10 Best Books for Empty Nesters

10 Best Books for Empty Nesters

 The 10 Best Books for Empty Nesters

 

I have read a whole lot of empty nester books preparing for this post and only one was completely terrible. (I opted not to include it in this list.) Each of these 10 Best Books for Empty Nesters offers something different – some are about the grief of an empty nest, some are about parenting adult children, some aren't really about empty nesting at all, but are so relevant for our stage of life.

For more empty nest resources and ideas:

What is Empty Nest Syndrome? (And what to do about it)

Over 50 Empty Nest Hobbies

The 10 Best Empty Nest Books

 

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see the full disclosure in the foot bar.  

Best Books for Empty Nest Syndrome

“Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest” by Barbara Rainey and Susan Yates

Best quote from the book:  “It is helpful to articulate the challenges and then choose to focus on the blessings of each distinct season. When we define the challenges and discuss them with others, we discover that we are normal! When we are intentional in looking for the blessings, we discover the joys that God has prepared for us. It's important to remember that no season lasts forever. We want to really live in each unique time and miss nothing.”

Barbara Rainey and Susan Yates are both involved in Christian ministry. The outline for this book was developed from a gathering they hosted inviting women to come and “join in a lively discussion of the season of the empty nest.” The 23 attendees “ranged from  a mother whose oldest was a sophomore in high school to a young widow whose kids were grown.” 

This book is a very practical guide covering topics like parenting your adult children, menopause, marriage, and “what's next?” It has a small group and study guide in the back of the book. The book gives practical tips and steps to take in working through the transition to an empty nest including plans for empty nest celebrations with just your husband or with your girl friends.

“Release My Grip” by Kami Gilmore

Best quote from the book:

“…the person I need to keep pointing him (her son) to as he faces these big life choices is not me, it's God. That is the greatest contribution I can give him as his mother.”

“Release My Grip” is a workbook for Christian mothers to help us release our tightly held grips on our children and entrust our children to God. A friend of mine said this in an empty nest facebook group: “I am not sure who recommended the book, ‘Release My Grip,' but I wanted to say ‘thank you.' It was a really good read.”

Each chapter of this book includes a touching and sometimes humorous story by the author. She also includes journal prompts, other activities and prayers. One chapter even deals with what to do when your child calls and is out of money. Allowing our child some financial discomfort is not something we are immediately comfortable with.

Kami says in the introduction, “The stories in this book are a collection of ‘aha' moments I journaled while standing knee-deep in the season of releasing my grip as my daughter left the nest followed by my son a few years later.”

“A View from an Empty Nest” by Bonnie Beth Sparrman

Best Quote in the Book: 

“And give yourself time. You didn't adjust to motherhood overnight, and the same is true for letting them go.”

“A View from an Empty Nest” is a small devotional book and would make a great gift for a new empty nest mom. There are 42 chapters that are short and can be read in less than 5 minutes. Her subtitle is “Surprising, Poignant, Wonderful Things on the Horizon.”

Bonnie aims through her devotionals to lead the empty nester to a peaceful, happy, and fulfilled life. She encourages us to work on our marriages and to lean on God during this transition.

“Chicken Soup for the Soul”

I don't have a quote from this book because it is a different sort of book. It is a collection of stories written by many authors about their empty nest experiences. Many are quite touching and tear-jerking, so if you are in the throws of grief, this may not be the book for you. The book gives you empathy and lets you know others feel like you do, but it does not give tips to get past the grief.

I enjoyed many of the stories as they are so well written and not preachy. I appreciated that there were also stories from parents whose nests will never be empty because their children have disabilities. This book is appropriate for people of all faiths.

Best Books for Parenting Adult Children

“Empty Nest, Full Life” by Jill Savage

Best Quote in the Book: 

“What if you did not think of it as ‘too late' but rather as ‘just in time' to make a difference in the second half of your marriage, or in your ability to have a healthy relationship with your adult kids, or to influence young lives as a grandparent, or for you to experience the freedom you long for?”

