I stopped parenting in January in 2014, despite still having a child in full time education till July
The second youngest son and last child left home in January 2014, aged 19, having finished his matric in South Africa and moved back to the UK to join the army also. He is based currently in Yorkshire and is being posted to Belfast in October 2015. Returning to the UK as an adult was a difficult process.
It would seem that most peoples children leave home over a period of time. They go to Uni or get a job whilst still living at home until they can save up for their own place and/or they live nearby and still spend a lot of their spare time with their families. For us this isn't the case and we've had little input into their lives as adults which you can read about here.
On my last couple of trips to the UK the logistics of trying to visit all 5 children has been tricky. The youngest and eldest 2 children live in Gloucestershire, I stay in Monmouth. Obviously the eldest child with her disabilities doesn't work and I can see here whenever I want, however any trips out have to be kept to her routine of feeding and changing and her bedtime needs, the youngest lives 15 miles from her and I have to visit around school hours and the eldest is unemployed so as long as I give him his bus fare he can come and meet me with his siblings.
I don't have a base where I can take the children to, which would make life a lot easier and with the other 2 boys living in Leeds and Catterick visits to them are costly and tiring but I do them willingly.
I've reached the conclusion that even if we were still living in Malvern, UK, we'd have the same logisitcal issues and the reality is that the adult children have their own lives, jobs/education, friends and they probably wouldn't want to traipse backwards and forwards on the train, on their weekends off to sit with their mum, doing what exactly.
I do feel cheated out of the last few years of parenthood with the youngest being in boarding school, but then he was in full time boarding when we lived in the UK anyway, he was just 20 minutes down the road and was home for all the school holidays, mind you he still is home for the major school holidays and often spends his exe at weekends with his mates who also board.
I have suffered with empty nest syndrome, however a week on both the good and the bad kicked in and had me in tears again, but a change of country and setting up our new child free home in Dubai has really helped with my adjustment.
But there really is life after kids. I started my journey as a mother aged 21, there is so much out there for me to see, achieve and be part of. But until our expat journey comes to an end I'm adapting to life after kids with so much free time I don't know what to do with myself. I expect when we return to the UK at some point in time, I'll pick up at the very least a job, hopefully a career again, even though i haven't worked for nearly 5 years, my experience volunteering in South Africa and living on two continents will count for something. I'm also assuming that there may be grand children by the time we return to the UK in a couple of years time and who knows what else may happen.
I'm spending large amounts of time on my own as hubbies job is taking him away more often and further afield.
I'm now learning to embrace my 'me time' sit back, relax and enjoy the simple things in life, such as
A nice leisurely breakfast every morning
I can also eat it in bed
Sitting in the garden in the evenings, reading a book and enjoying a glass of wine
Playing with the cat and dog, long walks and trips out to the lakes.
Cups of coffee with friends or just me and my laptop
Evenings on the beach and a swim in the sea
And lots of travel to see the children in the UK, have one of the kids coming to visit this week and another in July, visit new countries, I'm off to Canada on the 17th June and return to familiar ones to see friends, back to South Africa in October.