All of life is a gift and this season is no exception.

How to Thrive After Your Kids Leave Home

The number of plates on my dining room table had been a constant so dependable that I could set the table on auto-pilot. Often the number would swell to account for guests or shrink when one of us was visiting elsewhere. However, the ebb and flow always had a fixed point of return–until it didn’t.

What began as a slow trickle swelled to a flood of movement toward the door–at least that’s how it felt to me, standing still in my kitchen, holding a stack of blue and tan Pfaltzgraff and wondering how many forks to retrieve from the silverware drawer.

Jill Savage has stood in that same space, working herself out of a job, and then standing in the driveway to wave goodbye as her own full nest emptied. In Empty Nest, Full Life: Discovering God’s Best for Your Next, she offers the gift of her story and the encouragement of gathered wisdom. The comings and goings of a growing family felt, to her, like a roller coaster ride as she rejoiced over her increased freedom but still longed for the warm presence of the people who had always consumed her time and resources.

With my youngest son winding into the second half of his senior year, I can’t think of a better time for this book to have crossed my path. If you, too, are in  transition, seeking to discern God’s best for what’s next, Savage offers a place to start and a roadmap paved with hope.

Do Your Work

For Jill, navigating this new path involved counseling, soul searching, and a serious reassessment of the lens through which she had beeen viewing the world. Rooting out lies with the shovel of truth is a great beginning.
Are you convinced you can only be happy if your home is fully populated by your children?
God says your joy comes from him!
Are you afraid you are not smart enough to pursue meaningful activities outside your home?
God says you have the mind of Christ, and he will instruct you.

Let Go!

It’s not just the eight passenger mini-van and the pile of mismatched socks that can go. As you learn to thrive after your kids leave home, you are moving toward freedom from many long-standing expectations and time consuming traditions.

And, like it or not, once our kids take flight, we are observers from a place outside the center of their lives. We may get the memo about the new earring, the creative hair color, and the decision about facial hair or finances at the same time as the rest of the world. Our kids may not call when you think they should, so let me caution you that I’ve watched this sort of mother/daughter stand off from a distance with neither party willing to go first. And it did not end well.

It’s fascinating to watch the dynamics of the parent/child relationship change. One of the biggest surprises from our sons’ perspective came when we (who were simply full of opinions when their lives were our responsibility) began to step over the line into an advisory role as our kids reached independence and adulthood. The glorious truth is that along with our waning authority, we are also poised to let go of the idols of control, good behavior, and our narrow definitions of success.

Hold On!

When I was teaching four math lessons a day and shuttling kids to music and sports, there was no way I could have boarded a plane and spent a weekend teaching women hundreds of miles down the east coast. However, one almost-grown-up son can get by without me for a day or two as long as his dad is handy. As children leave the nest, all that letting-go frees our minds and our hands for new pursuits. I miss my kids, and it looks as if I’ll never master the art of making less than six quarts of soup, spaghetti, or American chop suey, but those quiet dinners of leftovers enjoyed alone with my husband in peace and quiet aren’t a bad consolation prize.

Therefore, I’ll hold on to new opportunities to minister to people outside my home circle. I’ll hold on to the freedom to weed my garden without a baby monitor nearby, to meet friends for coffee once in a while, to work on my writing craft, to send a half hour making notes on the thirty “I Will’s” in the book of Hosea while my second cup of tea cools.

I’m holding on to the small hands of grandchildren who love to come to Bam’s house where we paint, dig in the garden, read stories, and bake cookies together. All of life is a gift and this season is no exception. While the steps are unfamiliar to me at this point, I’m discovering a certain excitement as I look around me at this empty-ing nest and see the wide open spaces of God’s good plans for the future.


Many thanks to Moody Publishers for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

Grace and peace to you,

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase Empty Nest, Full Life: Discovering God’s Best for Your Next, simply click on the title within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Photo by Christophe Laurenceau on Unsplash

39 thoughts on “How to Thrive After Your Kids Leave Home”

  1. This sounds like a wonderful and encouraging book. While it is hard to have our homes empty out a bit, it doesn’t mean our lives are empty. It means the Lord is moving us into new opportunities to serve Him.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said Michele. As you know, my nest is empty and the grandchildren trickle in and out. It is a season I am so happy to be in as they bring us so much joy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am a little bit further down the road than you, Michele. When I first became an empty-nester, I was sad for about 10 minutes. Then Bill and I found some of the joys of freedom, as you described, and we have been enjoying our new life ever since. I can see why your grands love to come to your house! Painting, baking, digging, and reading sounds like fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love reading this so much, Michele. It’s been fun watching you already be able to take advantage of new opportunities with fewer homeschool responsibilities. I remember how it inched up with me too. It was scary at times, but also very exciting! I know God will continue to use you at all the stages of life in amazing ways because you allow him to.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I was most impacted by the exit of our second child (out of three) and only daughter when she left for college–over a thousand miles away. But it wasn’t long before additional opportunities to serve at church (on praise team and drama team) presented themselves. Less responsibility at home allowed me to participate–and I loved it. Praise God he doesn’t leave us mother birds to flounder when the fledglings take flight!

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  6. It’s such a strange mixture of feelings. I can remember when the time was approaching for the first one to go, I couldn’t imagine not being as intimately involved with every detail of his life as I had been for 22 years. I thought there would be such a big hole in my life. Yet I knew it was necessary for him to take steps toward adulting. And I have reveled in that sense of freedom you mentioned. I tend to cook the same amounts, too, because I love leftovers for lunch. Since my husband works from home many days, he helps clean them up, too.

