When your kids leave home, a whole new chapter in the book of life unfolds. The days of soccer practices, school plays, proms, and birthday parties have passed, and now you have all this free time on your hands for the first time in years! What are you going to do with it? Let’s dive into some of the best hobbies for empty nesters to squash those feelings of sadness and find your new normal!
Like most parents, you’ve probably devoted a large portion of your time and energy to raising your kiddos and may no longer have hobbies of your own. That’s not to mention that your tastes have likely changed in the last 20 years. You may not even know what you’re into anymore. While you’ll certainly need some time for grieving and adjusting to a quiet household, don’t let empty nest syndrome take over for too long. This is the perfect opportunity to find new hobbies, reconnect with your significant other on a deeper level, or rekindle neglected friendships.
Time to Reconnect With Adventure
Looking for new hobbies? You’ve entered your empty nest period at just the right time! Adventures From Scratch: Friends Edition has just launched, and it’s loaded with incredible scratch-off surprises expertly crafted for friends. If you aren’t ready for all that yet, check out our Date Edition and use the tips and date ideas from our relationship experts to rekindle that old spark! What are you waiting for? Buy the book today and reconnect with your sense of freedom!
Creating a Beautiful New Life
The term “empty nest” is such a sad phrase. It conjures up images of frumpy moms wandering their homes in pajamas and mourning a bygone stage of life, but it doesn’t need to be that way. When your last child leaves home, you’ll feel weird in the quiet. You’ll miss the very things that used to get on your nerves, like the piles of laundry on the floor or the empty milk set next to the trash instead of in it. This behavior is quite normal for a period, but you obviously can’t stay there. You’re going to need some new goals!
The Best Hobbies for Empty Nesters
This season is the perfect time to focus on your own mental health, get your rockin’ bod back, or find ways to give back to the community. Your kids are out living their lives now. You raised them well, and now you don’t have any excuse not to put the same effort into yourself. Let’s find you a new purpose!
1. Institute weekly date night.
For 20 years, you’ve probably put your relationship with your partner on the back burner in lieu of raising kiddos. It’s time to rekindle the spark! You now have no excuse for not having a weekly date night with your love.
Forget the movies and bowling. Look for dates that are spontaneous and different. Adventures From Scratch: Date Edition is full of expertly crafted date nights, both in-home and out and about, and they’re curated to help you deepen the conversation and get to know one another again. No matter how long you’ve been together, our conversation starters will have you learning all kinds of new info about your partner. The dates are super fun and flexible!
Don’t want to wear pants? No problem, just check out our romantic and funny in-home couple’s scavenger hunts! Or check out “21 New and Exciting Things to Do With Your Spouse This Weekend.”
2. Join a book club.
Joining a club is great for a few reasons. Number one, you get friends who are interested in the same things as you. Number two, you’ll increase your literary knowledge since you now have time to read a book. You can check off all the classics, read everything from a new author, or study a destination or time in history. The options are endless!
3. Get a season pass.
Lock yourself into a new hobby by buying a season pass to an event you love. It could be a theater pass or season tickets to your favorite sports team. You’re more likely to drag your tush out of the house if you’ve already paid for the tickets.
4. Set a fitness goal.
There are a million self-care and health apps out there nowadays. Download one and get busy! Sign up for a yoga or pilates class. Join a running club or get your body back in fighting shape with a kickboxing, dancing, or fencing class. Exercise doesn’t have to be torture. Choose something you love!
5. Take a painting class.
Taking a class almost forces you to get up and get out, which is a good thing. A new creative outlet like painting, cooking, woodworking, or pottery can produce endorphins and give you a real sense of accomplishment. Find something that piques your interest and go for it! Check out Groupon and see if there’s a coupon for a class in your city.
6. Travel solo.
When was the last time you explored a new destination all by yourself? Maybe you’ve never had a solo getaway. Now is the time! Take a road trip to a nearby city. Book a peaceful cabin on the lake or go visit your sister in Philly. Experience the thrill, challenge, and freedom of traveling on your own.
7. Contact an old friend.
If most of your friends got married and had children around the same time as you, they’re going through the same stage of life. Call them up. Schedule a weekly brunch or a weekend away together. Put it on the calendar and make it a regular thing. You can help each other get through!
