yet. Meeting people and establishing friendships takes time. This is a perfect time to connect with yourself, lean into emotions and explore hobbies. Get creative. Try something new.

For suggestions, Relocation Recovery is the online guide that helps you work through your emotions and start loving your place faster. It’s condensed and easy to navigate, affordable and fun. 

Melody Warnick, expert on place attachment and author of This Is Where You Belong, and I created Relocation Recovery because moving is hard and feeling calm, joy and rooted where we live is crucial.

Place Attachment

PlaceAttachment

Place attachment is the connection we have to the place where we live. The more attached we are, the harder it is to leave and relocate. And, once we have moved and settled into a new home, re-establishing place attachment is vital to a positive relocation.

The time it takes to feel acclimated to new surroundings is different for everyone. Place attachment has varied for me, from three months to four years. My outlook and actions through the entire process of moving determined whether the relocation would be positive and how quickly I felt acclimated. I learned a few things, including things I would do differently if we move again, about creating place attachment earlier and easier:

Grief and loneliness can be unavoidable and I would give myself the space to feel what I feel. l would keep in touch with friends, while limiting the time spent on social media. I do not need to see every single thing that I am missing out. Good friendships take time and I would give the universe a toast to that, and spend time taking care of myself.

Giving energy to the negative aspects creates added remorse and stress. For example, in order to spend less time commuting, we had to move closer to my husband’s office which was further away from the city. I can choose to focus on the positive, shorter commute and more time together in the evenings, rather than the negative for us, living further from an urban environment.

After the first week or two, I would carve out more time on the weekends to explore. Although I understand the importance of nesting and turning a house or apartment into a home, knocking myself out for a few weeks straight can be emotionally draining and exhausting. After living through the emotions and challenges of relocation more than once, I know that exploring and finding joy in a new city is necessary.

Looking for local businesses to support is a great way to attain place attachment faster. Not only am I looking for coffee shops, book stores and places to eat with great local craft beer (or whatever is on your list), I am on the hunt for our favorites, the ones we will frequent. Becoming a regular is a fantastic way to start feeling at home. I also enjoy traveling outside of our local area, looking for day trips and longer road trips throughout the state and region.

The biggest relocation mistake I made that impacted my ability to establish place attachment was focusing my time around in activities solely revolving around our son for the first few years. Volunteering and showing up for activities are important and a great way to meet other parents. However, I neglected myself and feeding my own soul. Please, I can’t express the importance of this enough. Find a knitting group, book and/or wine club, running group, whatever it is that fuels YOUR soul. Take time for yourself, even if you’re an introvert, to connect with your passion and people. Go, in person, locally, and do whatever lights you up. This turned out to be f*ing crucial in creating a bond to the place where I live, to finally feel like I am home. I should have done it much, much earlier.

I have learned to be gentle with myself through the process, before and after the move, to allow space to grieve and acknowledge my emotions and challenges. However, next time, I will get out of our nest sooner and focus on place attachment within the first few months. That big shift of feeling fully attached, the one that makes relocation absolutely enjoyable, may take a year or so to occur, and that’s okay, too, as long as I’m getting out and moving forward. Hopefully next time won’t be anytime soon because I am fully attached.

Place attachment can be the most challenging part about relocation, and it is different for everyone. However, it is completely, easily achievable and I get wild joy out of helping clients shorten the time it takes to feel attached and love their new home and town. If interested in connecting and learning more, please email me at marniunscripted@gmail.com. I would love to hear about your journey and challenges.

Embrace & Enjoy,

Marni

Embrace and Enjoy Relocation

Relocation is exhausting, energy draining. I learned the hard way, after moving twice in less than 3 ½ years, that it is vital to my wellbeing to find ways to embrace and enjoy the process of moving.

Let’s play the Would You Rather game for a moment.

Would you rather put move related tasks and ensuring that your family is acclimating well at the top of your priority list, at the risk of ignoring your own grief and anxiety? 

OR would you rather include your own emotional and self care needs on that list in order to create a much less stressful and enjoyable relocation?

When we moved the first time, my perspective regarding moving was good. It was also really hard leaving our home and friends after 11 years. This is the place where I met my husband and we started our family. We were settled and happy with our neighborhood and jobs, and the life we built around them. We were moving to a city much closer to family (1 ½ hours) for the first time, and in a neighborhood with friends around the corner. Both big pluses.

Putting more emphasis on the positive things about relocation allowed me to start connecting and embrace the move right away.

Our second move, 3 years 4 months later, took 4 years to feel settled and at home. One big change was that we moved further away from the heart of a city. I got really stuck on the fact that we live so far out and was not ready to move again so quickly. Looking back, I can clearly see that I prioritized the moving details and wellbeing of my family over taking care of myself and my emotions. That was a lot more comfortable than admitting I was grieving and anxious.

In hindsight, as a coach, I know that I should have done a much better job then, including establishing place attachment. I now fully understand both the difficulty and importance of addressing stress and fear, and taking care of our self while caring for the needs of others.

Focusing on the positive points about relocation, turning it into an adventure, if necessary, is a good first step to take.

Moving can happen too quickly in some cases. Regardless of timeframe, it is vital to take time out for ourselves, to work through emotions even when they are messy. Embracing relocation and creating a much less stressful, enjoyable experience involves taking care of yourself and developing strategies to address the challenges.

As a Relocation Coach, my priority is making sure you fully embrace and enjoy your relocation journey, and fully thrive, starting wherever you need the most support. If you or someone you know are in the process of moving, let’s connect.

To learn more about our self paced and affordable online course, read about it here or click on Relocation Recovery to go directly to the course.

For information regarding coaching and packages, please visit my coaching page.

Embrace and Enjoy, 

Marni