17 Tips for Empty Nesting, College and Life Prep, and Parenting Teens

17 Tips for Empty Nesting, College and Life Prep, and Parenting Teens

17 Tips for Empty Nesting, College and Life Prep, and Parenting Teens

It’s been a strange week. I cut my finger slicing carrots, then I got tested for Covid after my sweet physician husband put on a steri-strip at his office.

I had texted him to say I could not get my finger to stop bleeding. He told me to come up to the office. His text auto-corrected to “steroid strip,” so I thought he had some magic strip that would stop the bleeding, but no, it was just a super tight band-aid. In addition to my gross finger I also complained of a scratchy throat, congestion, and a headache. Off to the lab I went. I really just wanted the magic bleeding-stopping strip and not the q-tip-up-my-nose-thing again.

My test was negative.

Read on for the 17 Tips for Empty Nesting, College and Life Prep, and Parenting Teens.



17 Tips for Empty Nesting

 17 Tips for Empty Nesting, College and Life Prep, and Parenting Teens

Join me and my co-host and friend Melanie Studer at the Next Phase Parenting Summit. 17 contributors will present their most amazing tips for empty nesting, college and life prep, paying for college, and parenting teens.

No proving you don’t have COVID and you don’t have to wear a mask, but it is fine if you do.

For three whole days you can interact with parenting, college and career prep, paying for college, and empty nesting experts. These are not just “experts,” but folks who have BEEN THERE. They will share their knowledge and their hearts on their topics.

You can also join the Free Facebook group to interact with other attendees and speakers, ask questions, and play fun games and win prizes!!

I’ll see you on the inside!



7 Best Holiday Planners

7 Best Holiday Planners

7 Best Holiday Planners 

Start your engines. It’s list making season.

Gift lists. Meal lists. Grocery lists. Budget lists. Event lists. Lists. Lists. Lists.

Every list reflects decisions made. How much to spend. What to cook. What to buy.

And of course, the most important decision is whether to create all of these lists on paper or your phone, computer, or tablet. (Or a combination.) This is a BIG decision.

I am a combo gal. There is no way I am adding up a column of numbers by hand no matter how cute the piece of paper is where I wrote the numbers down. I normally make my grocery list on the Alexa app, but Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner grocery lists are more complicated and need a piece of paper divided by section in the store.

No matter how you like to plan you can find your ideal planner in this list of 10 Best Holiday Planners.

7 Best Holiday Planners 1

7 Best Holiday Planners

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 Free Holiday Planners


Stress Less this Christmas with a FREE Printable Planner designed by Tammy Rotzell of Footprints of Inspiration. 


If you are digital all the way, check out this FREE holiday planning template designed to work with a FREE AirTable Account.

Best Holiday Planners

best holiday planners - the christmas project


 The Christmas Project by Kathi Lipp

I love how The Christmas Project is organized into projects with step-by-step directions for getting organized and having your best Christmas season.

best holiday planners


This beautiful Holiday Planner Bundle is currently on sale for $2.64!!!


most gorgeous holiday planner - best holiday planners



Turn up your holiday cheer with this absolutely gorgeous holiday planner. It is only $5.75!!

best holiday planners - digital



Prefer a digital solution to your planning? Check out this pretty Digital Holiday Planner.



I cannot imagine adding up a column of numbers by hand. For all things 2021 there is no reason to do that and risk math errors when Quicken will do this for you. You can make a Christmas budget, download all of your transactions from your bank and credit cards, categorize the expenses however you like, tag gift expenses by recipient, and print it all out in a handy report which you can pretty up with some stickers!

Other Holiday Planning Necessities

christmas planner stickers


I may be the only person out there who needs a line item in her budget for stickers, but there is no better way to cheer up your calendar than with a few stickers. I love Happy Planner stickers. 

These are my Top 7 Best Holiday Planners. Do you have a favorite holiday planner? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

How to Make New Year’s Resolutions

How to Make New Year’s Resolutions

How to Make New Year’s Resolutions using Mark 12:30


Many years ago I read an article about How to Make New Year’s Resolutions. The author said that you should make a resolution in each of these categories: financial, social, intellectual, and physical. Because I was a Christian, I added a spiritual category.

