Hello my empty nester friends. I wrote a series on Empty Nesting around this time last year, and a year later, I find my nest has filled up again. I know this is quite common so I am trying to remain upbeat & positive about it. I’m not going to lie, it was nice being on my own schedule yet it’s definitely nice to have my kids living with me again and being a part of their daily lives but…
The biggest challenge is our refrigerator. We are trying to have enough space in our single refrigerator (side-by-side freezer and fridge setup) for 5 people. My daughter and her husband buy their own food, so they get a shelf and a drawer. My son is partially buying his own food, but we also share things like eggs, juice, and cheese. He also has food allergies so he has his own drawer, and we share the remaining two shelves with him/my boyfriend/me. I decided to give up the last drawer to my boyfriend since he likes to stock fruit/yogurt/cold cuts, and I use what I can of the two shelves.
We make it work but it often requires a lot of juggling and rearranging on a consistent basis. I know they won’t be with us forever so it’s not worth getting a second fridge for extra space. We use stackable tupperware for leftovers in order to maximize space, and I shop on a weekly basis rather than trying to stock up on perishables. I wish I could tell you the freezer side is as well-organized but it seems to be a losing battle! I keep a shelf for my smoothie ingredients and other cooking supplies, and we have a shelf for make-ahead-and-freeze lunch containers, as well as the frozen veggie drawer. The other shelves can be a free-for-all so it’s important that I get in there at least a few times a month to rearrange where necessary and cook any food that is going past its prime.
We seem to do ok with sharing the laundry facility, and counter space for coffee and smoothie-making equipment and supplies which includes multiple blenders between me and my daughter! We are blessed with a large pantry with assigned shelves. The dishes are another story, and probably the biggest source of stress (besides puppy hair everywhere!!) I love my “granddog” but he is a shedder, and he is a black lab so it’s very noticeable. Thankfully we have a good supply of dishes and a dishwasher (maybe that’s a mixed blessing?), but my kids are still young enough to blame each other for the piles of plates and dishes that build up.
I think the most important component is good communication. I try to discuss issues as they arise, and treat my kids like adults. This is not always easy, and old habits can die hard. Hopefully I am teaching them how to be good housemates for the future, and will miss them …(Again)…when they do move out…(eventually).
Please share any tips you have for parents of kids who have returned to the nest and how you’ve made it work!