I had a hard time coming up with just one quote because this book contained so many. It is the deepest, most vulnerable, and raw of all of the books I read. The first half of the book concerns relationships with adult children. She has truly struggled and come out the other side including loving her homosexual son and his friends and dealing with mental illness in another son. Her insight into what drives us as parents to try to control our adult children and beat ourselves up if they do not “turn out” like we would have wanted is unmatched in any of the other books I read.

Another quote: 

“… I'd made my children's behavior an idol. I was using them to define myself. In order to have a healthy relationship with my kids, I had to let go of my idols.”

The second half of the book is about the empty nest, our relationships with our spouses, and how we plan to live out the rest of our lives. She is very encouraging and gives many practical tips for a “full life.”

“Doing Life with Your Adult Children” by Jim Burns

Best Quote in the Book: 

“No parent wants to see a child end up homeless, make unwise decisions, or lead a negative lifestyle. But this is where parents must face their fears and decide what is best for their child in the long run.”

“Doing Life with your Adult Children” is a practical guide to having good relationships with your grown children. He covers topics such as when to insert your opinion, avoiding entitlement, in-laws, and stepfamilies, grandchildren, and financial planning (including estate planning) with your kids.

Other Helpful Empty Nest Books

“Back Roads to Belonging” by Kristen Strong

Best Quote in the Book: 

“Could it be, in those dark times of change, when we long to belong in a larger place but see no evidence of growth there, that the growth is moving in a downward direction? That growth is happening where roots reach and spread and become stronger? Yes, because growth still happens in the dark, and good things grow from lowly, dark places”

Kristen Strong is no stranger to change, having moved many times during her husband's military career. Kristen's experiences of having to find new places to belong every few years shadow the life of a new empty nester looking for new places to belong now that the years of finding friends in booster clubs and chaperoning youth group are over. Her words are soothing and inspiring and give practical tips for finding your place after big changes.

“The Happiness Dare” by Jennifer Dukes Lee

Best Quote in the Book: 

“Happiness isn't apart from God. It is a part of him.”

“The Happiness Dare” takes on the often held Christian belief that God is not interested in our happiness. As empty nesters finding new avenues of joy and happiness is essential to our health. I shared insight from this book in the post Why an Empty Nest Makes Us Sad. She absolutely nails what sometimes robs us of joy as our children leave.

 “Slay Like a Mother” by Katherine Wintsch

Best Quote from the Book:

“The negative voice in your head is an overly dramatic interpretation of what's going on in your life, as told by the most fragile parts of your ego.”

One of the most moving experiences of the last few months for me involved this book. I attended a blogging conference and Katherine Wintsch was one of the speakers.

We each entered the room to find a copy of “Slay Like a Mother” in our chairs. I did not know many people at the conference and I sat down next to a very young woman on the end of an aisle. The lights went down in the room and a video began to play. The video was of women reading the last negative thing they had said to themselves off of index cards. Then pairs of women told each other what they had written down. In each case the women embraced each other and encouraged the other that she was better than what was on that card. There was not a dry eye in the room.

Then the lights came up and Katherine told us to turn to the person next to us and tell her the last negative thing we had said to ourselves. I said, “I can't do this” – meaning the conference. I was scared out of my mind because the people there were BIG TIME and had sponsors and the speakers were bloggers with STAFFS!! I am a small one gal operation. The girl next to me then said, “Everyone would be better off without me.”

I immediately hugged her and tears came down my cheeks because, Girl, I have thought that way more times than I would like to admit. And I know it is NOT TRUE, but sometimes we women are that down on ourselves.

I recommend this book with full disclosure that IT IS NOT A CHRISTIAN BOOK. However, as women who have reached midlife, we often have issues that we have struggled with for 30+ years that we have never dealt with and it may be time to deal. I am taking advantage of having more time than ever by reading books like this, seeing a therapist, and listening to positive books and podcasts. If you have even one “issue,” I encourage you to read “Slay Like a Mother.”

It is actually written for younger mothers, but the principals are the same. We all need to learn “How to Destroy What's Holding You Back so You Can Live the Life You Want.”

 

“All My Friends Have Issues” by Amanda Anderson

Best Quote from the Book:

I listened to this book on Audible, so it is hard to go back and find the BEST quote, but here is the first line of the first chapter.

“Bathrooms, though unhygienic and accident-likely places to use one's phone, are often where I make and receive important, authentic communications.”

