Things I Wish I Knew about an Emptier Nest

Things I Wish I Knew about an Emptier Nest

If I do say so myself – our speaker series is ON FIRE!! Last week our featured speaker was Ann Douglas, who spoke on “Things I wish I knew about an Emptier Nest!”

Wow – Ann was a wealth of information and we loved having her speak to our community of “40 – somethings” about all things empty nesting!

If you are not familiar with Ann – she is a Canadian parenting expert – author of many fantastic books on parenting – most notably “Happy Parents, Happy Kids” and “Parenting Through the Storm.” Her calm measured approach to parenting is both reassuring and inspiring and we were spoiled with her knowledge last week.

Things I wish I knew about an emptier nest - Ann Douglas

Typically, we try and do a little synopsis of our evening on the blog – so those of you who missed it can get a quick re-cap here on Mojo and Moxie. BUT – as you know, Ann is an amazing writer – and her talk was based on two blog posts from her own blog. So rather than do a repeat performance (that would no doubt be poorly written in comparison!!) I want to share with you three things that Danni and I took away from this talk personally. And of course, links are available to Ann’s posts below… 🙂

We love hearing all your comments on Facebook on what your “take-aways” were – so here are our thoughts on Things I wish I knew about an Emptier Nest.

Three Things we Learned from Ann

It’s OK to feel GOOD about your EMPTY NEST – and even love it just a little (!!)

Things I wish I knew about an emptier nest - celebrating the empty nest

I chuckled when Ann spoke about feeling guilty about enjoying your empty nest. Now, while this doesn’t apply to me completely (I still have two very much at home, and the one that’s left the nest comes back every summer…) this totally resonated with me.

While I certainly felt the absence of our first child’s departure for university in another city – and I had moments of sadness – I really felt so good about his decision. I knew he was ready for this next step and I took it in stride.

Now at the end of his third year, I am consistently thrilled with his gradual pulling away and increasing independence. Sometimes I feel guilty about this – like it means I don’t love him as much as my husband (who struggles with it more than I do). But listening to Ann helped ease my worry.

I feel like I just recognize that he is progressing so smoothly through the first stages of adulthood and to be honest, I’m quite proud and relieved at how well he is handling life.

Ann’s comments on feeling positive and good about enjoying your empty nest and about how our job as parents is to prepare our kids for their eventual independence, struck a chord with me. I know our son has a deep rooted love for family. I know that if he is ever in trouble, needs advice, or even cooking tips we are still first on the list without a doubt. He loves us, but needs us differently now.

I take great satisfaction in watching him mature, that his own values are rooted in things we have instilled in him, and that each year he becomes more capable to handle things on his own.

This has helped me let go and let him fly – and I don’t feel one bit of guilt enjoying life without him with us at every moment.

As Ann so eloquently told us – family is forever and our love is unconditional as parents. My greatest pleasure and relief is recognizing that our son knows this and for him, his foray into adulthood is right on track.

Read Getting your Teen Ready for University – HERE

Thank you ANN – this led to great conversation with my husband about letting go and feeling good about it.

It’s OK to have your Young Adult Pick an Alternative Path (especially now)

Fork in the road - things I wish I knew about an emptier nest

We are inundated with the “path” the way it is “supposed” to be for our young adults. High school, then post secondary, then job, and family, right?

Well – if this pandemic has shown us anything, it is that sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. And sometimes we need to make choices that are difficult but protect our sanity!

Ann spoke about how our current situation is changing family dynamics – teens and young adults perhaps being either forced to return home, or to forego / delay their first year of post secondary or missing out on huge milestones altogether. No doubt, this is a difficult time, but Ann suggests we have some grace – with both our kids and ourselves.

I know Danni expressed to me that it was agony for her kids to participate in online learning this year. The struggle caused a lot of angst in their household and in the end, they decided as a family, that life would run a lot smoother if the kids decided to delay their studies until things resumed in person.

Hard decision – yes. BUT – Ann says we need to know that supporting our kids through crisis and accepting that every young adult and every situation is different – not better or worse – but different, will help us through this uncomfortable time.

The best thing we can do is support our young adult’s decisions, encourage them even when we struggle with our own doubts and misplaced sense of guilt. I know I totally over-think things as a parent. I fill my mind with the “what if’s” and other worries. Our kids will make their way and we just need to love them through it.

