Coping with the almost-empty nest

September has always felt like the start of a new year. This one is bittersweet, as my youngest was dropped off at college last weekend. We drove over five hours to Vermont, and it seemed OK until it was time to leave. Let’s just say that solo drive back was intense. As I got closer to home, the tears started flowing. Walking into my home I realized my nest is temporarily empty.

Now what? It has me thinking what the future will look like. Will I stay in the house? For now, yes, but for how long?

With the youngest child off to college, what will my future look like?

Don’t get me wrong, I love my house, but do I really need a home this size? This is a hot topic in my staging tips classes, which are filled with baby boomers who want to get their homes ready for sale. Many of my staging clients are in the same boat. All aboard! Let me grab a life jacket, I’m getting on that boat.

For the last two years, I noticed who is taking my classes and why, which leads to my prediction. There is going to be a mass exodus from the Hudson Valley over the next few years. Why? The kids are out of the house, the taxes too high and the severe winter.

This summer I started working on my own home. The teacher becomes the student.

As you re-arrange your “empty-nest” home, have a yard sale, sell things online, donate or pass stuff onto friends and family. And kids who have flown the nest — don’t forget to call mom every once in a while.

Carpeting was replaced in the family room and bedrooms. I had to empty a huge wall unit in the family room and my closet. To touch every article of clothing in a walk-in closet forces you to clean out the closet. The wall unit became a timeline of memories including a large collection of VHS tapes. I sent a text to my kids that read, “Say goodbye to the Rugrats!” with a photo.

Jean Fischbeck Warren of Mainframe Custom Framing in Middletown shared this: “Transitions are hard! In terms of my kids’ rooms, I didn’t change anything at first, but each time they were home for a period of time, they self-purged their stuff bit by bit. Once they moved to their own place (not a dorm room), it seemed OK to change things.”

It is never too early to start getting ready to sell your home. The process can be extremely emotional. In many homes the child’s bedroom becomes a shrine to when the kids were at home, even though they have been gone for years.

Debbie Delnegro of John J. Lease Realtors says, “My second child is moving shortly. As a mom I am supportive, but wishing they would take their stuff with them. It is not a true empty nest until we can clean things out, which I don’t see happening anytime soon.”

Start the process to edit and forget. Have a yard sale, sell things online, donate or pass stuff onto friends and family. Keep important mementos in safe storage. Memories can remain in our hearts, not stuffed away into our drawers and closets.

Time to handle my toughest project, my own home.