General Question

Here2_4's avatar

What to do now, in an empty house?

Asked by Here2_4 (7109points) September 4th, 2014

My three kids are gone. All have grown and pursued their lives. My husband travels a lot and it was a strain. Now he is my ex-husband. I have a lot of life left in me, but I feel very lonely with an empty house now. I’m not really a craft type of person. I don’t belong to a Church. I don’t go to bars. I can’t afford to travel. I don’t know what I can do with my days to feel less discarded.
Any suggestions?

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29 Answers

syz's avatar

Volunteer! Find something that interests you, because then you’ve found a group of people that share your interest. Get a part-time job doing something that you enjoy. Join a book club, a bicycling club, a hiking club, a photography club. Take an adult education class in something that’s always interested you (writing, photography, learn a new language). Try a craft – learn to blow glass, make stained glass, make jewelry, throw a pot. Take a cooking class. Join a adult dating site.

zenvelo's avatar

Find some volunteer work to get out of the house and get out of your own head. Join or start some groups for socializing with similar people. Start getting outside and hiking or walking to get your endorphin levels up and connect with nature.

And seriously consider moving to a smaller place to live. You don’t need a house where you used to have a husband and three kids. Move into something manageable.

stanleybmanly's avatar

big empty house, lots of spare time. You’re the envy of most of us. Don’t worry. You’re obviously not accustomed to sitting around doing nothing. You’ll soon figure it out, and won’t have time to waste on us

Here2_4's avatar

It isn’t really a big house. My husband and I divorced two years ago, and one of my sons was already gone. I downsized then, for the sake of expenses, and at the time, this house was actually too small for three adults. My son didn’t actually have a room, he made over the basement for himself. He knew he wasn’t going to be living there long anyway. I need what space I have for when any of them come to visit.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Are you mobile? Are you able to walk a mile or two at a slow pace and not be winded?

If yes to both, I’d like to suggest Geocaching. It is a treasure hunt activity that can be as easy or as difficult as you wish. Go to that page and select “Play”. You will be able to enter and address and area of interest: closer than than 1 mile, closer than 5 miles, etc.and it will list all the caches in the area.

Why would you get involved in such a strange activity? The answer is the same as why you come here – the people.
The people that geocache automatically come with certain characteristics that often prove desirable in a friend – or a long term partner.
– They are computer literate.
– They are reasonably fit.
– They have some time on their hands. (Retired, few family obligations, etc.)
– They prefer to occasionally spend some free time outdoors rather than on the couch.
– They are not afraid of trying something a little different
– They have enough spare cash to buy a GPS.
– They know how to write in complete sentences.
– Their average age is mid 40’s but the age range is wide. M to F ratio is about equal.
– They are willing to do the activity singly or in a group.

It is free to sign up and to participate.
You will learn about places in your area that you did not know existed.
There are also activities and get-togethers where people meet at a local restaurant for breakfast and then go out together to hunt down a few caches.

What’s not to like?

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Think about all the things you’ve ever wanted to do but didn’t have time or opportunity to pursue. You say that you’re not a crafts person, but there are other types of hobbies and interests.

Have you ever thought about joining a nearby health club or YMCA/YWCA and getting in the best physical shape of your life? Would you like to learn a new language, and is there a local community college where you could take classes (if you’re a senior citizen, the tuition might be free)? Maybe you’d enjoy a few online seminars to make you more computer and technology savvy? If you can commit walking a dog 4X per day and caring for an animal yourself, dogs are wonderful companions and the antidote to loneliness.

gailcalled's avatar

You might want to start by examining why you feel “discarded.” Having your kids grow up and away while pursuing productive and content lives was your goal, wasn’t it? it is certainly is what all parents want for their kids.

There are many volunteer positions, for example, in the local school systems; lower, middle or high school if you want to use your hard-earned parenting skills. Often being a surrogate parent, in a mentoring program, is very satisfying. Also you might want to check into tutoring possibilities.

If you like dogs and cats, all local animal shelters are begging for volunteers.

newyorkgirl12's avatar

All great advice, right on point! Now is the time for YOU! There are probably a lot of woman in your area feeling the same way. I know it takes a lot of courage but if you can raise a family this will be a piece of cake! The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step! Start looking through all of your resources.. The local paper, Internet, schools, libraries, coffee house bulletin boards. Find things to do and start talking to people and try making new friends !! Good luck on your new life journey!!

janbb's avatar

I was in a similar position to you almost three years ago. Kids each moved 3,000 miles away – in opposite directions! – and my husband moved out on me two months later. The house seemed so empty that first (and second) winters. I had some very close friends but what really helped me most was If you don’t know it, it is a Web site that posts clubs and activity groups in your area. Because I am a walker, I first joined a walking group and made several new single friends there – good friends with whom I now share traveling, support and social events with. I’ve done a number of things my Ex wasn’t interested and really built a whole new life. I’ve also joined a Unitarian congregation that gives me a sense of community (I am a liberal atheist) and take painting lessons in addition to my part time job. I’ve gotten closer with some cousins whom I always liked but didn’t have the time for. It’s not the life I had planned and I do miss my family but it’s a wonderful life all in all. Feel free to pm me if you want to talk.