Check out our post on Taking a Gap Year HERE

It’s OK to not be perfect – in fact you should be “Gloriously Imperfect”

Things I wish I knew about an emptier nest - perfectly imperfect

How many times have I tried to have a conversation with one of my teens only, to have it go tremendously wrong in the first 30 seconds.

Well – I don’t have to tell you it’s happened a LOT – especially these days! And man do I feel down in the dumps about it.

While I know I am not responsible for the entire conversation, I am responsible for my half… and wow did we really just go there???

Yup – a question I ask myself virtually every day while parenting three kids ages16 – 21.

I think at times we lose track of the fact that we just can’t be perfect parents, and we really berate ourselves over our missteps, because we want to be better for our kids. We want to be as perfect as we can be. And while I recognize perfect is not possible, sometimes we need someone to tell us to just let that shit go!

Ann spoke to us about giving ourselves permission to be a gloriously imperfect parent – which also means we need to recognize and accept that our kids are going to be gloriously imperfect too!

Ann gave us three things that should guide us in our parenting:

  • We need to provide unconditional love and approval
  • We need to be warm, sensitive and responsive
  • We need to support their growing independence and emerging abilities

I learned that I need to stop being so hard on myself AND my child. I need to work within the guidelines above – knowing that sometimes my attempt at these things may be thwarted by either imperfect words or actions and that can still be ok.

Ann tells us to focus on PROGRESS and not PERFECTION!

I’m currently a work in progress… 🙂

So – the one thing I can say about parenting older children, is that it is (for the most part) a joy to watch them grow up, and become amazing adults.

And, the other thing I can say is, that there is always something to learn!

Thank you Ann for providing us an evening of food for thought.

FIND ANN’s Blog Posts on Parenting an Empty Nest here:



As always – we invite you to comment below – or join our Facebook Group for lively conversation and a great community of like-minded 40-something moms – where you can also view our chat with Ann for yourself!

mojo and moxie



Three Things your Teens Wish you Knew

Three Things your Teens Wish you Knew

Today we tackle three things your teens wish you knew – advice and knowledge from Aly Pain – family coach and educator and our latest speaker in our Mojo and Moxie monthly series.

I’m going to start todays blog by telling you all how happy Danni and I are that we decided to run our Speaker Series – What I wish I knew!

Our speakers have been as varied as they are interesting.

So far, we’ve featured Amy Johnston – who spoke with us about Fitness over Forty and then we tackled #thevaginadialogues with menopause advocate, Shirley Weir. Two completely different topics equally relevant to our stage of life.

Last week, as I already mentioned, we featured Aly Pain whose TikTok “Three Things your Teens Wish you Knew” went viral and inspired the theme for our conversation. As promised, here is a quick re-cap of our conversations with Aly. We really hope you didn’t miss it, but if you did – here is a recap on the Three Things your Teens wish you Knew!

1. They Can’t Always Describe what they are Feeling

Three things your teens wish you know

The first thing our teens wish we knew, is that they can’t always describe what they are feeling – and they need us (the adults) to be understanding – or at the very least, aware of that.

Teens have not yet worked their emotional vocabulary muscles – and they need us to be patient, and to help them learn to express their feelings as they mature.

Aly suggests we support our teens by asking open ended questions, and celebrating when they ARE able to tell us how they feel. Questions like, “What’s wrong?” are difficult for teens to answer, because sometimes they just don’t know how to articulate how they are feeling.

She recommended a wonderful resource – The Feelings Wheel – as something we can print out and place on our fridge to help our teens articulate what they are feeling.

Something like “Tell me about your day at school” will get you more response and maybe deeper conversation.

In addition, teens struggle with feeling judged by their parents. Ally suggests that we avoid judgement or comparison with others, and that we pay particular attention to tone. If you are worried with how things are going in a conversation, Ally suggests using, “tell me what you heard me say” as a great way to understand where communication with your teen is going awry.

2. Don’t Pretend you were the perfect teen

three things your teens wish you knew

I have to admit – I laughed when Aly spoke about parents pretending they were perfect teens.

Don’t we ALL want to reflect back on our teen years and erase some of the mistakes we made – thinking hopefully that we can guide our teens to make better choices?

I was not a particularly mischievous teen, but I certainly can still recall some of the feelings and misconceptions I had growing up, as it related to my parents and their understanding of me. I try so hard to channel some of this into how I react to my own teens. Of course, the truth is, as adults we have things like life experience that help us understand situations differently – and teens just are not there!

The prefrontal cortex of the brain is the area of the brain that allows us to think about the future, to understand consequences, and generally make better decisions. Not surprisingly, the prefrontal cortex of teens still has a lot of work to do to grow into adulthood – so we need to give them some slack.

