It's the day after your daughter's wedding or the day after you dropped your son off at college -- the first day of your empty nest. The first thing you should do is nothing at all. While movies and television might have you believe you should immediately start living out your wildest dreams and putting down payments on RVs, you should actually take some time to rest. Likely, you haven't gotten much rest since the kids were born, since there's been everything from midnight feedings to school carpools to sleepless nights waiting to hear your teenager's key in the door. Just relax and reward yourself for the work you put into your child.
Taking some time for yourself will allow you to adjust to the change and figure out how you really feel about your child's departure. You shouldn't compare how you feel to how other people feel, as everyone experiences an empty nest differently. If you're happy as can be to finally have the place to yourself, that's great. It's also OK to feel a little morose, but it's unlikely that suddenly adopting a pet, volunteering for five charities or immediately redecorating your child's room will make you feel better. Drastic changes may only cause regret later, and if you give it some time, you may see that your mood has more to do with other things going on in your life, such as menopause, trouble at work or an aging parent who needs more assistance than before.
If you're well-rested, you'll be all ready for the tip on the next page.