    There’s also joy in seeing your kids successfully take steps toward maturity and self-reliance (hopefully under the wing of reliance on God). And grandkids–they may be the biggest joy of all. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Michele, I heard Jill Savage speak last summer and enjoyed her very much. Some of us spent our youth dreaming marrying and starting a family. Not sure we dreamed of releasing our children. Mine left for several years and came back. I had to adjust both times and found pleasure in both.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Witnessing this transition and season of life fascinates me- it also encourages me as a young married unlikely to have kids. Thanks for sharing these bits of wisdom and insight, sounds like a great book!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yep… your world should never revolve around your kids because they have their own world to discover. I love this reminder to focus on the people around you that needs attention & direction too.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Beautiful, Michele. And Jill’s book sounds amazing. I read Beth Moore’s book years ago, “Feathers from my Nest” just to try to prepare ahead of time. I love the thoughts about holding on to new opportunities like ministering to others and holding on to grandbabies hands.

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  11. It sounds like another great book to put on my list. I had fun reading through the comments. I am the mom who let my kids go and welcomed them back home several times. I am really in the empty nest season of life now. I like it but sometimes wonder if I am doing all that God has planned for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love my empty nest Michele. We always knew our children would leave to go to the city to universtity, so we prepared them to be independent and were happy to launch them when the time came. There’s always adjustments, but it’s been fairly smooth for us and as much as I’d like them to live nearby (especially so I could see my grandgirls more often!) they’re only a couple of hours drive away and they’re thriving in their work and marriages – I couldn’t ask for more than that.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This sounds like a great book.I had a struggle when my girls flew the nest, but I am getting better at finding myself. It took some getting used to.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. MM, when my youngest flew the nest, I had had kids under our roof for 27 years and man, it was hard. But it was only hard for a year! Then I realized how blessed we were to have three adult kids all independent and doing well. xo SS

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  15. Letting go is a challenge that is equal to, or more challenging, parenting itself. Allowing children to navigate their own way, make decisions, and sometimes fail, can be very hard. All of this is going on in my house, at the moment. Good times and tough times, all in one. Thanks for linking up.

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  16. I am twenty years, this year, further along the empty nester path since my youngest daughter flew the coop. It has been an interesting, enjoyable & yes, at times challenging!
    God has His plan for our lives & it’s all about His refining in every season!
    Bless you,
    Jennifer

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  17. Although I was saddened when I dropped my youngest off at college, as you said there are some positives. Having time to pursue my hobbies has been one of those for me! Thanks for sharing with us at The Blogger’s Pit Stop!

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  18. I do love Jill’s heart and her decades of mothering wisdom, Michele! She’s even allowed me to ask her a perplexing writing question over the phone, no less! Not many authors give such free time and advice to bloggers! But I also can so relate to the season of life that you and she are writing about. It’s a difficult shift but one that I’m starting to get the handle of … until I don’t! Lol! I do wish I lived closer to my one grandbaby! Enjoy those up close and personal times with your grandkiddos coming to visit, my friend! Sweet times that off-set the bittersweet! Pinning this for sure!

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    1. So great that you have made that connection, Beth! And I AM SO GRATEFUL for my grands near by. In April when #3 is born in far away Coloroado, we’re going to learn the bittersweet life of grandparenting from a distance.

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  19. Sounds like a great book indeed! My two children have been gone for quite a few years now, but one of the things I have discovered is that each new season has a richness to it and opportunities for new discoveries and things the Lord wants to show us. I loved parenting so much that initially it was very hard when each child (encouraged by us to follow their dreams) ended up moving hundreds of miles away in different directions after college graduation, but then the Lord nudged me to look at passions and gifts set aside while I was actively parenting. Though I still miss them and now those grandchildren they bore that are also growing up, I am content.

    Sometimes I wonder if I look at each season as a time of possibilities and its own special times in the way I view the seasons of the year. We live in the Midwest for a number of reasons and one of them is we enjoy the varied seasons it offers.

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  20. Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn

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  21. Michele, what a detailed and informative review! My husband and I have been homeschooling our boys (ages 20, 16, 9, and 8) since my oldest was born. While my oldest could move out, he hasn’t due to the plans he has for the near future. I’m not sure how I’ll handle it when he does leave. It’ll be strange not setting a place for him at the dining room table or hear him sing (sometimes in German) in the shower. My husband was injured a few years ago at work and he’s permanently partially disabled. We’ve come to rely on my oldest to help out when my husband physically isn’t able to do so. That will be a tough adjustment to make. It’ll be a decade before my baby is old enough to be on his own and I hope it doesn’t fly as fast as it has for the oldest two. I’ll be adding this book to my Amazon wish list to read when the time gets closer. Thank you for sharing. ~Adrienne from Gluten Free Preppers and a member of the Blogger’s Pit Stop Crew

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    1. Those sweet boys of ours start their movement toward the door the minute they are born, it seems. And it’s such a poignant goodbye, even as we rejoice with them over their independence.
      Thanks for your story, added to the mix here!

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  22. With three children under 10, the thought of an empty nest seems very far in the future! I didn’t leave home until my 30s so maybe I stilll have a while before I need to consider it! Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

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