Amanda Anderson writes a funny and poignant book about friendships (and why we need them even if everyone we meet is imperfect). As empty nesters we often have to find new friends. She encourages us that it is worth the effort. I enjoyed listening to this book because it is read by the author and she is genuinely funny!! I have now ordered the paperback version of “All My Friends Have Issues,” so I can go back and highlight everything that you can't highlight while you are driving a car. I am also thinking about using it for a small group I am in.

 

These are my Top 10 Best Books for Empty Nesters. I would love to know if you have read any books that would give encouragement to women who are empty nesters. Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

 

What is Your

Empty Nest Super Power?

How to Own Your Nest, Live your Passion, and Love your Life!

 

More from Almost Empty Nest:

crockpot meals for two
8 Must Follow Instagram Accounts for Empty Nesters

8 Must Follow Instagram Accounts for Empty Nesters

8 Must Follow Instagram Accounts for Empty Nesters

 

Are you on Instagram? If not, then grab yourself an account and start following these 8 Must Follow Instagram Accounts for Empty Nesters. Instagram is different than Facebook in that every post has a picture. It is very visual and is more about inspiring you than the sharing of opinions. (In that way alone, it can be a refuge from an onslaught of politics and other news when you need an escape from it.)

For more Empty Nest Resources:

Why Does an Empty Nest Make us Sad (and what to do about it)

The 10 Best Books for Empty Nesters

8 Must Follow Instagram Accounts for Empty Nesters

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

 

The accounts below are accounts I follow and enjoy seeing what the owners are up to with their posts. Below I share what makes these accounts the best Instagram Accounts for Empty Nesters.

  • Empty Nest Blessed

    I love Suzy of Empty Nest Blessed. She shares fashion looks for women in our age group. She is as cute as can be and shares fun photos of herself wearing the clothes in different environments – sometimes in front of the mirror in her bedroom, sometimes around Dallas, Texas, and sometimes on her travels.

 

  • Fabulous After 40

    Deborah of Fabulous After 40 is from Canada and wowza! I want to look like her when I grown up. She is some kinda gorgeous and her fashion sense is flawless.  Her look is very high end, but many of the clothes come from Amazon and Nordstrom Rack. She even has a story highlight with looks from Walmart.

 

  • Feathered Empty Nest

    Lisa of Feathered Empty Nest is very relatable. She is sharing her journey of going gray and she is rocking it!! She shares pictures of her family and her hobby of axe throwing. (I may need to add that one toEmpty Nest Hobbies post.) One of her story highlights is of the “downsized” empty nest home she and her husband recently built.

 

  • Jill Savage

    Jill Savage is the author of the book “Empty Nest, Full Life: Discovering God's Best for Your Next.” I am currently reading this book and it is awesome! (Full review to come.) Her feed is full of encouragement and pictures of her with her husband and grown children.

     

     

  • Grown and Flown

    Grown and Flown is well known as one of the go to places for advice on parenting teens and college students. They often share posts from their readers in their feed. Their posts are usually touched with a bit of humor and the sense that “they have been there” and understand what you are going through.

     

     

  • Care Package Cult

    Care Package Cult is a new account. They want to share care package ideas. There are a lot of accounts with care packages that you can follow, but they are usually selling them – nothing wrong with that – but if you just want ideas, Care Package Cult is sharing pictures of ideas that they find.

     

 

  • Enneagram and Coffee

    Enneagram and Coffee has nothing to do with being an Empty Nester, but it is my very FAVORITE Instagram account. It makes me laugh and I find it spot on for myself and others. Take an Enneagram test, find your number, and join the fun!

 

  • Almost Empty Nest

    Yes, this is my account! I would love to have you as a follower and interact with you. I like to post pictures of my family and news of what is going on at Almost Empty Nest. Don't miss the latest happenings around here.

 

Join the Instagram fun and follow these Instagram Accounts for Empty Nesters with me!

 

 

 

What is Your

Empty Nest Super Power?

How to Own Your Nest, Live your Passion, and Love your Life!

 

More from Almost Empty Nest:

crockpot meals for two
What is Empty Nest Syndrome?

What is Empty Nest Syndrome?

