This summer has been monumental for me. I became an empty nester, and the experience wasn’t exactly what I expected. Having a kid-free space is something that young, struggling moms dream about (only having to cook for two people?!). It’s supposed to be a time of peacefulness, a time where you discover yourself again. 

But my initial reaction to having no kids around was more like, “now what?” We, as moms, define ourselves on how our kids are doing, and sometimes our own identities get lost in the shuffle. Our kids grow up and leave, and while we’re proud, we feel lost. Our whole existence for many years has consisted of schedules, homework, attending sporting events or club activities. 

But I’m finally ready to embrace being an empty nester. I’m ready to seize the day and get on with it. This fall, I am making a career change to a field I used to dream about. I’m taking a risk, and even if it doesn’t stick, I will have no regrets. At the very least, I’ll be proud that I dove into the deep end.

You may be thinking, why now? And my answer is this: it’s the right time. I am 53 years old. With age comes wisdom and curiosity. Here are a few tips that helped prepare me for this exciting time in my life, and perhaps they’ll prepare you too:

Make a bucket list.

Sit down and really think about what you want to do. Remember the young girl you once were who looked at life with her eyes opened wide. Think about what gave you butterflies. This list could consist of whatever makes you happy. No wish is too small.

Find what you used to love, and just do it.

For me, that was keeping a diary. I loved to write things down. So what did I do? I took an old diary and turned it into a book. My oldest son has special needs, and I wrote a book about raising him and my other son. The title is “Maternally Challenged.” I put my insecurities aside and just did it.

Make a game plan.

Every day, make a to-do list to achieve a goal and check things off as you go. I always feel that when you put pen to paper, it becomes more definite. You are physically checking it off. The feeling of satisfaction is right in front of you.

Remember that it’s never too late.

It’s never too late to start a new career, to go back to school, or to move to a different place. Embrace the journey! At this stage of our lives, we as women sometimes feel we have nothing to add to the conversation. Well, for me that is so not true. My mouth is loud and I still have so much to offer the world. Never underestimate yourself! We have all had adversities in our lives and always have come out the other side. Some of us may be a little beat up, but we still are standing.

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  • Kathy Chlan


    Hi, I'm Kathy Chlan - Unfiltered Kathy After years of being in the trenches of motherhood, I know how easy it is for your identity to get wrapped up in your kids. Now that mine are all out of the house, I’m a mom with new priorities: I’m trying to find me. This is a place for moms to embrace the mistakes we’ve made (and continue to make) with no judgments while we navigate a new phase of life. It's dysfunction at its best. As a mother of two with a special needs son, I know what it's like to have a family that doesn't fit the mould—and I love it. My kids are the gifts that keep on giving. I'm tipping a hat to my journalism past and sharing my perspective on the modern frontier for moms: treating yourself, finding your passions, saying no, and—of course—my family's crazy stories to help other moms realize that life isn't so bad. If you had a terrible day and screamed at your kid over Skype or in person, big deal. Here you'll find inspiration for moms who aren't sure about what they're doing. (And don't worry, there are a lot of us.) We've all got adversities in life. My response? Laugh through it.