LostInParadise's avatar connects people with a wide range of different interests. They typically meet once a month. If you live near a city, the chances are that there are meetups nearby.

Do you live near any universities? You can check to see if they have any talks open to the public. Libraries in large cities frequently also have talks open to the public. Barnes and Noble schedules talks by people on book tours. Going to one of these talks gets you out of the house and gives you a chance to meet people. You may also learn something of interest.

Here2_4's avatar

These are very good suggestions. I have never heard of It sounds like a good thing to try. If I have seen ads anywhere, I would have just thought it was a dating site. I am not interested in that sort of thing, so I never would have found it on my own. Thank you for suggesting it.
The geocaching is new to me also. It sounds like fun. I think I will look into it.
Thanks all! It looks like I have some busy time coming up.

Coloma's avatar

@Here2_4 Welcome, you will find lots of amusement and entertainment here at Fluther too.
Also, maybe adopt a cat or dog for companionship if you do not already have a pet. Dogs get you out too, you can join a doggy play group, meet new people, take your puppy to classes, pets are such great little friends. :-)

tinyfaery's avatar

Pets. Lots of pets. Lucky you.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Here2_4 You might even find a Geocaching group at!
First you need to sign up. You will be amazed at how many have been hidden for years in your neighborhood.
Once you find a couple of easy ones you can start finding them everywhere you go. I try to find at least one whenever I travel.


kritiper's avatar

Get a BIG screen TV and a rockin’ surround sound audio system.

Pandora's avatar

I tell you what I did after the kids were gone. I started to work on myself. I started eating better and working out.
Join a gym. You may meet other people and get a workout buddy.
Get a daring hair cut.
Get a pedicure and manicure or a day at the spa. Pamper the crap out of yourself.
Read or study things you never had time for.
Work on house projects you kept always putting off.
If you like gardening. Create your own little oasis.
As already suggested you can volunteer but I remember thinking about doing that and then I remembered I did a ton of volunteering while my kids were growing up and working. So this was me time.
As suggested, getting a pet is also a nice thing to do but don’t go crazy or you won’t have any me time. You end up being a caretaker again. There is plenty of time for all of that later. Think of this time as a well deserved vacation.
If you have another single friend, save and plan a vacation together. With all the time on your hands you will be surprised how many inexpensive trips you can take if you plan it out right.
You can rent out a home with some family members and all split the costs. Just make sure it is somewhere you can drive to and split the gas cost.

Here2_4's avatar

What a fantastic list of ideas! I agree with you about the pets. I’d rather no add something needy to my life right now. Maybe something simple, like a hermit crab. I will look into the shared vacation idea. I don’t know whether anyone I know would care to.

johnpowell's avatar

I am mostly alone and stained glass is a good cheap hobby. I had a lot of time and little money and it helped me through. You can get going for 100 bucks.

JLeslie's avatar

Get a part time job. Join a club. Take a class. Explore a new interest. Any or all of those.

One thing to remember is joining clubs and even taking a class is like dating, not every date is a gay fit and you don’t know until you get there. If your first try at branching out doesn’t work out well, still try another. When we moved to Memphis we joined the local Newcomers club, which had a plethora of subgroups from wine tasting party group, dinner out once a month group, book club group, explore the city group (picked a different tourist attraction each month) sunshine group (volunteered to help members in need after surgeries and medical treatments) card playing group, and on and on. We also went to a few football games at a bar with my college alumni group in town. Lastly, we joined a car club. Of those three, the car club wound up being the biggest social hit for us, and I would not have predicted it. I wound up becoming the social chairperson for a few years and we made wonderful friends from with some members in the group.

Think about things that used to make you very happy in childhood. Ballet was one for me. For a while there I went back to it in adulthood. I miss it now and just looked into taking a class again. For now Zumba has been close enough. My husband was just asking me to look up classes for automechanics for him. A girlfriend of mine took a class in cake decorating. So many things to choose from.

Touch base with girlfriends from the past. Many probably are in your same situation.

I personally would travel a little, but you might not have an afinity for travel. You said you can’t afford it, but if you do decide to work a little then you might be able to travel some. One thing leads to another.

