Soon to Be an Empty Nester? Prepare for Play (and Pampering)

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A recent survey found that once kids leave for college, many empty nesters enjoy their newfound freedom.

When you left for college, did you worry that your parents would be sulking around the house, lonely, bored or sad (or all three), because you were no longer there? As it turns out, your worrying may have been all for naught.

According to a new survey from online coupon site RetailMeNot, most parents move on and make changes in their lives soon after their kids leave the nest. Sure, parents have to deal with a lot of emotions after their children pack up and move out of the house for college. But, according to the survey:

After the tears go away, parents are just as ready as their kids to start a new chapter in life. In fact, nearly 3 in 4 parents (74 percent) surveyed indicated they would do things differently once their kids leave the house, with traveling (42 percent), spending time with friends (37 percent) and pampering themselves (33 percent) topping the list of changes.

Not all changes are leisure-related. Some are big. About 80 percent of parents who said they’d make a change after their kids were gone said they would consider moving or renovating their home.

Interestingly, though perhaps not surprisingly, moms and dads respond differently to becoming an empty nester. The survey found:

  • Pamper yourself. Nearly 40 percent of women (compared with 24 percent of men) said they would pamper themselves after their kids moved out.
  • Purchasing power. Men are more likely than their female counterparts to buy a new TV (20 percent vs. 4 percent) or move into a new home (13 percent vs. 5 percent).

After kids leave the house, just 13 percent of parents in RetailMeNot’s U.S.-based survey said they’d convert their children’s bedrooms into something new, like an office or a craft room. Things are much different in other countries, according to other surveys. Nearly 2 in 3 parents in the U.K. and half of German parents said they already have or they plan to re-purpose their kid’s bedroom, RetailMeNot said.

“After years of prioritizing the wants and needs of their children, many parents find that they have more time and energy to focus on themselves once their kids leave the house for school,” says Trae Bodge, senior lifestyle editor for The Real Deal by RetailMeNot. “The sad irony is that parents often have more time at this stage in life, but their finances may be too strained from education costs to enjoy their newfound freedom. Utilizing savings tools is a good way to free up funds for splurges.”

If you’re a parent — or anyone else, for that matter — looking for a few easy ways to save money, check out some easy saving tips here or here.

I’m one of five kids. When my youngest brothers moved out the house after high school, my mom admitted that she did not know what to do with herself. She’d raised kids for 27 years, and then — poof! – all of us were gone (though a few of us ended up back at home for one reason or another).

My mom and dad moved on with their lives, but they’re always ecstatic when we go home to visit. I can imagine that after 27 years of loud, crazy kids in the house, it’s a little quiet when everyone is gone.

Are you an empty nester? Did you make any life changes after your kids moved out? Share your experiences below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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