Take up a hobby – preferably one that requires a lot of equipment. This way you can do the actual hobby (dressmaking, a really complicated fitness routine) in one child’s room, while storing all the essential bits and bobs you need for it in another child’s room. Hey presto, the house is all filled up again.
Rent out their bedroom. This has never been easier, since the advent of Air BnB and its ilk. Just stick an ad on line and within hours you’ll have someone else trashing your towels, eating all the biscuits and generally treating the house like a hotel. But at least they’ll be paying 🙂
Spend, spend, spend. You’ve probably been economising on your own interests, while saving up money for the important things for your children – ridiculous amounts of fancy stationery, strange revision snacks and new shoes once a term. Guess what, all that money can now be frittered away on your own whims. It may take you time to develop some, but when you do there’ll be no stopping you.
Stay out late. Yes, even on a school night. Because, guess what, there aren’t any school nights any more. That’s enough reason to throw a party right there. The irony is that this moment has come just when your cosy sofa and Fleabag box set has never looked more alluring.
Eat what you like. For years, decades even, you’ve been forcing five-a-day down the family’s throats. Now the kids have grown up big and strong, and are eating pizza every night at uni, your work is done. Abandon any concern about vitamins and just eat curry every night. And wine is made of grapes, right? Grapes are fruit? You see where I’m going with this.
Listen to uncool music. From the moment they could curl their lips, the kids have been letting you know how they felt about your music choices. But they’re not here any more! Time to get out all those shameful songs and dance like no one’s watching – because no one is.
Go away. Yes, that’s right, go on holiday. Teenagers don’t have the monopoly on badly-thought-out, expensive travel plans. You can develop (or not develop) some yourself. Take off for Europe with only five different facial washes and a dirty T shirt in your backpack. Go to South America and ‘find yourself’. Or find someone else, preferably someone very unsuitable. Or at least stagger round a local park.
But don’t go too far. Because when your children do get round to ringing you from university, probably in week four or five, there’s bound to have been some crisis which you will have to fire-fight immediately from a remote location, no matter how pressing your newfound hobbies or travel plans have become.
And, most importantly, don’t sell the house just yet. Because ….
They’ll be back. What, you didn’t think they’d get a job when they graduate, did you? Or, if they even get a job, you didn’t think they’d be buying their own place? Not when you’ve got all those rooms going spare …