8. Find a way to volunteer.
Volunteering for an organization that you love is one of the fastest ways to find a new purpose and feel good about it. You could bathe animals at your local shelter, spend your Saturday mornings serving food in a low-income neighborhood, or start a litter-pickup crew! Here are “65 Community Service Ideas for Every Type of Volunteer.”
9. Make contact with other family members.
Utilize your new free time to catch up with family. Whether you meet in person or set up a few Zoom video chats, now is a great time to nurture those relationships.
10. Host a monthly dinner party.
If you love to host or you used to, start bringing your fellow empty nesters over for a weekly dinner party. Cook a full meal or go potluck style. Bust out the board games or gather around the fire pit for smores. Make a playlist of your favorite old music. You can blast whatever you want now, with no eye-rolling.
11. Institute virtual game night.
If your family doesn’t live close by, check out our virtual game nights! You can all join in your jammies from wherever you are and let the chaos ensue. This is also a great way to keep in touch with your grown-up kids. Schedule a time and meet online for a rousing round of Pictionary.
12. Tackle those renovations.
We’re willing to bet there are a few things around the house that need some updating. Now that your kids are grown and have their own place, you can leverage that excess cash to turn their former space into a lovely library, a new craft room, or a fabulous walk-in closet!
Writer Note: The day I moved out of my parent’s home, my mother took her sadness out with a hammer and busted down my bedroom wall to create a gigantic master bathroom for herself. I came home to visit, and I had no bedroom… and gained a puppy.
13. Learn a new language.
Have you always wanted to learn French or Italian? There has never been an easier time. Take a class in your city. Go the DIY route with Rosetta Stone or… learn in situ with a trip to Paris!
14. Take an extended journey.
Now, we realize many of you still have full-time jobs and will not be able to travel, but if you’re lucky enough to work remotely or be retired, now is your time to explore! It’s time to book that European trip you’ve always dreamt of. Take a road trip through the national parks of the United States or spend a few months on the beaches of Mexico and brush up on that Spanish.
15. Start journaling.
Journaling is an effective method of self-care. Start a bullet journal to keep up with all your new activities or keep a literary journal and document your thoughts on your new books. Log your emotions and how you’re dealing with the symptoms of empty nest syndrome or use your journal to process your future plans and dreams. Take a few tips from “How to Start Journaling and Make the Habit Stick.”
16. Substitute at a high school.
If you’re the type of person who enjoys being around teenagers, God bless you, first of all. Secondly, every high school and junior high school in the country is desperate for good substitute teachers. If you were formally a stay-at-home parent, this is a great way to serve the community, make some extra money, and spend some time encouraging the next generation. Call your local high school and find out the process.
17. Brainstorm your new traditions.
As your adult children find mates and build their own families, your Christmas and Thanksgiving plans are inevitably going to change. You may have to travel to them now. You may need to meet on weird days. This means you’ll need to create that special Grandparent tradition with the grandkids. Will you gather on Christmas Eve and bake cookies? Take a weekend away to the cabin for each Thanksgiving? Will you buy matching PJs for the whole clan and mail them to your grandkids? It’s up to you, and the options are endless! Take a bit of your free time and create a magical place for your family to gather during the holidays or find a new tradition to enjoy with your grandchildren.
18. Institute a family dinner date.
Just because your children are grown does not mean they’re out of your life. Some of them will be missing home just as much as you miss them. Let them know that they always have a place at your table! Set up a dinner date every month or every week, whatever works with your schedule. If the distance is too far, do it virtually!
Writer Note: Years ago, my family started meeting at the local BBQ restaurant on Friday nights. It quickly became a tradition. After dinner, we head for mom and dad’s for game night. The clan has grown to include four grandkids at this point, but the tradition remains.
19. Get a puppy.
You can replace your child with a puppy! There’s no shame in it. Puppies are cute, and they love you unconditionally. They’re an awesome way to lift your spirits and will be your faithful companion for years to come. If training a puppy sounds like a nightmare to you, adopt or foster an older animal for the local shelter.
20. Find some new recipes.
There are no picky eaters in the home any longer (hopefully). You can move away from grilled cheese and chicken nuggets and expand those culinary skills! Take an online cooking class. Spend some time on Pinterest looking for tasty new recipes. Explore that whole foods store that has always looked too chic and expensive. Try the weird-looking fruit from the international produce section. Cook a meal with your spouse as your date night. Learn to can foods, grow your own herbs, or make desserts from scratch. You might just find a new passion.
