10 Lessons I Learned In My Empty Nest

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For years I looked forward to an empty nest; my wife and I have two young adults now and our “nest” is empty. When thinking about the new rhythm of a quieter house, I always imagined it would be blissful with long dinners, mid-week movies, our much joked about naked Tuesdays becoming a reality, and our food bill becoming rightsized.

What we got was totally different. And here is why.

  1. I can’t blame the kids anymore. How many times did I blame our kids for any of the following; not replacing the toilet paper, paper towels or soap in the shower? I lost my “it wasn’t me, it was them” excuse.  Solution:  I now hide toilet paper in my t-shirt drawer and paper towels in the pantry.
  1. Long dinners, no. TV dinners, YES. When dating, my wife and I would linger at the dinner table. In restaurants, the check would often sit unpaid for up to an hour as we talked about politics, food, travel, and our love for each other.  Now our dinner conversations go like this, “What is Argentina?” “Who is Sir Michael Caine?” and “When was the first TV dinner served?” Yes, Jeopardy is the third person on our couch as we eat dinner.  Yes, I said couch. We could sell our breakfast room table as a condo we use it so infrequently. Solution:  I don’t really see this as needing a solution, and I can no longer blame the kids for the lost remote.
  1. I have to work even harder. No I don’t mean in the office, I mean at home. I guess I never gave our kids credit for everything they did around the house; maybe they did  if for the much sought-after bigger allowance. In our house, the kids would walk the dog, take out the trash, load the dishwasher, move the laundry from washing machine to dryer, and so much more. Solution:  Win Lotto, hire a Head of Household, and never worry again.
  1. My best Dad jokes have no audience.  If you could eavesdrop into my car on any drive longer than my driveway you would hear the following, “Do you know how many people are dead in that cemetery? All of them!”  or the other classic, “People are dying to get into the funeral business.” So while my kids were still around I had a captive audience, especially when the kid locks were on in the car. Now nobody laughs, EVER! Solution: Create a whole new routine; now when I pull up next to a car with a nose picker, I yell out, “Pick me a winner!”
  1. I will see movies, movies, and more movies. Yes, when the kids were home we averaged maybe three movies a year. Now I have seen maybe four a year. Going out mid-week is a total and complete false expectation for an empty nester. Until we win Lotto we still have to get up and go to work. Additionally, we now have even more household responsibilities (see # 1 and #3).  Solution: Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, and On-Demand.

  1. Jeff Bezos owes me a thank you note. Yes, the art of handwritten thank you notes may be almost extinct but given the number of orders I placed early in my empty nest period, Jeff really should send me a note, or name his boat after me, or at least acknowledge that his recent divorce was underwritten by “The Blankstein Family.” It would seem that every day would bring a new list of “I need” that all “must be here tomorrow.” I guess forethought and planning were left at home; if you happen to find it at your house please send it directly to my kids!  Solution: I bought each kid a $500 Amazon gift card and said that is it, nothing more when the card is spent.
  1. You can always come home + Murphy’s Law = Trouble. Now my wife and I live a busy and fun life but we do try and relax on the weekends. It appears that BOTH kids have hacked into our calendars and choose to come home ONLY on weekends that we have marked as “MNPRT.” Yes MNPRT is an acronym for Make No Plans Relax Time and our kids broke the code. Solution: Create fake friends (Chuck and Maggie) and put them on the calendar; so far it works 50% of the time.
  1. My blog will never be started. Not only am I a dad with model good looks (I am the only person to have ever said this) but I am also one of the funniest people you will ever meet (again I am the only person to have ever said this) so why not write a blog until I win Lotto (see #3)? Well, it seems that when the kids left they took my mojo with them so now if I have 1 witty Tweet and Facebook post a week I’ll consider myself an author. Solution:  Repost and retweet what others have already written but I was thinking about too. If you are wondering, Jimmy Kimmel steals my stuff all the time, as does Ellen, Jimmy Fallon, and Stephen Colbert.
  1. I will try something new with all of my free time. I actually thought we would learn to play bridge, take up tennis again, go to the gym more often, and maybe even learn to cook. Even as I type these words I know the ideas were delusional. What free time, it was all sucked up with #s 1, 2, 3, and 7? Solution: Cross bridges don’t play bridge, drive past the gym so my GPS thinks I was there, and order out as much as possible.

  1. Love my wife even more. I married up, and I mean way up. I am a 7 (ok maybe a 3 except on very few days when I could be a 4) and my wife is a 10+. I now bring her flowers every week, compliment her hair after I hear the blow drier in use, and have learned to ask every few days, “have you lost weight?” Solution: Don’t let her read this!
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About Author

Jim Blankstein is a Boston based Marketer and Brand Champion. He has worked for brands including CVS, Disney, American Express, Delta Airline, AT&T, and many more. Jim is passionate about creating meaning relationships between customers and brands. Jim’s dream job is to be the Bosun on a large yacht in the Bahamas but for now, he lives in Needham with his wife Jodi (a true 10) and NOT with his children at Quinnipiac and The George Washington University. jblankstein@gmail.com

4 Comments

    • So glad we’re not the only ones working more and dining with jeopardy (good for the brain cells, no?) And thank god for Whole Foods salad bar!!

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