What is Empty Nest Syndrome (and What To Do About It)

 

Empty Nest syndrome is something many women (and men) experience after their last child has left home. I have read through many threads in empty nest Facebook groups with comment after comment stating just how sad and miserable the commenter is in their empty nest.

The basic reason why we might be sad is that our children have left home and there is a whole new life to adjust to. But there are several more layers underneath the adjustment causing empty nest syndrome.

More Empty Nest Resources:

The 10 Best Empty Nest Books

What is Empty Nest Syndrome?

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

 

A quick “google” of empty nest syndrome will tell you that empty nest syndrome is the “sadness or emotional distress affecting parents whose children have grown up and left home.”

I came to a better understanding of what causes it after reading “The Happiness Dare” by Jennifer Dukes Lee.

Ms. Lee writes:

After much research and testing, I concluded that there are five major determinants of happiness. They are:

  • Believing that one's life has purpose
  • Having a sense of belonging
  • Culling happiness from moments and experiences
  • Helping others feel loved and cherished
  • Using the power of our minds to learn, play, and dream”

Eureka! I shouted when I read this. These are exactly the things a parent loses if they have not determined in advance from where they will derive these determinants of happiness once their children leave home.

If all of your purpose, sense of belonging, moments, experiences, love, and dreams are wrapped up in your children, you will have none of these things left when they leave.

So, sister, her list is where you need to start to get your life back. You must find new purposes. You must find new places to belong. You must find moments and experiences that do not involve your children. You must find others to love and cherish. And you must find new things for your mind to learn, play, and dream.

Is that an easy task?

Not usually.

But, with some effort you can do it. Here are some steps.

  1. Start with your interests. Take the Empty Nest Super Power Quiz. The quiz will help you determine areas of interest and places to focus your time and mind.
  2. Read through your results and follow the Empty Nest Super Power Guide.
  3. Keep researching, reading, and listening to positive sources of inspiration.
  4. Get help if you need it. If you are so low that you have lost interest in even trying to find new purposes, get help. A good place to start is with your primary care physician. They can help you determine if you have a deeper depression. They can then recommend counseling and/or medication that will help you adjust to your new circumstances.
  5. Most importantly, do not give up.

No one ever promised that dropping your last child off at college or helping them move into their first place was going to be easy, but it is not impossible either. Empty Nest Syndrome can be overcome. You just have to take the first step. If your nest is not yet empty, prepare in advance by exploring your interests and new places to belong once your nest is empty.

 

 

What is Your

Empty Nest Super Power?

How to Own Your Nest, Live your Passion, and Love your Life!

 

More from Almost Empty Nest:

crockpot meals for two
Empty Nest Hobbies: Blogging

Empty Nest Hobbies: Blogging

Empty Nest Hobbies: Blogging

 

The first line I ever wrote as I began my blogging hobby was, “I left my first-born on the sidewalk in front of a Shipley's Donuts in Waco, TX.” I wrote it a few months after dropping him off at college. Something had happened as we pulled out of the donut shop parking lot by the Baylor University campus that day. I realized that in 5 years I would have dropped off all three of my children at college.

I also realized that meant I had 5 years to figure out what I wanted to do with myself once my children were gone. On a whim I googled “how to start a blog” and my empty nest hobby of blogging was born.

For over 50 more Empty Nest Hobby Ideas: Empty Nest Hobbies

For more Empty Nest Resources: Why Does an Empty Nest Make us Sad (and what to do about it)

Empty Nest Hobbies: Blogging

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

 

My blogging journey has been rewarding and challenging. It has engaged every part of my brain, forced me to learn some creative skills I did not previously possess, and has brought wonderful and supportive friends into my life. If you love to write or have a skill, adventure, message or anything else you would like to share with the world and don't mind a challenge, blogging may be the empty nest hobby for you. 

 

How I started Blogging:

I had always wanted to write and constantly walked around with ideas swirling around in my head about what I wanted to write about.  After just concluding my son's senior year, the college preparation and application process, and dropping him off, I suddenly knew what I wanted to write about. I wanted to help other moms who were in my same shoes and just as clueless as I had been about how everything college worked. I also wanted to write about my own journey from a full nest of chicks to an empty nest and encourage other moms through the process. The name “Almost Empty Nest” came to me and the domain was available and my blog was born!