The biggest thing is just do anything and get out and it will likely lead to other things you didn’t expect.

majorrich's avatar

You mentioned it in your OP, why not find a church? There is always something going on and things to do. I joined the choir, now I look forward to at least two days that I will be with new friends and old.

Here2_4's avatar

I thought about finding a Church to attend, but it wouldn’t feel right. I am not a believer. It would be purely social.

janbb's avatar

@Here2_4 If there is a Unitarian Universalist congregation in your area, it might be the place for you. As I mentioned above, I am an atheist and cultural Jew and I find nothing objectionable in their message; it is totally non-dogmatic, inclusive, friendly and progressive. I started going last January and am active on two committees already.

Here2_4's avatar

I have never heard of this. I will check around.
Before I came back today, I searched geocaching. Apparently it is something which is done in my area. I’m a bit confused, but it is intriguing. I believe I will give it a try. Perhaps this weekend, when I am off work.

janbb's avatar

@Here2_4 You’re gonna make it after all! You sound like you have the right attitude.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Here2_4 Geocaching is almost everywhere. Earlier this week someone from here was asking about it so I directed her to one hidden right in town in a tree near where she shops. She found it. I think she is hooked! Bwah ha hah!

I’m willing to bet there are at least 6 within 3 miles of your house and I don’t have a clue where you live. Once you find one you sign the log book hidden in the box and log the find online. Other people in your area will see that you found it and you will see who found it before you. You get to see how they write and can snoop a bit and check out their profiles (if they make them available).
It will not take long to start communicating with people, especially if you say you are new, have no idea what’s going on, and would like a little help getting started.
You can vet anyone who answers. You know how they spent the last X years having fun doing this. You can see how man they have found. You can see where they traveled. Who they traveled with. You can look at the level of terrain difficulty they attempt (1 is easy 5 is difficult) to see if you both are on the same physical fitness wavelength – all without admitting you are doing it! ;-).
When you meet you will immediately have something in common. It is easy!

Adagio's avatar

@LuckyGuy I’ve just spent the last 30 minutes watching videos about geocaching, I had never heard of it before, sounds like wonderful fun!

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

It does doesn’t it @Adagio. I’ve checked it out too. Hopefully @Here2_4 will give it a go too. Apparenlty N.S.W. National Parks have banned geocaching in parks to protect the environment. That’s a bit sad. Thank you @LuckyGuy for such a good idea.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit There are plenty of rules to make caching safe and unobtrusive.
From the very beginning US Federal Parks are off limits to physical caches. You may have “Mystery caches” where you are required to answer a question that only someone at the spot would know. “How many flags to you see?” “What year was the plaque made?”
Before the caches are posted on the website you must prove to the moderators you have permission from the property owner.
There are volunteers who check and verify that the new caches are where they are supposed to be, they don’t contain anything dangerous, NSFW, or commercial, and are not buried. .
When this started most of us used air-tight, .50 cal ammo cans. We could put them out in the woods and the contents would stay dry even when buried in snow or were washed by torrential rains. Also animals could not open them. We put really nice prizes in them plus a log book, disposable camera. Occasionally we’d put some Where’sGeorge dollars inside with the instructions to take only 1. The boxes sealed so well they are still out there.

Now there are a variety of sizes. Micro caches are about the size of a film can. They are very popular now. The only thing inside is a scroll that acts as a log book. They are easy to hide in public places and are quick to find.
Medium sized caches are often hidden in surplus Decon containers.
You will see that the older caches. (generally before 2003) are all large and are in rougher terrain, out and away from the public. Their terrain and difficulty ratings would generally be 2 and 2 or above.

Earlier I mentioned you could get an idea of the person who participates in this activity . I contend you can also judge a community by the number of caches it has and how long they last. If it is a high crime area caches are stolen or it is dangerous to go out at night, or people might not agree to let strangers walk on their property, or people are not computer literate.
A region that has caches hidden on private woods or in someone’s backyard tells you they are open and friendly and figure you are as well. Western NY has many that are old and challenging.
I recently found one in Auburn. The instructions said “After you find the cache. Go on inside and say “Hi”. They are expecting you and will give you a drink.”
Another one, hidden in my area (inside a local diner) says “Go in and say ‘Hi’ to Rita, the owner, she will give you a hug.”
I figure a region that has many old caches means it is safe and friendly and has low vandalism. You can consider that a data point when determining the neighborhood quality of life.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Too late to add. Law enforcement agencies are also informed so, if accidentally found and reported by a “muggle”, they don’t destroy the cache thinking it is a dangerous device. Owner contact info is also inside the box.

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