If you’ve recently found yourself in the “empty nest” phase of life, where the kids have grown up and moved out, you might wonder what to do with all this newfound time and freedom. If so, you’ve come to the right place!
Whether you’re looking to connect with others, dive into a creative endeavor, boost your mental or physical health, or even start a side hustle, there’s a hobby out there that’s just right for you.
Empty nest hobbies are more than just pastimes; they’re opportunities to explore, grow, and rediscover yourself.
So, grab a cup of tea or whatever suits your fancy, settle into your favorite reading spot, and let’s embark on this exciting journey of hobbies for empty nesters.
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What is an Empty Nest?
An “empty nest” refers to the period in life when all their children have grown up and left the family home to head off to college or
For many, the empty nest phase can be a bittersweet experience.
However, it’s essential to remember that this phase isn’t about an “ending” but rather a “new beginning.”
It’s a time for self-reflection and rediscovery—a time to make plans, explore new things, and consider new hobbies and interests.
The Empty or almost empty nest is the perfect time to strengthen relationships with your spouse or life partner, friends, and family, and even with adult children in new, more profound ways.
Empty Nest Syndrome
While the house might be quieter, the emotions can be loud and overwhelming.
While it’s not an official clinical diagnosis, it’s a very real phenomenon for many empty nesters.
It’s a mix of feelings—sadness, loss, and even grief—that many empty nesters (especially primary caregivers) experience when their children leave home.
What are the causes of Empty Nest Syndrome?
For years, a significant part of a parent’s identity revolves around being a caregiver. When children leave, it can lead to a feeling of “Who am I now?”
Loss of Daily Purpose
The daily routine of caring for children, attending school events, or just being there for them suddenly changes, leading to a sense of loss.
The house can feel eerily quiet without the familiar sounds of children. This silence can amplify feelings of loneliness.
Even though they’re grown up, parents often worry about their grown children’s well-being, especially if they’re living far away.
Fear not! Being an Empty Nester is not All Gloom!
While these feelings can be challenging, it’s essential to remember that it’s a natural part of life’s journey.
And like all phases, this too shall pass. Many parents find that when the kids leave home, it’s an opportunity to rediscover themselves and their partners and learn new skills and hobbies.
Hobbies for Empty Nesters (and Almost Empty Nesters)
Traveling is a great hobby for empty nesters!
Travel broadens the mind and offers new cultural experiences. It’s a chance for empty-nest couples and single empty-nesters alike to learn and create lasting memories.
The world is your oyster, and there’s so much to explore!
Here’s a list of ideas to inspire your wanderlust :
Take a Road Trip: Explore the scenic routes and hidden gems near and far!
Go on a Cruise: Opt for a relaxing cruise. Whether it’s the Caribbean, Mediterranean, or even a river cruise in Europe, there’s a world to see from the deck of a ship.
Nature Retreats: Head to national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, or nature reserves. It’s a refreshing way to reconnect with nature.
Food and Wine Tours: If you’re a foodie, explore destinations through their culinary delights. Take cooking classes, visit vineyards, or indulge in local delicacies.
Group Tours: Join organized tours specifically designed for seniors or empty nesters. It’s a great way to meet like-minded travelers.
Gardening is a wonderful way to spend time and is a great hobby for those who love to get their hands dirty and enjoy the outdoors.
It offers a blend of therapeutic relaxation and gentle physical activity. As children move out, tending to a garden can fill the newfound time with joy.
For those starting, it’s best to begin small, perhaps with container gardening, and gradually expand.
Equip yourself with basic tools, select easy-to-care-for plants initially, and don’t shy away from seeking advice from local nurseries.
Many organizations need volunteers. Whether it’s mentoring, helping at a local shelter, or a food pantry, there’s likely a cause that resonates with you.
Teaching or Mentoring
Empty nesters are full of wisdom and knowledge we have gained from life. Share your expertise and skills by teaching classes in community centers or schools, or consider tutoring.
Elevate Your Culinary Skills.
Whether you’re a newbie looking to master the basics or a seasoned home chef aiming to elevate your dishes, the culinary world is a vast and flavorful playground waiting to be explored.
Here are some ways to either kickstart or enhance your cooking journey:
Cooking Classes: From local community centers to renowned culinary schools, many places offer classes for all skill levels. It’s hands-on learning with expert guidance!
