The beginning of the end is near for me (referring to the end of my children’s childhoods). That opens the door to the new chapter called “empty nest,” the one chapter I’ve been dreading for a while now.
Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos, who have three kids who are close to the same age range as my kids, recently opened up about how they handled the empty nest chapter in their lives, and I’m going to take notes from them.
Kelly Ripa And Mark Consuelos Opened Up About How They Felt When The Nest Emptied
I think ALL parents feel the shift from their kids’ childhood to adulthood in some way. Emotions usually take over when a big change like that is ahead, and I fully get that now as I get closer and closer to that new chapter.
My kids are 20, 18, and 17, so the knock on the door to this new chapter is getting louder and louder. My 20-year-old is getting ready to take flight and leave the nest in July. He’s moving to Florida, and while I’m happy for him and proud of the adult he’s grown into, I’m sad for me and his brothers who now have to reinvent the house dynamic.
For Ripa and Consuelos, whose kids are all now out of their home, there was a “now what” moment. “It was deep. It was like a loss,” Consuelos told PEOPLE.
“When Joaquin left [for the University of Michigan], it was hard, the two of us and the dogs staring at each other, like, ‘Well, now what?’” Ripa added.
With all three of their kids out of the house, Michael, 25, Lola, 21, and Joaquin, 20, adjustments needed to be made.
“The first dinner I cooked, I’m not kidding, was for 12 people, and it was just the two of us. We sat there with this inordinate amount of food, neither one of us hungry at all,” Ripa said. “We’re empty nesters, oh no, what are we going to discuss?”
Ripa said the first 48 hours were “leaning into despair” but they quickly leaned “into the positive side.” Simply put, “We got over it,” Ripa said.
Everyone Says The New Chapter Comes With A New Sense Of Freedom
Anytime I speak to anyone who’s already gone through the big change of the kids leaving the home to start their adult life, they tell me it’s wonderful and there’s a new freedom just waiting for me. It doesn’t matter how many times I hear that, I’m still not buying the wonderful part of that, but guess that’s going to take some time to get used to.
The “Live with Kelly and Mark” cohosts took advantage of their child-free days by vacationing with a different mindset than before.
“We went to the beach and we saw the sunset and we were like, ‘Oh my God, this is amazing,’” Consuelos said. Ripa added, “We ate when we wanted to eat, not when the kids wanted to. We went on hikes, we went rock-climbing – which was scary, but we did it.”
One thing Ripa talked about really resonated with me. She said that two weeks before her youngest moved out, the older two kids came back home and the three of them slept in the same room.
“They had me recreate things from when they were little, like I used to tuck them in bed, give them kisses and say, ‘Ok, that’s it, now goodnight,’” she said. “And then I would come back in the room and they’d scream and laugh.”
Consuelos added, “They would come into our room and get old DVDs of home movies and we watched as a family.”
As An Almost Empty Nest Mom, I’m Taking Notes…
Just last weekend, my middle son, Ryder, pulled out the drawer of old photo albums and started going down memory lane taking the rest of us with him. I feel there are many more days like that headed my way as my son, JD, gets ready to move to Florida.
I’m going to take notes from Ripa and Consuelos and suggest that we recreate some of the fun things we’ve done when they were younger and see how long we can make the memories last before it’s time to adjust to a new chapter. And with any luck, I’ll also one day be able to say “I got over it” too.
Are you an empty nester who has tips to share? Or are you in the same boat I’m in where you’re getting ready for some big life changes with your kids? If so, drop me a DM on Instagram and tell me what’s helped you get through the rough days.