How To Encourage Your Way Into An Empty Nest

Just what you want to see at 9:30 p.m.

Last night our boys decided they no longer wanted the flannel sheets on their beds. We were downstairs cleaning up after our Easter festivities and, unbeknownst to us, they stripped the bedding off their bunk bed and then called me up to fix their problem. When I got upstairs, their entire bedroom floor was covered in blankets, dirty sheets, stuffed animals, and confusion. I was exhausted and annoyed.

I got out the regular cotton sheets for their beds, tossed them at the boys, and told them to get busy making their beds before I stomped out of the room. Five minutes later I went back to check on them, and they were still clueless. Nothing in the room had changed. I’ve shown my boys repeatedly how to change their sheets, but clearly they have not been paying attention. So, I stood over them barking directions, trying to get them to finish their own task. They labored mightily. They could not get it together. About 9:45 when the beds still weren’t ready for sleep, I decided the quickest path to rest for all of us was for me to take over. So I did. I finished what they had started and we were all asleep by 10:30. I knew that doing their work for them only encourages them to call me to fix their problems, but I was too tired to care.

This morning when the boys busted into my room at 7 a.m. on their day off, still reeling from the bed fiasco last night, I told them to hang around for a minute. I had my second wind and I was ready to be patient. I hauled my butt out of bed.

“You need to make my bed,” I said, still sleepy.

“What?”came the response, times two.

“You heard me. You’re making my bed today.”

“Is this because of last night?” Joe inquired. “Is this my punishment?”

“Oh, sweetie. It’s not a punishment. It’s an opportunity.”

So, I stood there and I let them struggle with the sheets and the comforter. I gave them tips but allowed them to do it all themselves. I coached and encouraged. I told them how to stack the pillows. When it was all said and done, my bed was made and I hadn’t touched it. I felt like Samantha on Bewitched. A little twitch of my nose and the housework was finished. It was a watershed moment. They’re learning to be self-sufficient. I was proud. I was pleased with them but more so with myself for letting go of the reins and giving them control. I felt powerful. So powerful, in fact, that I folded some laundry and had them put it away themselves. Then, I sent them make their own beds because practice makes perfect.

Wonder what I can have them do tomorrow? The more work I have them do in my house now, the less I think they’ll want to live here when they’re 25. If you feather the nest too nicely, they’ll never fly. If I know one thing for sure, it’s that I don’t want to be doing their laundry 15 years from now.





  1. Not only are you encouraging them out the door, making them self sufficient but you’re molding good boyfriend/husband habits. Your future DIL’s will thank you one day!!

  2. I agree:). It’s funny–I had a similar moment last night. I had cleaned the whole house for Easter and by last night there were candy wrappers under the table and crumbs all over the floor–not even 24 hours had elapsed! I was too tired to clean it all up so Finn got wrapper duty and Adyn got sweeping duty. Mama was happy when the floor was clean again and they got to feel a sense of accomplishment. You forget sometimes that these kids do have skills–they are not helpless:).

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