You just dropped off your youngest child at college and moved him into his dorm.  The ride home seems longer.  It’s quiet and tearful.

You walk through the front door of your home where there are no more lacrosse sticks or gym bags to trip over.  There are no dirty socks on the family room floor and no more loud music blaring from upstairs.  The house feels really empty… and suddenly much bigger.

It’s time for our kids to pack up, leave home and begin a new stage of their lives.  It’s natural.  It’s what we want for them

But what about us? We’ve worked hard for so many years to raise healthy, happy kids and to launch them.

It’s time for us to discover what we want.  Downsize?  Travel more? Connect with family and friends?

We’ve talked about downsizing after the kids are off to college but we’re not quite ready to give up the big house.  We’re not quite ready to downsize.  What should we do?

If this is you, and if you are considering downsizing to a smaller home someday, here are

My Top 10 Tips: How To Begin Your Empty-Nester Downsizing Journey (even if you’re not ready to move from the big house)

1. Declutter

You finally have time for the big projects you’ve put off.  It’s cathartic to start organizing and letting go of some of the things that you’ve been holding on to. When you declutter you’ll begin to feel lighter, freer, and happier.  Pairing down before you downsize will help you when you are ready to move to a smaller home.  Bonus:  you will have fewer boxes to move and less stuff to worry about.

2. Redecorate

Try moving furniture around.  It will give you a whole new perspective.  Buy a new sofa or repaint. Refreshing your rooms will lighten your spirits.

3. Repurpose

Maybe you don’t want to spend money

on a major renovation, but now that the kids are gone, you  might consider repurposing their rooms.  Maybe you can finally have your craft room or home office to start your side business in the bustling new “gig economy.”

4. Entertain

Spontaneously invite your friends over for a casual dinner party and fill the kitchen table with people just like it was in the past.  Invite your friends to make their favorite dish and share it around your kitchen table.  Make new memories.

Expand your cooking skills, try new recipes or discover new cuisines.  Now you can use all those ingredients your kids didn’t like!

5. Reinvent

Make time for you.  Now that you don’t have to pick up and drop off kids, you’ll have more time for you.  What do you want to do with your new found time?  Lunch with friends? Read more?  Write a book?  Plan a getaway or vacation.

Get your creative juices flowing.  Rekindle a love of photography, or learn a new skill like playing an instrument, calligraphy, dancing, or sewing — the list is endless!

6. House Hunt

It’s never too early to start looking for a smaller home, one that will suit the new lifestyle that you are creating.  Once you have clarity about what you want and don’t want, it will be much easier to make a decision when the right house comes along.

7. Rethink

Rethink your personal style.  Not everything needs to be so practical any more.  Switch up your hairstyle, try a new beauty routine, or create a capsule wardrobe – shake it up a little bit.

8. Body Tune-Up

You may have been neglecting your health, wellness and fitness. Now might be the perfect opportunity to begin eating right, creating a new fitness routine.  Begin walking with a friend, learn yoga, or start that vegetable garden you’ve been talking about.

Spend time in nature, catch up on your sleep.  Get your nails done more often.  Take long baths without kids banging on the bathroom door!

9. Rediscover

Rediscover relationships.  Spend quality time with family, friends, spouses and significant others.  Now that you have more time take time to be with people that matter most to you.

Develop new relationships or rekindle old ones. Planning that girls weekend you’ve been talking about.

10. Volunteer

What better way to use your years of expertise, knowledge, and skills than to find an organization that is meaningful to you. Volunteering allows you to become more connected, meet new people and expand your network.  It has a positive impact on you and your community.

It’s time. It’s time for you to design a life that you love.  Your kids will be just fine… and so will you!