by Colleen Cook
Last week, our President and CEO Mike Miller took his youngest daughter to move into college for the first time. As a mother of tiny people (my kids are under 4 years old), that moment seems very far off, and yet I'm alarmed at how quickly it comes. When I started at the Renaissance, Mike's daughter Jessica was a middle school student, so it hardly seems possible enough time has passed for her to move into her college dorm.
Perhaps you're in the same boat as the Millers, empty nesting for the first time with a remarkably open calendar for the first time in two decades. No longer are you tied to the local school sports and music calendar - the band concerts, the soccer games, and carting your people to countless practices and events is all in the rearview mirror. While that's undoubtedly met with mixed emotions (I can only imagine the wreck I will be as we pull away from our kiddos for the first time, good heavens), it can be invigorating to do what you want to do in your free time for the first time since you brought these people into the world.
Here are our suggestions on three new things to put into your calendar that you probably weren't doing during the high school years:
1. Get more involved in the community.
How many fun, purposeful, social, philanthropic, and community-oriented events have you said no to in the past decade because you needed to keep your evenings open (or they were already booked up by family things)? Now's the time to go to the Business After Hours, the Coffee Talks, the Book Readings, the lectures, the local meet-ups. These first years of being a parent of college students is the perfect opportunity to make some new friends, volunteer, and rediscover your interests and your purpose. Join a book club or an affinity group (like our new Symphony Chug, symphonic music meet-up), volunteer at a local non-profit, or be a part of a committee working to make an impact on the community - now's your moment!
2. Go on dates.
Whether you're happily married or happily single, you're free again to go out and enjoy the nightlife in your town. Whether you're coming to a show or a concert at the Renaissance, or taking advantage of the Wine and Ale Trail, or simply just spending an evening downtown, your time is yours again and you're free to stay out late with no worries about getting everyone up and out the door in the morning.
3. Take up a new hobby.
Become a master gardener, learn to knit, take an art class, or learn to use that DSLR you bought and still shoot on automatic mode. Refining your skills not only expands your world, it's a great way to make some new friends (that aren't only parents of your children's friends) and explore parts of yourself that have been lying dormant for years.