Several years later, after reading Mark 12:30, it occurred to me that every goal, whether physical, financial, social, or intellectual is ultimately a spiritual goal. We are called to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Our entire being works together in everything we do to honor our creator. This post tells you How to Make New Year’s Resolutions using Mark 12:30.

A FREE PRINTABLE 18 Page Workbook is available to assist you as you make your New Year’s Resolutions.

How to Make New Year's Resolutions with Mark 12:30

How to Make New Year’s Resolutions using Mark 12:30


Taking time to review the year behind and plan for the year ahead is a process everyone should undertake. As the Christmas decorations come down and we begin to rest from the frenzy of the prior days, sitting down for a few hours with a notebook, a pen, and a warm beverage to plan the year ahead is a gift we should give ourselves. Here are some steps to help you through the process:

Meditate on Mark 12:30.

“Love the Lord your God with all your HEART (relationships with others) and with all your SOUL (relationship with God) and with all your MIND (my intellect and skills) and with all your STRENGTH (my body, my finances, my time, my surroundings.)

HEART: relationships with others. Think about the relationships in your life. What do you need to do to improve these relationships? What relationships do you need to let go of? Who do you need to forgive? How can you live at peace with yourself and others?

Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

1 John 3:18: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.”

SOUL: relationship with God. What do you need to do to become closer to God?

        Psalm 119:175:  “Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.”

        I can’t recommend enough reading the entire chapter of Psalm 119 as you think on your  relationship with God

MIND: A vast category of learning and expanding. It’s not a category of just eliminating the pollutants, but enriching our thoughts with good books, good ideas, new skills, new people. Learn something new this year and use that skill in service to God and man.

Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

James 1:5:  “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

STRENGTH: physical goals – the bulk of most resolutions – weight, exercise, diet, finances, home improvement, careers, etc. This category could be called “taking care of business.”

These items are the things that strengthen or weaken our hearts, souls, and minds. If our “business” is out of whack, it strains our relationships with others and with God and keeps our minds focused in the wrong place. If our hearts, souls, and minds are out of whack, we have difficulty accomplishing our strengthening goals.

We may even add harmful habits to distract us from our hearts, souls, and minds. Think about what business you need to take care of. What to you need to do to keep your body healthy? How are you spending your money? Are you taking care of the home you are blessed with?

Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Luke 11:36: “Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

Ephesians 4:1: “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received”

Put your goals in writing.

 The FREE PRINTABLE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION WORKBOOK is a great place to write down your goals for the new year! 


How to Make New Year's Resolutions 2

Run some tests.

  • Is it realistic? Is the goal reasonable and accomplish-able or is it just a fantasy?
  • Is it measurable? Should it be measurable? How will you know if you have accomplished your goal or not? Some goals are easy to measure. Did you clean out the closet and give unneeded items to charity or sell them as part of your financial goals? Others are not easily measured, like relationships. While there are concrete, measurable steps that can be taken in your relationships, in the end, only you will know if you are at peace in your relationships.
  • Is it about bananas? Is it a fad or a narrow dictate from an article or book? I reference the lowly banana because periodically I see an article citing the diabolical consequences of eating bananas. Having spent 7 years attending high school cross country and track meets observing thousands of abnormally skinny kids consume millions of pounds of bananas, I can assure you that banana peels make a mess, but they are not the sole cause of an expanding waistline. Realize that certain items, like health and finances, can not be improved with one gimmicky change.
  • Is it a good use of resources and time? There are things that are not worth your time or resources and can become an obsession.

Make a plan – a real one.

Write it down! All the steps! Write them down!

 Be accountable.   

I’m not talking about bearing your soul to everyone on Facebook; just decide who or what is going to spur you on.

 Finally, be patient with yourself.

Resolve to love the person God created and not the one you wished he had created. Just keep moving forward. You can do it.

A new year is a time for self-reflection and planning. Following the instructions for How to Make New Year’s Resolutions Using Mark 12:30 as a guide will help you keep your plans and goals in perspective of the ultimate goal. May you be blessed in the new year.

