Adjusting to a new schedule is difficult. Perhaps you are used to eating dinner at 6:30 because your children had either jobs or after school activities that kept them out late—or maybe they had to eat at 4 for the same reason. You've become accustomed to holding dinner for the children or letting them eat and then warming dinner later for you and your spouse or significant other. You may even be used to grocery shopping based on the needs of your children rather than those of you or your partner. You now have an opportunity to change these habits, but it isn't going to be easy.
The best way to change your schedule or routine is to just do it. You don't want to sit down and ponder over it or try to think of how to do it. You can start slowly by rearranging your dinner and shopping schedule—or even the times you awake and go to bed at night. The best part is you can now go to dinner with your partner any time you want and not have to worry about the schedules of your children even if it only means seeing they have something to eat when they get home.
There is more to a new schedule than just getting into the habit of changing it—you have to adjust to putting it in force. Some of the ways you can work toward changing your routine after the children have left home include the following:
· Sleeping later because you don't have to make breakfast for the children
· You can spend less time on housework, especially laundry and cooking
· More time for you and your partner to spend alone doing "adult" things
· Vacations are less expensive for two people than a family
· Full use of your car
While all parents sacrifice in order to raise their children, they are usually relieved to some degree when it's time for the children to leave the nest and embark on their own voyage even if it's only to college. With today's technology parents can stay in touch with their children, so they don't need to feel left out—children are only a cell phone or computer away.
While many parents fear the day their children leave home, an article in the November 2008 issue of Psychological Science indicates that once the children leave home, there are improvements in the parents' marriage. This is likely to be the result of less stress on raising the children and thus more time to spend on the relationship and marriage of those parents. This doesn't mean you won't grieve the loss of your last child going off to college, but you can develop some joy in knowing you will be able to do some of the things you have been unable to do with the children still at home.