I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

Parents know what’s good for their kids, which is why we organized play-dates, pushed them to join school clubs and youth groups, and even planned that scourge of parent-hood, the slumber party. Children are healthiest and happiest when they’re social – and so are adults. Frequently, in the busyness of parenting, we forget about ourselves. We shouldn’t. There are many studies that show being social helps us live longer and lowers our risk of Alzheimer’s and heart disease, in addition to improving our mental health. (Here’s a link to an article, but there are many more out there). Don’t forget about yourself, because making a decision to embrace adventure and be active with a group is not only fun – it will help you live longer!

When our children grow up and leave home, not only do we have to adjust to a change in our daily role, but frequently, we find ourselves unmoored from the social groups we belonged to that were defined by our kid’s activities. I suppose if you really love the PTA and the sports booster club, you can continue to be a member even after your kids have moved on, but gaining an empty nest is a healthy time to pursue your own interests and find a group that supports them. There are as many different groups as there are different people; a veritable cornucopia of opportunities to meet people, learn new things, and have adventures. Church groups, softball teams, museum docents, charitable organizations, running groups – all offer opportunities to you; the important thing is to be an active participant.

My husband and I are members of the Oklahoma Malt Whisky Society and our monthly meeting was held last week at a member’s lovely home in Muskogee (though most are held in the Tulsa area). There are so many reasons we love this group. My husband is a lover of

single-malt Scotch and the club gives him an opportunity to sample selections before he commits to buying what can be a pricy bottle. We both love the diverse and interesting group of people. The members are from their 20’s-70’s and represent many different professions and life experiences. I love trivia, and learning about the different distillers and their histories, feeds my love. Plus, got to say it, it's just plain old fun.

Our choice of club may not be the one for everyone, but it suits us to a ‘t,’ and that’s the point of this post. Find a group of some kind that suits you. Stay social. It will help you thrive in your empty nest and it will help you stay healthy – and won’t it be fun when your kids call and you have to tell them you’ll call them back – you have something to do.

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