Online Tutorials: Websites like Tasty, Food Network, or even YouTube have countless video tutorials. Whether you’re looking to perfect that risotto or bake a soufflé, there’s a video for it.
Cookbooks: The good old-fashioned way! Dive into cookbooks from renowned chefs or those centered around specific cuisines.
Cooking Apps: Apps like Yummly or Epicurious offer many recipes with step-by-step instructions. Some even customize recipes based on dietary preferences or ingredients you have on hand.
Join a Cooking Group: Platforms like Meetup often have groups for cooking enthusiasts. It’s a fun way to learn, share recipes, and enjoy delicious meals with fellow food lovers.
Attend Food Festivals: These events often feature workshops, live cooking demonstrations, and a chance to interact with chefs.
Watch Cooking Shows: Shows like “MasterChef,” “Chef’s Table,” or “The Great British Bake Off” can be both entertaining and educational. They offer a peek into professional techniques and inspire creativity.
Find a Creative Outlet
An empty nest is the perfect opportunity to tap into your creative side. A creative outlet can be therapeutic, mentally stimulating, and deeply fulfilling.
Local craft stores, bookshops, or online platforms can be treasure troves of resources. Consider joining workshops, online classes, or community groups where beginners are welcome.
Here’s a list of creative hobby ideas for empty nesters:
Painting and Drawing: Whether a seasoned artist or a beginner, the world of colors and sketches can be therapeutic and rewarding.
Creative Writing: Pen down your thoughts, memories, or fictional tales. You could start a blog, write short stories, or even embark on a novel.
Crafting: Try your hand at knitting, crocheting, or quilting. These crafts allow you to create beautiful items and can be incredibly relaxing.
DIY Home Projects: Redecorate a room, build a piece of furniture, or take up gardening. Transforming your living space can be a fulfilling project.
Pottery: There’s something deeply satisfying about molding clay with your hands. Plus, you end up with lovely handmade items for your home.
Photography: Capture the beauty of everyday moments. With modern technology, you don’t even need a fancy camera – a smartphone will do!
Cooking and Baking: Experiment with new recipes or cuisines. Baking, in particular, can be a delightful and tasty hobby.
Scrapbooking: Document your memories in a creative way. It’s a wonderful trip down memory lane and a great way to preserve family history.
Theater and Acting: Join a local theater group. Whether you’re on stage or behind the scenes, it’s a fantastic way to meet people and express yourself.
Cultivating gratitude has been linked to increased happiness, reduced stress, and a more positive attitude toward life.
It helps us focus on the good things, big or small, that we might otherwise overlook.
Starting a gratitude practice can profoundly impact both our physical and mental health.
Simple ways to weave gratitude into the fabric of your daily life:
Gratitude Journal: Dedicate a few minutes daily to jot down three things you’re thankful for. They can be big or small, from a kind gesture by a stranger to a memorable moment with family.
Over time, you’ll have a beautiful collection of positive memories!
Gratitude Jar: Get a jar and some note slips. Write down something you’re grateful for daily and drop it in. On tough days or at the end of the year, go through your notes for a heartwarming boost.
Mindful Moments: Set aside a specific time each day, perhaps during your morning coffee or evening wind-down, to reflect on the day’s blessings. It’s a serene way to center yourself.
Gratitude Meditation: There are guided meditations specifically focused on gratitude. Spend a few minutes each day or week immersed in these sessions, allowing thankfulness to wash over you.
Related article: How to Practice Gratitude Daily
Join a Book Club
Joining a book club reignites your love for reading and offers a social platform to discuss and debate various perspectives.
A Book club is the perfect way to meet new people, engage in stimulating conversations, and expose yourself to books you might not have picked up on your own.
Check out your local library, community center, or bookstore to see if they host book clubs.
Learn a Musical Instrument
Picking up a musical instrument is a fantastic hobby and a delightful way to speed extra time.
Playing an instrument is fun, enhances cognitive functions, improves memory, and offers a sense of accomplishment.
Consider enrolling in music lessons—many community centers, music schools, and even online platforms offer courses tailored for beginners.
Learning a New Language
Learning a new language is like unlocking a door to another world.
It allows you to communicate with more people and deepens your understanding of different cultures and ways of thinking.
Additionally, it’s a fantastic workout for the brain, enhancing cognitive abilities and memory.