If you would like to start blogging, here are the steps:

Name your Blog

  • The first thing you need is a domain (the name of your website). Depending on your plans, the name should either be your own name or have a name that someone might google if they are looking for information on your topic. I do not suggest choosing something that is too cute or that will not be relevant in a few years. (I notice gals naming their blogs things like “diapers and tantrums” and such. Unless you really want to write about diapers and tantrums for the rest of your blogging life, it is not a good name.) 
  • If you are looking at more of a writing and/or speaking career, it is recommended that you blog under your own name.
  • Before settling on a name, find out what social media handles are available. I did not do this, so I do not have “almost empty nest” consistently across all of the social media platforms. If you can find one name that is available as a domain and on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest you have struck gold.
  • I purchase and maintain my domains with Siteground. They are also my host. To me it is convenient to have both my domain ownership and my hosting in one place.

 Decide on Hosting

  • You will need a host for your website. You can blog completely for free with several platforms, but you will not own your name.
  • If you want something that you own, you will have to pay for a host. I use Siteground. Many people will recommend Blue Host. They recommend Blue Host because they have a great referral program. Blue Host is cheap, but you will quickly need to upgrade your service with them and that is costly. I used Blue Host at first and ran into problems which were going to require an upgrade to correct. On the advice of more experienced bloggers, I switched to Siteground and have been with them for almost 4 years. 

 Install WordPress

  • There are website platforms other than wordpress, but I can't imagine using them. WordPress is the gold standard in the industry. WordPress is free. Use the instructions from your host to install it.

 Choose a Theme

  • You can start with a free WordPress theme. Your theme is the beginnings of how your website looks. You can browse through the free WordPress themes and pick one you like. Once you have been blogging a while and figure out all the things you want your website to do that cannot be done with a free theme (or a significant knowledge of coding), you can upgrade to a premium theme and/or hire someone to design your website for you. I use DIVI by Elegant Themes for my theme.

 Start Your Blog

  • You are ready for your first post! Write it and send it out to all of your friends and family and ask them to subscribe to your blog. There are a number of free options like Mailchimp for setting up newsletters. If you blog for a while and love it and want a top of the line email service, I use Convert Kit.

 Blogging Education

  • There are an unlimited number of folks who will try to sell you blogging courses with the promise of teaching you how to make gobs of money online. DO NOT FALL FOR IT! Blogging for profit is HARD WORK and is not a get-rich-quick-scheme. 
  • Only purchase courses from experienced bloggers who have actually accomplished what you want to accomplish.
  • Be wary of courses taught by bloggers who only “blog about blogging.”
  • Here is a list of courses I have taken that I believe are worth every penny. I have no financial interest in your purchase of any of these courses.
    • Elite Blog Academy:  I was fortunate enough to buy this course several years ago when the course cost much, much less. It is the most comprehensive course I am aware of on blogging. It will eat your lunch! It took me over a year to complete it. BUT, it will lay down the basics and beyond of what it takes to share your work with more than your friends and family and to start making some money.
    • Pin Practical Masterclass: This course will teach you everything you need to know about Pinterest. It is the only course recommended by Kate Ahl, who is basically the guru of all things Pinterest. I purchased this course for my daughter so she could quickly get up to speed on Pinterest and help me with my account.
    • Dominate the Search Engines: I met the gals who wrote this course at a blogging conference. They teach everything about helping your content rank on Google. 

 Podcasts

  • Listening to podcasts is a great way to learn while you drive around in your car or are at home and the best part is that they are FREE! If the host offers courses and other paid services, their podcast will let you get to know them for as long as you want before diving into their paid products.
  • The number one Podcast I recommend is the Simple Pin Podcast by Kate Ahl. I learned almost everything I know about Pinterest from this Podcast.
  • Goal Digger with Jenna Kutcher: She has a fun, relaxed, and authentic tone that is easy to listen to and is educational.
  • Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield: Another solid blogging podcast with a great host.

 

Join Me

  • If you do start a blog, write me and let me know. I will feature any blogs started as an empty nest hobby on this post!

 

What is Your

Empty Nest Super Power?

