Raising our three daughters has been so much fun! When our first daughter Taylor was a senior, I cried at every “last” she had. Dropping her off at college, we all left crying.
Two years later, I was a little better with Lauren, because I knew what to expect. I was still crying at the last basketball game, choir concert, etc., but tried to celebrate it too. We moved her and Taylor into a house a few weeks early, so they could leave us to go to college. This made goodbye a little easier.
When Katelynn was a junior, I started thinking of how empty nest was on the horizon. I knew I would be sad when Katelynn left for college with Lauren, so I needed a plan. You can read a little more about our plan here.
I wanted to have something fun to distract me from being sad about this season of life ending. We started planning an empty nest trip to Hawaii at the beginning of the year.
It was the perfect remedy! I was able to enjoy all the lasts with Katelynn. When the sadness would kick in, I’d remind myself of our upcoming trip. We planned it so when the girls left for college…we left for the airport.
Learning new identity
For 23 years my first priority was being a mom and taking care of their needs. I didn’t neglect myself or my marriage but just always had the girls needs in mind. Now with the girls off on their own, it is time to rediscover myself and have more time to spend with Brady. Slowly but surely, Brady and I are starting to relax and enjoy just being us again.
Life is a lot less noisy and overscheduled! We keep telling each other we can do what we want and don’t have to check in with anybody. It feels very freeing!
We’ve gone on lots of vacations with just us, but this time was different. We had lots of time to talk about our goals and dreams for this next season. It wasn’t just taking a break from our busy schedules, but also a time to reconnect. It has brought us back to our college dating life. This time we have more freedom because of money and maturity.
I thought coming home it would be hard staying in that mindset, but it turned out to be easier than I thought. Even though I love cooking for the girls and seeing them at the end of the day, it was nice to have less groceries to buy, less to cook, more time to myself, and time to flirt with my cute husband!
Embracing the Abundance
There’s something about sitting on a beach listening to the waves that fills my heart with gratitude. I have always thought vacations equal beach. Anywhere else is a trip. A beach vacation allows me to relax, dream, and read.
I spent a lot of time in Hawaii focusing on all the blessings we have. I loved our time raising our girls and I wouldn’t change a minute of it. Hawaii was the perfect place to soak up the abundance of blessings in my life.
How could I not be grateful surrounded by breathtaking scenery and spending time with Brady? When I focus on gratitude the sadness of the season of raising kids being over slowly faded.
We have had to change so much in the last two years to make this trip and mindset possible. Two years ago, Brady was in such bad health that going on a trip like this would’ve looked a lot different. He would not have had the energy to take the four-mile hike to the Falls with me. We probably would have driven the road to Hana, but just had to settle for the easier sights.
One stop on the road to Hana was the black sand beach. We hiked down to it and enjoyed getting in the water and soaking up the unique experience. I started noticing how many people stayed back on the beach. They either weren’t prepared to swim, didn’t want to put a swimsuit on, or couldn’t physically get there.
I always want to be the person that embraces new experiences and not the person who just watched from the bank.
- No one cares what you look like in a swimsuit! Don’t wait till you reach your idea of perfect to participate!
- Be prepared to take new opportunities and jump in! Look ahead and mentally prepare yourself for what’s to come.
- Get in your daily movement, so physically you are ready to take advantage of adventures! Exercise shouldn’t be about punishing your body to burn fat. It should be how you take care of your body to perform it’s best.
Rest is so important for all of us in managing our stress. Parents forget this in the craziness of busy schedules, work schedules, and raising kids. On this trip to Hawaii, resting was a big priority. Whenever I go somewhere new, I love to research all the “must do’s” of the area. I’m guilty of over- planning. This time I tried to pick a few less and alternate active days with chill beach days.
We went to a different beach every day and enjoyed the chill time. Resting is extra important to Brady in managing his rheumatoid arthritis. Anyone with a chronic illness must always prioritize rest.
I used to be of the thought that you rest when you get home from a vacation. But does anyone really do that? Our experience has been when we come home, life doesn’t allow us to catch up on rest. We wanted to come home rested.
I like to go to bed early. Hawaii’s sunset was at 7, so this made it easy. I also love to get up and watch the sunrise and spend some alone time. This gave Brady time to sleep in. We both did what worked for us.
We haven’t forgotten that just 9 months ago, he would have had to rest all day Sunday, because of Brady taking methotrexate (chemo drug for Rheumatoid Arthritis). Getting in extra rest here and there beats a chemo Sunday hands down!
As we are so thankful for Brady’s health, I started realizing I had a change in attitude. I’ve been able to keep off the 25 pounds I lost over two years ago and have felt so good that it’s my new normal.
As the girls were growing up, we went to the beach every year. But I don’t have many pictures of me in a swimsuit with them. The few I do have they are in front covering me up most of me up. I wasn’t comfortable with how I looked in the swimsuit. In Hawaii I packed bikinis and actually wore them! I’ve been this weight years before, but this time felt different. I was grateful for this body and no longer ashamed of it.
I didn’t have to look like a bikini model to wear a bikini or a swimsuit for that matter. I took pictures in my swimsuits and felt proud of how far I’d come. It is an incredibly freeing feeling being able to appreciate your body and let go of shame and judgment. I don’t think you should have to wait till you’re almost 50 to figure this out! I wish I had learned this years ago.
We were able to fully enjoy this trip with the hiking, snorkeling, and beach time, because we changed our lifestyle. These healthy habits didn’t get put on hold while we were on vacation. Just like you shouldn’t need to rest from vacation, you shouldn’t have to totally recover from a time of bad habits. We still wanted to feel good.
- We still prioritized sleep and rest.
- We drank tons of water every day.
- Daily exercise wasn’t in the gym, but it was walking a ton, hiking, and swimming.
- Eating our way is a nonnegotiable because we want to feel our best. We did this by using the “find me gluten free” app for a few restaurants. That’s how we found a great gluten free restaurant Maui Brick Oven. We also bought groceries and fixed a lot of simple meals with local foods in our condo. Bad food choices weren’t going to slow us down!
If empty nest is approaching for you soon, I highly recommend planning an empty nest trip to celebrate the transition of seasons. Life should be celebrated! I do suggest that you work on your health and mindset so you can feel your best and make the most out of your vacation whether it’s a beach trip or weekend away.
Our trip to Hawaii showed me that the best years are not over for us and I’m so excited to embrace this next season of life! Whatever stage of life you are in, I want to encourage you that you are not too old and it’s not too late for you!