Warning: A new cooking habit should be paired with a new fitness program, or you’ll shortly be needing all-new pants.
21. Become a tourist in your own city.
We’re willing to bet there are tons of amazing spots in your own city that you haven’t properly explored. Let’s Roam can help! We have incredible urban art walks, historical scavenger hunts, and bar crawls in cities all over the world. Download our scavenger hunt app and buy the Explorer Pass. It will have you adventuring all year long, and you can even add your local favorites to Let’s Roam Local, our new user-driven forum that highlights all the best restaurants and sites according to the locals.
Want to include your boo? Check out our scavenger hunt Date Night Packages!
22. Take a tech course.
If you’ve fallen a bit behind on the whole technology thing, remember your teenage iPhone fixer is now at university, so you’re going to need to figure it out on your own. Now is a good time to go back to school or join a few Masterclasses to learn some new skills.
23. Start a podcast.
Do you have something to give back to the world? Spend your new free time educating the rest of us with a niche podcast or blog. Talking or writing about this difficult stage of life could help others get through it easier, and it will give you an outlet to process your own feelings as well.
If you’re not sure about making your own podcast, you can still get some wise advice from one of the incredible empty-nester experts out there. Check out The Midlife Edit and let MBA Jennifer Lawrence help you craft your awesome life after kiddos.
24. Plant a garden.
Getting your hands dirty is its own kind of therapy. Research studies done in permaculture have shown that the mycobacterium in the soil causes a release of the happy hormone, serotonin. Harvesting food has been linked to the release of dopamine as well. So, the entire process from planting to harvesting has the ability to produce happiness. Plus, you’ll have plenty of fodder to support your new cooking habit.
25. Start a local free library.
Your new book club will likely have you stocked up on hardbacks in no time. Use your new woodworking skills to craft a curio or cute cabinet to place beside your mailbox. Allow neighbors to borrow and lend books in your free library on an honor system. We’ve seen these little libraries all over the world in urban areas, and we think it’s a wonderful way to give to the community.
26. Update your fashion.
Still wearing the same jeans you bought in 2000? It’s time to update. Well, they’re probably back in style now, but anyway. You have some free time and a few spare dollars now, so grab your bestie and spend a few Saturdays at TJ Maxx updating your wardrobe.
27. Fulfill your childhood dream.
What did you dream about as a child? Many of us wanted to own a horse and learn to ride, travel the world, or be jewelry designers. Think back to the days of your youth, and barring that your only dream was to become an astronaut, see if there’s a way that you can achieve that dream now.
28. Start a side gig.
Whatever skill you have, there’s a side hustle out there! You can wrap presents for a little extra money. Write a book and sell digital copies online. Do some after-school tutoring. Babysit the neighbor’s kiddos for their date night. Sell the fruit and veggies from your garden or turn your new painting hobby into a business by selling canvases or painting business windows in town.
29. Declutter your home.
Now is a great time to go through the attic, clean out that hall closet, or reorganize the disaster you call a linen closet. Throw away clothes with holes. Go through old Christmas decorations and donate them. Getting your house in order (finally) can give you a real sense of accomplishment and set the stage for a new beginning.
30. Take a breather.
While solitude can be lonely, it can also be peaceful. You’ve longed for just five minutes to yourself for years. Take some time to adjust and enjoy the slower pace of life. Learn to walk slower and smell the roses. Enjoy your morning coffee instead of the mad rush to get out of the house. Binge on a Netflix show that your kids would have hated. You finally have some time all to yourself. Take the positive outlook and use it to do literally whatever you want.
A Waiting New Life
It sounds cliche, but life after your kids is like a whole new world. It doesn’t have to be a midlife crisis, though moments of breakdown are certainly normal. This time in life is full of new opportunities, a chance to do all the things you wanted to do in your twenties but never got the chance to. Whatever it is you want to do, hop on YouTube and find a tutorial or listen to an appropriate podcast and get busy! There’s amazing stuff ahead for you.
If you’ve already been through the empty nest stage and there were hobbies that helped get you through, drop them in the comments! We could always use a few more great ideas.
Taking a road trip with your partner? Check out these “150 Riveting and Relatable Road Trip Conversation Starters” to make your trip a bit more engaging!
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s time to focus on other relationships. Rekindle your romance with your partner with Adventures From Scratch: Date Edition or grab the Friends Edition for some fun outings with your buds.