How to Own Your Nest, Live your Passion, and Love your Life!

 

More from Almost Empty Nest:

crockpot meals for two
Empty Nest Hobbies

Empty Nest Hobbies

Empty Nest Hobbies

 

Finding yourself in an empty nest can be both scary and exciting. Suddenly you have a lot more time on your hands. No more weekend sports and activities or waiting up for your teen to get in at night. It may be time to remember all those things you were gonna do “someday” and actually do them – like taking up a new hobby.

This post lists over 50 new Empty Nest Hobbies for you to consider at you think about how you would like to spend your time now that your last child is off to college.

For more Empty Nest Resources: Why Does an Empty Nest Make Us Sad (and what to do about it)

Empty Nest Hobbies

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. For more information, see the full disclosure in the foot bar. Thank you for supporting Almost Empty Nest.

Depending on your personality and interests there are so many possibilities for an empty nest hobby. I have linked to other posts on Almost Empty Nest and other bloggers who blog about these hobbies so you can get more information about how to get started and how to enjoy your new hobbies to the fullest.

Empty Nest Hobbies for Adventurers

  • Travel
  • RV travel: Follow my friend LuAnn Street and her husband as they blog about their RV adventures at Streets Wander.
  • Camping
  • Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
  • Cross Fit

 

Empty Nest Hobbies for those who love the Outdoors

  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • RV Travel
  • Bee Keeping
  • Gardening
  • Bird watching
  • Geocaching

 

Empty Nest Hobbies for those who love staying Physically Active

  • Cross Fit
  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • Biking
  • Running
  • Yoga

 

Empty Nest Hobbies for those who want to Connect with Others

  • Volunteering
  • Dance Lessons
  • Entertain/throw parties or start a dinner club
  • Exercise classes
  • Whatever your interest join a club and explore your hobby with other enthusiasts.

 

Empty Nest Hobbies for Creatives

Empty Nest Hobbies for those who love to Learn

  • Go back to school
  • Reading
  • Learn a new language
  • Technology
  • Financial Planning
  • Start a podcast
  • Collecting

I hope you will use these ideas for Empty Nest Hobbies to enrich your life and have fun. While no hobby ever replaces your children, it can be exhilarating to discover new things and explore ideas you have always wanted to, but never had the time to before.

 

What is Your

Empty Nest Super Power?

How to Own Your Nest, Live your Passion, and Love your Life!

 

More from Almost Empty Nest:

crockpot meals for two
Empty Nest Hobbies: Quilting

Empty Nest Hobbies: Quilting

Empty Nest Hobbies: Quilting

 

This is a guest post by Maria Gee of Scissortailquilting.

Hello, there! My name is Maria Gee from ScissortailQuilting. As part of Laura’s series on “Empty Nest Hobbies,” she invited me to tell you the story of how I became a quilter when I was an (almost) empty nester.

You might be thinking what I thought: Quilting is the stereotypical hobby for an empty-nesting mom. True. I won’t argue that. 

Now before you roll your eyes and snub the idea of quilting cause it’s for grandmas, hear me out on one thing:

Quilting was never on my radar.

 

Empty Nest Hobbies: Quilting

 

  • Quilting would not have been my hobby of choice 15 years ago

I vividly remember a friend of mine talking about her quilting when my children were young. I didn’t get it, and it didn’t interest me in the least. But I was happy she had her hobby. On the day that I announced to my family that I was taking up quilting, I think I was the most shocked person in the room. You see, as our boys were growing up, my vision for the empty nest years was to take golf lessons and spend more time on the links with my husband. That was not to be.

While I have always been a crafty type, my tendency was to be a “quick and dirty” crafter. I mean, I love creating, but I tend to be an “instant results” type of girl. My husband can tell you that when it comes time to work on a project, I’m really good for about a day, but then I expect to knock that sucker off my list, losing patience if it goes past the “acceptable” time frame. My preconceived opinion (which was partially true) was that quilting was more of a “long game” type of pursuit, so I would have never thought it was for me. I will elaborate more on this later.