Empty Nest Survival Kit

Empty Nest Survival Kit

Empty Nest Survival Kit 

Do you have a friend who is a new empty nester who could use some encouragement? Create an Empty Nest Survival Kit to put a smile on her face while she is going through the transition from a full nest to an empty nest. (It’s ok to make an empty nest survival kit for yourself!)

For more empty nest encouragement read all of my Empty Nest posts.



Empty Nest Survival Kit

 Empty Nest Survival Kit

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.   

What do you think should go in an empty nest survival kit? I have surveyed readers over the years, but am just now creating a kit. The key to a good empty nest survival kit and empty nester gift basket is knowing the recipient. While some items are a good idea for almost all empty nest survival kits, the more personal your gift is, the more it will be appreciated.



Many of these items were suggested by readers!

Books about empty nesting (or any topic they are interested in). Check out 10 Best Books for Empty Nesters for Ideas.

Audio book credits. (These are great for listening to on the road to visit the kids 😉 )

Bubble bath and other personal pampering items

Board and card games for two people (or more so they can invite you over to play)

Gift cards for hobbies and interests (Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, theater, movies, book stores)



Yard games like pickleball and croquet

Restaurant gift cards

Notebook for making a bucket list of all the things she would like to do like The Clever Fox Bucket List Journal

Nice pens to use to write in their bucket list notebook

The Couple’s Bucket List: 100 Fresh Date Night Idea Cards

Help them with some travel ideas with Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World’s Most Amazing Places

Popcorn for watching Netflix and other movie channels

New Bible or devotional books

Puppy (you should probably ask first!)

A night out or in with YOU!

Amazon Show to video call the kids (they will need one as well)

Puzzle (If you are ever sending an empty nest survival kit to me, this is what I would like!)

Empty Nester Christmas ornament or other gift ideas from 13 Gift Ideas for Empty Nesters

Empty Nest Survival Kit

How to Put Together your Empty Nest Survival Kit and Empty Nester Gift Basket:

Put your fun items together to create an empty nester gift basket and tie it up with a bow. I created this basket with a Springbok Puzzle, a gift card to Michael’s, some chocolate, wine, bath bombs, and Jill Savage’s Empty Nest, Full Life. Brighten the day of an empty nesting friend with an Empty Nest Survival Kit!

Help for Empty Nest Moms: Let Go of Impossible

Help for Empty Nest Moms: Let Go of Impossible

Help for Empty Nest Moms: Let Go of Impossible 

Letting go of the limiting belief that it will be impossible to overcome empty nest syndrome is a help for empty nest moms. As new empty nest moms we often believe we are trapped – trapped in circumstances that make it impossible to move forward after our kids leave home. We worry we are too old, have too much baggage, and have too many obligations. We think we don’t have enough money or time. Changing our mindset from impossible to possible is a crucial stage in a journey toward a fulfilling empty nest.

For all of my empty nest posts: Empty Nest Posts

Help for Empty Nest Moms

 Help for Empty Nest Moms: Let Go of Impossible

This post may contain 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. 

What issues are you facing which make you believe it is impossible to envision a fulfilling and even fun empty nest?



It is easy to think we are too old to achieve and experience new things. Our bodies are nothing like they were when we were in our twenties. There may be a handful of things we are indeed too old to do like… become an astronaut. But your age is mostly just a number. It does not define you. It does not dictate how you feel or what you do. How you feel and what you do is going to be determined by your health, your perseverance, and your willingness to step out in faith more than by the year of your birth. You can’t completely control your health, but you can take steps to avoid jeopardizing it.

If you believe you are too old to do anything meaningful, read the story of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 12-25. They started out on a journey to a new land to build a new nation when they were 75 and 65. You don’t need to know exactly where you are headed right now, but you do need to take some steps to move forward.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. Hebrews 11:8



We all have obligations like – work or aging parents. But some obligations are the result of overly needy people. Sometimes we have an adult child who refuses to take responsibility for themself or a coworker we are always covering for. We may feel so completely drained by these people that we have no energy for ourselves. And the thought of putting up boundaries causes us to feel guilty.

While I would never advocate a “me, me, me, and only me, talk to the hand” approach, we are never called by God or anyone else to be manipulated or have no boundaries. When we allow others to use us for their own gain or to avoid consequences, we are not serving them. We are codependents in their problems. It may not be easy or fun, but you may need to unentangle yourself from people who are holding you back.