Here’s how you can get started:
Language Learning Apps: Platforms like Duolingo, Babbel, and Rosetta Stone make learning interactive and fun, allowing you to practice anytime, anywhere.
Language Exchange: Websites like Tandem or HelloTalk connect you with native speakers. You can teach them your language while they teach you theirs – it’s a win-win!
Online Courses: Websites like Coursera and Udemy offer comprehensive language courses, often taught by university professors or language experts.
Learn to Dance!
Dancing is a great way to spend free time and has so many benefits. Dancing can improve physical coordination, balance, and stamina, and it’s so much fun!
Look for beginner dance lessons at local dance studios or a local community college. Many places offer introductory courses designed for those with little to no experience.
If you’re more comfortable starting at home, some online platforms and apps provide step-by-step tutorials for beginners.
Start a New Self-Care Practice
Many Empty nesters find that they put themselves on the back burner while raising kids. The good news is An empty nest (or even an almost empty nest) is the perfect time to fix that.
It’s a necessary practice to ensure our well-being in today’s fast-paced world. Taking time for yourself can reduce stress, increase self-awareness, and boost happiness.
Related article: How to Start a Self-care Routine
Become Social Butterfly
Engaging socially can boost your mood, improve mental health, and expand your horizons.
Getting social can be a game-changer if you’re looking to make new friends, network professionally, or add a little zest to your weekends.
Here are some great ideas to help amplify your social life:
Reconnect with Old Friends: Sometimes, the best way to start is by revisiting old connections. Drop a message or call an old friend and rekindle that bond.
Join Social Groups or Clubs: Think about social groups with like-minded people.
Platforms like Meetup or local community boards can be a great place to connect with fellow empty nesters and people with whom you share common interests.
Host Casual Get-Togethers: You don’t need a grand occasion to invite friends and over. A simple movie night, potluck dinner, or game night can do the trick.
Attend Local Events: Watch for local events, fairs, workshops, or seminars. They’re great places to meet people and learn something new.
Take a Class: Always wanted to learn pottery, dancing, or a new language? Enroll in a class. It’s a double win – you learn new things and meet like-minded individuals.
Engage Online: Join online forums or groups related to your interests. Today’s digital age offers countless opportunities to connect and engage.
Related article: How to find purpose after 50
Declutter and Repurpose Your Space
As time goes by, it’s natural to accumulate items that might no longer serve a purpose in our lives. After the kids leave is an ideal time to declutter and breathe fresh life into your living space.
Here’s how to make your space better suited for the empty nest:
Start Small: Begin with a single drawer, shelf, or corner of a room. This makes the task less daunting and gives you a sense of accomplishment that can motivate you to tackle larger areas.
Categorize: As you review your items, sort them into categories: keep, donate, recycle, or toss.
Reimagine Rooms: With the kids gone, you might have spare rooms. Consider transforming one into a home office, craft room, meditation space, or guest bedroom.
DIY Projects: Repurposing furniture can be a fun and creative endeavor.
An old ladder can become a quirky bookshelf, or an outdated dresser can be painted and transformed into a chic new piece.
Organize: Once you’ve decluttered, invest in some organizational tools. Baskets, shelves, and storage boxes can help keep everything in its place.
Decorate: Now that you’ve cleared out the old, bring in some new energy. Fresh paint, new cushions, or adding indoor plants can make a difference.
Start a Side Hustle
Whether you’ve got an empty or almost empty nest, starting a new business or side hustle is a great way to spend new free time!
Starting a side hustle is not just about earning extra money; it’s about pursuing a passion, gaining more independence, and even testing the waters for a potential full-time venture.
It can be incredibly rewarding to see an idea come to life and generate extra cash, all while doing something you love.
Conclusion: Empty Nest Hobbies for the Empty Nester (Or almost empty nester)
The empty nest phase is a time of rediscovery. It’s an opportunity to dive into activities you’ve always wanted to try or revisit past hobbies with a fresh perspective.
Embrace this period with an open heart and mind, and you’ll find that the world offers countless avenues for joy, growth, and fulfillment.
Happy Empty Nesting!
I am obsessed with all things makeup and skincare and love getting my hands dirty out in the garden, my art room, or in the kitchen with my hubby whipping up something yummy for the fam.
I’m always down to chat and love collaborating with other creatives and brands alike!
Feel free to reach out anytime!