The other reason quilting came as a surprise was that I had a love/hate relationship with my sewing machine. When I was a child I loved ANYTHING that had to do with a needle and thread. When I was about 10 years old my mother taught me to use our old Singer sewing machine. I found it utterly fascinating. But somewhere in my teen years, the sewing machine came to symbolize things that I wanted to steer clear of. Mainly memories of me and my mother nearly ripping out each other’s throats because I needed to rip out a seam or a zipper AGAIN! It reminded me of stressful times. So in my adult years, I would occasionally sew for the home, but I tended to stay away from projects that I thought might get complicated.

  • So how did I end up quilting?

It was the summer before our oldest son’s senior year in high school. After years of crazy frantic activity, I was so weary of my home feeling like it was in constant disarray. It needed some TLC. (I can feel you nodding your head and relating to me…) While attending football games, soccer tournaments and cello concerts, I would dream of how I was going to take back control of the ever-mounting piles of stuff in my boys’ rooms.

Don’t get me wrong: I knew I was going to miss them greatly when they left, but I was itching to get started on reclaiming the nest. Let’s just say that there is still a lot of nesting that goes on during those almost empty nest years!

I reasoned that I could get a jump start on it by making new curtains for their rooms. Then, I even thought that once I got my foot in the door, I might be able to make some early progress on the clutter. The only problem was that my sewing machine was broken.

  • Enter Miss Emma

That friend I mentioned earlier is my friend Emma, who is an avid quilter. She had graciously offered to let me borrow one of her sewing machines. When I arrived to pick it up, she invited me into her sewing room. I had never seen this part of her home, and I was a little awed to discover that her room was lined with ribbons from all the quilting awards she had won over the years. But I wasn’t surprised.

Emma standing in front of a log cabin quilt which later won a blue ribbon at our local quilt show.

Burlap tablecloth I made using Emma’s sewing machine

My first quilt was a simple 9-patch design. I hand tied and “big stitch” quilted the sashing.

 

 

I should tell you a bit more about Emma. Emma is a woman about 30 years my senior. One reason we are so close is that we were in the same Bible study group for about 10 years, and we also worked together as part of the Children’s Ministry at our church. She is dear to me for many reasons, but mainly because she “gets” me. So many times she has pulled me aside in private to share a bit of wisdom. I’ve always been appreciative of this because each time it has been clear to me that she is paying loving attention to my life and noticing what is going on. It’s a rare find in today’s world to find a friend like that because so often people are more focused on their own worries. In many ways, she is my “other” mother.

As I lugged the machine out to the car, she asked me what I planned to make. “Just some curtains and maybe a tablecloth. Straight seams only. Nothing complicated,” I answered.

“You should try making a quilt,” she replied.

“I don’t think that’s ever gonna happen! That’s a little above my skill level.” I scoffed back.

“Well, perhaps, but it’s really only straight seams, too.”

I eagerly got to work sewing those curtains, but Emma had planted a seed. While I stitched along, I thought that a quilt would be nice to match those curtains. A sense of guilt kept gnawing at me for how dismissive I had been to Emma’s suggestion, as it was her passion. I thought to myself, “Emma has known me for a very long time. She “gets” me, and the least I should do is give it a try before I totally blow off something that means so much to her.”

BTW: Emma has a fantastic story for how she became a quilter, and it’s actually much better than mine. You can read all about it here: How My Friend Emma Overcame Adversity and Learned to Quilt

 

  • Just “Google” quilting

I decided to look on Google for quilting information, and thought maybe I could find some simple instructions for how to make a basic quilt. A quick internet search and I soon realized that there were many types of quilts in the world. Whenever someone mentioned quilts, my mind’s eye conjured up this image of quilts made with mismatched, worn fabrics and poorly coordinated colors. That image wasn’t exactly something I thought I would want in my home. But what I found in my google search was anything but that. It was a feast for the eyes!. I’m a graphic designer by trade, and the designs I was seeing were a delight. They were vibrant. They were interesting. They were fresh and modern.

I soon realized that there was a huge quilt revival happening on the internet, fueled mostly be the younger generation. They were organizing new guilds and online quilt alongs. The quilters I found were not only the traditional stereotype of old church ladies. They came from all walks of life and many of them were in the middle of raising children.