Do you want a new season of hope and purpose, but believe the lie that “your past is your future?” Do you wake up every day weighed down by guilt and shame from decisions, sins, and even trauma you did not cause? Others have long since forgotten about it. They wake up every day thinking about themselves and their issues – not yours. No one has “cancelled” you except you!

Regardless of any circumstances, whether you caused them or not, you are not limited by them. You are allowed to be happy. You are allowed to be at peace. You are allowed to have a fulfilling future.

Is anything too hard for the LORD? Genesis 18:14



Money and time are resources and you are spending them somewhere. If you are spending all of yours on things you don’t want to spend them on, it is time for a change. Make sure you are tracking both and figure out where you need to reprioritize and reallocate. 



A few months after I dropped my oldest off at college, I began to think about my future. I mostly thought, “What on earth am I going to do with myself in five years when all of my children are away at school?” From that thought Almost Empty Nest was born. It occured to me others were going through this same journey and perhaps I could write my experiences down to help others. I set up this website on a complete whim. I had no plans for where it was headed.

Pay attention to the gentle nudges, the whims, the crazy ideas that pop into your head. They may be nothing or six years from now you may have a full-time business based on that crazy idea.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26



Nothing is impossible with God. It does not matter how old you are, how little money you have, how bad your physical and mental health are, how little time you have to think about your future, or what has happened up to this point – nothing is impossible. Letting Go of the belief that it is impossible is the best help for empty nest moms.

Adult Children Living at Home: 6 Best Tips for Parents

Adult Children Living at Home: 6 Best Tips for Parents

Adult Children Living at Home: 6 Best Tips for Parents

Fellow Empty Nest blogger Linda Hanstra shares her experiences with her adult children moving back home in this post: Adult Children Living at Home: 6 Best Tips for Parents.

I knew it would happen.

Just as I began to relish the empty-nest life–the silence, the freedom, the lack of clutter–my daughter said, “I’m coming home!”

I’ve enjoyed the serenity of empty-nesting for much of the past four years. Our “party of two” is much simpler than the “party of six” we had for many years prior. I appreciate the reduced workload of only caring, cooking, and cleaning for two. 

It’s a stark contrast to when the kids come home and the noise level increases, as do the grocery bill, the dirty dishes, and the clutter. They fill the guest rooms and every square inch of extra space in the house with stuff. Lots of stuff. I hope this post Adult Children Living at Home: 6 Best Tips for Parents will help you if you find your kids boomeranging back to the nest.

Adult children living at home

Adult Children Living at Home: 6 Best Tips for Parents

Having put four kids through college, I’ve experienced the Boomerang Kid scenario several times. I got used to their brief stays over school breaks and we learned to adjust, even for a whole summer. The biggest surprise was the extended visit during the pandemic of 2020 that doubled our household size overnight.

And here we are again, facing not one, but two boomerangs. With the recent college graduations of our final two kids (Woo-hoo!), our daughters are both coming home for…a while. With student loans to pay, an uncertain job market, and the cost of housing, it makes sense for them to avoid paying rent for a time. 

Are you making way for ducklings as well? Is your college kid returning home for the first time and you don’t know what to expect? Do you have a boomerang flying at you and you’re not sure how to catch it?

Let’s start by remembering our kids are no longer children, but rather young adults. They’re old enough to marry, buy a house, and have their own children, whether you (or they) are ready for it or not. With that adulthood comes a strong desire for independence. This means as parents, we step out of our former role as disciplinarian and commander-in-chief, and become (hopefully) a trusted advisor and friend instead. 

Here are the Adult Children Living at Home: 6 Best Tips for Parents to help you avoid potential conflicts, build lasting relationships, and gracefully catch that boomerang, and to live happily together.


If you don’t want to take on hours of extra work or spend all of your time nagging your young adult about cleaning up their dirty dishes, it’s important to assign chores and responsibilities early on. 

If your daughter had chosen (or hopes) to live on her own, she would do her own cooking. Every night. Asking her to make one or two meals a week not only helps you out, but is good practice for her. If your son has been away at college, he has learned how to do his own laundry. There’s no reason that should stop.


