empty nester, things I wish I did differently with my kids

I am a recent empty nester. With my new role comes a much quieter house and more time to reflect on the years I spent raising children.

Life was incredibly busy when the kids were small and my husband and I were getting established in our careers. Looking back, there is plenty I’d do differently if given the chance. But since I don’t get a “re-do”, I want to share my list of things I wish I did more of with my kids when they were young. .

1. Given myself a learning curve.

I wish I had realized that parenthood is a skill that one learns by doing – we are not born with this knowledge. It’s easy to think you know what to do in various situations because you’ve helped friends with their kids or done your online research – but until you are actually dealing with the issue with your own child, you really don’t know. Every kid is different and it’s important to learn to parent in a way that helps your child grow and learn.

2. Compared Less.

I had a vision in my head of what I would be like as a mom. In my mind, I was patient, kind, strong, and always had the right answers. This mom is the one I showed the outside world. I became disappointed in myself when I was not able to be consistently this type of parent at home as well.  After 20 years of being a mom I finally learned not to be so hard on myself. We are all only human, and, as such, allowed to have good days and bad.

3. Read More Stories.

My kids loved having books read to them before bed, and I remember often rushing through this bedtime routine because I had to do something else to do.that I thought was more important.  I wish I had enjoyed the deliciousness of those special moments snuggled together listening to the stories unfold. I walk by the bookshelf where I have all their  books stored from years past, and feel guilty that I was unwilling to give them a few more minutes of my time those evenings.

4. Slowed Down and Let the Kids Help More.

I was a very busy young mom who did not often make the time to let the kids help. I prefered to complete tasks myself because the process was much slower when they were involved,  I wish I had that time back – I would either welcome the assistance, or schedule another time for us to do the chore together. It’s our job as parents to teach and instill wonder – I deeply regret not being more patient with my kids.

5. Focussed less on a clean house

I grew up in a messy house with 4 siblings. My mom did not want to stifle our creativity, and let us build forts in the living room and leave them up for 3 weeks. She encouraged us to do art projects and set up stations for us at the dining room table. Even as a kid, I wanted a tidy home similar to the houses in which my friends lived – I was embarrassed by the mess.

As an adult, I kept my home immaculate even after having children. Now I think, why did I do that? These days, my childhood home, where my folks still live, is very organized and clean. It wasn’t until I grew up that I realized that mom actually preferred a tidy home, but thought it more important we had  space to experiment and grow. What a wonderful gift mom gave to me – I wish I had been more like her when my kids were young. I will make an effort to provide an environment for my grandchildren to foster creativity.

6. Let go of guilt

Finding time to recharge is important for moms. As a young parent, I felt I needed to always to more and had difficulty seeing how much was already done. Taking the time to work in the yard or see a movie somehow felt wrong. I carried a lot of guilt around in those days.


I’m just thinking out loud as I write this post. I hope that my musings help other young mothers. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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