 

  • My first quilt

I decided to start with a simple 9-patch. My favorite color is black (oops…hope you don’t judge me too harshly for that!) and so I found some fabrics I liked in black, gray and citrine. 

 

 

  • The “long game” process of quilting

I mentioned earlier that I did not consider myself a “long game” crafter, and quilting is a long-term process.  There is actually a well known company in the quilting industry called “Quilt in a Day.” I always thought that was kind of comical, because everyone knows that a quilt isn’t made in a day. But the truth is that the woman behind this particular company (Eleanor Burns) created many techniques in the 70’s that make quilting much faster than it used to be. Things like “rotary cutting” “chain piecing” and “strip piecing” have all revolutionized and made the craft speedier.

Getting started with making a quilt doesn’t need to be intimidating, either. There are plenty of beginner-friendly patterns that are much more interesting than my beginner 9-patch. A really good way to start is with a rag quilt or a simple log cabin.

Another thing I soon realized about quilt making is that the process can be easily broken up into various tasks, and most tasks can be “completed” in a single sitting. For example, you might spend a few hours one evening cutting your pieces. After that, you begin making blocks. Usually several blocks can be made in an evening. A few weeks later, you’ll start putting those blocks into rows. Next, you’ll sew those rows together and maybe add a border. Then, you’ll make a “quilt sandwich” and then “quilt the quilt.” Finally, you’ll attach a binding. Breaking the task down like this helped me feel like I was finishing something along the way even though the quilt might have a long way to go. I realized early on that an entire quilt was easily completed step-by-step in usually 4-6 weeks.

 

  • But here’s why I really love quilting

As I made each block in that first quilt, I realized there was something oddly satisfying to me about the process. You take this perfectly good and beautifully designed fabric, you rip it apart, and hope that when you are finished putting it all back together and mixing it up with lots of other perfectly-good ripped up fabrics, you will end up with something beautiful.

It occurred to me that this was a bitter-sweet analogy for life. Often things have to come undone before they get better. Your family sometimes has to be “torn” apart before it can really grow. It clicked with me why so many empty nesting moms turn to the art of quilting.. We are at that point in life when we feel like all we’ve done for so long might just be coming undone. As those children leave the home we need to believe that it’s actually growing into something better.

 

  • Always learning and always sharing

I jumped in with both feet, eager to learn everything I could about quilting, and never looked back or regretted that choice. Emma was a great source of information during those first years. She would take me to all the quilt shops and quilt shows, pointing out things I should notice, sharing a little tip or quilting strategy. She even helped me research and replace my old broken down sewing machine. Best of all, she introduced me to the the quilt guild and to many quilters in my area, who are a wonderfully supportive bunch. Not only had I gained a new hobby, but I gained a whole new community of friends.

About a year after I started my quilting journey, I was laid off from my job, and before I found full-time employment, I took a part time job at a quilting shop. This catapulted me into the quilting industry and exposed me to an even deeper level of quilting knowledge much quicker than I would have been able to acquire on my own.

It’s been nearly nine years since I started my quilting journey. These days I primarily focus on creating what my kids call “the world’s greatest quilting website” where I share what I know with other’s in the quilting community. One thing I can say for sure: It keeps me learning and I never get bored!

  • Do you think quilting might the right hobby for you?

I’d encourage you to start off like I did, with a simple internet search to just take a peek into all the possibilities that are out there. And, if you want to learn more, please stop by ScissortailQuilting.com to visit and explore.

For a list of over 50 Empty Nest Hobby Ideas: Empty Nest Hobbies

Maria Gee is crazy about quilts, and she’s the quilter behind ScissortailQuilting.com where she enjoys sharing her passion for quilting and life all who stood by to visit her there. Like most women, she’s done a lot of stuff in her life. Early on she taught High School mathematics, then worked as a systems analyst. She has served as a children’s ministry director, and is the mother of two amazing boys and a fabulous daughter-in-law, and stays busy keeping her husband in line. She currently works full-time as a graphic designer for a global membership organization. It sounds convoluted, but she can assure you there was a natural progression in all of those pursuits which led her ultimately to quilting. She would like nothing better than to spend the rest of her days (and possibly even her afterlife) making quilts.  

 
 
You can follow Maria on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest
 
 
 

 

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