There are many adjustments you make as a parent when your children move out. At first, most of the changes relate to your emotional state. But once you adapt to having the house to yourself, you can focus on more practical areas.
When you have children, you make numerous concessions around the house. While the most obvious is giving your children their own rooms, most parents make other changes throughout the house as well to adjust to having children. For example, many parents make many alterations for child safety. As your child grows up you may reverse some of these changes, but they are replaced with other modifications made specifically for your child.
When your children move out, you have the opportunity to recreate your space and focus on what you want for your household. Some parents prefer to make major changes to their homes, while other parents make smaller changes to reclaim the empty space. Ultimately, what you decide to do is entirely based on your personal decisions, but you have plenty of options to reclaim your space.
Before you make any changes to your home, you must decide whether you intend to stay in the house or if you want to downsize. This decision is partially decided by how many children you have. If you upgraded to a larger house to accommodate a large family, then you may suddenly find yourself with too much space. Some parents embrace this extra space and come up with different uses for each room, but other parents may not need so much space or they may find it unreasonable to pay for so much space they are not using.
Even if you plan on downsizing, there are some changes to make around the house to improve your resale value. If you lived in your house for a long time, then there is bound to be wear and tear. Your first projects should be home-improvement based, focusing on repainting the house or redoing portions of the floor in high-traffic areas. You do not have to worry about having empty space if you are moving since it is impractical to fill those rooms only to empty everything out a short time later once you downsize.
Another area to focus on, whether you are staying in your home or downsizing, is removing the clutter. Most parents have plenty of clutter from their children growing up. For example, many end up storing baby furniture and toys in the basement or attic. If your children are planning on having kids of their own, then you may decide to hold onto your old furniture and toys to pass onto the next generation. Even if you plan on doing this, it is worth going through everything in storage to see whether it is in good enough condition to save. Some items may also be dated and no longer safe to use. For example, even if your child car seat looks like it is good condition, it probably lacks safety features compared to newer models.
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Once you have figured out what you want to do with your existing storage, you can decide whether you want to add any more items. Most children leave behind plenty of items after moving out. Before you can do anything with your new space, you have to decide whether these items are worth saving. For best results, it helps to make this a family project if your children still live close. This way, you do not risk accidentally getting rid of something your child valued but could not take with him or her when moving out of the home.
After clearing out the clutter, your next big decision is what you want to do with your children’s old bedrooms. If you frequently have guests or if your children live close enough where they can frequently visit, then you may want to turn the bedrooms into guestrooms. How elaborate you intend to make the guest room depends on who you expect to have over. If your children are planning to have kids of their own, then you want to have child-friendly guestrooms. These guestrooms are often similar to the rooms your children used to inhabit.
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If you plan on having adult guests, then you have a little more freedom. Some parents create dual-purpose rooms, which can easily be converted into a guest room when company arrives, but otherwise acts as a den or an office. If you want to go above and beyond, then you can create a master guest suite. A master guest suite effectively acts as a bedroom and a family room.
If you are not concerned with guest rooms, then you have much more freedom. Consider the following ideas for your new space:
Once you decide what you want to do with the larger spaces, you can focus on what to do with your existing space. Do you have furniture you purchased specifically for your children? If your children do not want to take the furniture with them, then consider getting rid of it. If you do not have the storage space, then you can try to sell the furniture or give it away if you know someone who is redecorating.
Many experts urge empty nesters to make the changes slowly, not only for their own sake but for their children’s sakes. For one thing, many children who move out to go to college may very well return after graduation until they find that first job. Making the changes to the existing family rooms slowly over time is less emotionally upsetting to family members who may not take your decorating craze as an attempt to “erase” them from your life. Recreating your space once it is just yours again takes some planning, so making sure you repurpose your existing family rooms with some thought is crucial.
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