Don’t be afraid to talk openly about money. Or the lack thereof. For many young adults, it makes good financial sense to go back to their old digs for a time. As long as Mom and Dad haven’t downsized their home and there’s still a room available, why not? But this is usually not what either party desires for the long term. 

You can prepare your young adult for eventual independence by teaching them fiscal responsibility now. In exchange for free housing, require them to keep a budget, to pay off student loans, or even pay a small sum for the privilege of living at home. Review money matters with them regularly and determine what means are available as you help them plan a course of action for their financial future. 

If your child seems to be free-loading or taking advantage of you, it’s time to draw the line. Require job-searching goals and actions. If they can’t find their dream career, they may have to settle for flipping burgers for a time. Encourage them to move toward independence by setting reasonable limits on your handouts.


Your adult child receives many fringe benefits by living at home. Make a list of what you will provide and what you expect them to pay for or do in return. Don’t forget about internet, cell phones, and streaming services. Who will use them? Who will pay for them? 

What about transportation? Will you be juggling cars and who will pay for auto maintenance, insurance, and gas? If they don’t have means to pay in dollars yet, barter for a service, like mowing the lawn or weeding the garden. 


Will you be home for supper? 

Where are you going tonight? 

Will you be out late? 

What time do you work tomorrow?

Rather than a barrage of nagging questions, keep a family calendar to avoid schedule conflicts and surprises. Use texts or phone calls to check in. Let your young adult know what you expect and also what you need. Do you and your spouse miss your freedom and alone time? Let your kids know you want one night a week “sans kids.” 

Check out my Happy Together Checklists for talking points you’ll want to consider in kicking off clear communication. If it helps to put things in writing, consider creating an informal “lease,” outlining expectations for both sides.


Your standards of cleanliness and tolerance of clutter may differ from your young adult’s. Rather than make unrealistic demands that will erode your relationship, find a balance that you can both live with. What seems like laziness or a waste of time to you, might be relaxation for them. Permit them to have their own habits and space as long as it doesn’t take away from yours.

Remember, your child has grown and changed while away from home. Friends, professors, and mentors have shaped them. Their choices are not a reflection of only your parenting, but also of many outside influences. Make room in your life and heart for the mature adult they are becoming, with their own opinions, gifts, and personality. 


The Boomerang Kid days allow extra parenting opportunities. I’ve had many heart-to-heart talks with my adult children and have taught them skills and lessons we had little time for during their busy younger years. 

Use this added time to give instructions on cooking, gardening, and home maintenance; medical insurance, retirement plans, and career goals. Discuss issues of faith, values, politics, and current events. You can still be an influence in your adult child’s life, so listen with an open mind while giving advice sparingly and with love.

Finally, use this “bonus” time to build deeper, lasting relationships. Find interests you have in common and pursue them together. Eat meals as a family. Vacation together. Encourage your young adult to attend worship with you. Seek opportunities to laugh and have fun together. 

Before you know it, your nest will be empty and quiet again. You’ll miss the youthful energy, the conversations over coffee, and the joy of watching your child take their first steps…into adulthood. But in the meantime, follow these Adult Children Living at Home: 6 Best Tips for Parents as you get ready to catch that boomerang and live happily together!


CLICK HERE to access the FREE Happy Together Checklists! Spend 15 minutes upfront to save hours of potential conflict and misunderstanding. These questionnaires–one for the parent(s) and one for the boomerang kid(s)– cover expectations for household duties, food, finances, freedom, privacy, and more! 

For more Resources on Parenting Adult Children: Best Books on Parenting Adult Children 

Adult Children living at home checklist
Linda Hanstra

Linda is wife to Tom, Mom to Jared, Seth, Leah and Chloe, MIL to Maddie, and she’s now a grandma too! Linda is inspired by her everyday experiences and perspectives as a parent and empty-nester. Through biking, traveling, parenting her adult children, assisting her elderly parents, and spending time with family and friends, she captures stories to encourage you in your everyday. If your nest is full-for-now, soon-to-be-empty, or all the birds have flown, Linda’s message is one of promise and possibility on your journey! You can find her at LindaHanstra.com.