So – because we can’t change brain development in teens, we need to be honest with the mistakes WE made. By doing this, we show ourselves as vulnerable and human.

Teens are more likely to share their ups and downs with you, if they feel you have also made mistakes. We did not get through our teen years making all the right decisions and dealing with every situation perfectly. Ally suggests that although we want to encourage our children perhaps to make better choices than we did – or shield them from the hurt and mistakes we made, this is not the best way to forge relationships with our teens.

No one is super excited to share all the missteps made in adolescence, but I don’t know about you – if it means having a closer, more trusting and honest relationship with my teens, I might have to just go down that road and suck it up…

Support your daughters in standing up for themselves

three things your teens wish you knew

The last of the three things your teens wish you knew, applies perhaps more to our daughters, than our sons .

Aly suggests that we need to encourage our daughters to find their voice as teens and to learn to question authority – in a respectful manner. It is most important that our girls are comfortable in their own homes to speak their mind and ask for what they need in an assertive but controlled manner and to celebrate her for doing so.

Dads – and other male figures in the home – can help with this by validating their daughters in their efforts. Ally suggests that our teen girls need to learn that, in life, their opinions may not always be endorsed, but they will be heard. The important part of the learning, is that they share their opinions and feel comfortable doing so. In other words, they won’t always be right, but they will be heard.

By creating an environment where our girls feel empowered to do this, not only do they seek out more positive relationships with other boys / men in their future – they are equipped to face uncomfortable situations with more confidence.

Three things your teens wish you knew

I know as parents, we are always trying to adapt and learn and grow in order to do our best for our teens. There are so many parenting books out there telling us to “to this” or “try that” – and of course it is great to suck up all the info we can get. I have to tell you though – at my stage in life, with one more teen left at home (and not feeling like I’m getting any better at parenting) it sure is great to have a resource like Aly to refer to.

I LOVE checking out her insta or TikTok because when I’m feeling weary, or just need a “parenting pick-me up” she offers some quick insight and advice – perhaps a laugh – and more likely a little something for me to think about.

If you want to check out Aly – she can be found HERE – all links to her social media accounts are available there for you to follow.

Here’s to learning to be the best parents we can – and to knowing we are doing the very best we can… 🙂

three things your teen wish you knew

We got this!



Searching for Joy in the Christmas of 2020

Searching for Joy in the Christmas of 2020

I’m standing in the aisle at our local Calendar Club staring at the abyss of adult games, desperately searching for joy in the Christmas of 2020.

You see, every year at this time, I love to find a new game for our family. Life quiets down, kids are home from university and extra curricular activities take a well deserved break. Christmas is the perfect time to get in that “family time” we always talk about, and play a game, or do a puzzle.

This year though, the thought of suggesting we play another game or “hey kids, let’s do a puzzle,” fills me with such dread, I turn on my heel and walk straight out of the store.

“Ok lady, I say to myself, “you’ve got to get your shit together and find some joy in the Christmas of 2020.”

Anyone else with me?

Don’t get me wrong – I am grateful for a lot of things right now – I’m just struggling a little with joy.

I am grateful we have employment, a home, our health (fingers crossed) and ways to connect via technology with people we love – although – if someone suggests another Zoom, I might have to punch them in the face. 🙂

I’m not totally devoid of happiness – nor do I feel depressed, but I do feel the peaks and valleys of my emotions like never before. I also feel a certain anger that bubbles just below the surface. At times, I tear out of the house looking for a break, knowing if I hear the words “social distancing” once more, I might scream.

But I digress…

In our house, we light the advent wreath – four candles signifying HOPE, PEACE, LOVE and JOY – each one lit in the four weeks approaching Christmas. And while in previous years, these candles were lit more with a nod to tradition – this year HOPE, PEACE, LOVE and JOY seem to take on a new meaning.

searching for joy in the Christmas of 2020

We’ve all had to come up with things that give us HOPE, that bring us PEACE, that show LOVE and that have helped us feel JOY at our family table.

With it being just a few days from Christmas, I thought I would share with you some of the things we’ve come up with in our family, while we are searching for Joy in the Christmas of 2020.

I feel JOY when I see all the extra Christmas lights people have put on their houses this year.

I feel HOPE when I see that doctors are getting vaccinated.

I feel JOY when I see a family out for a walk together.

I feel PEACE when I know we are all together under one roof.

I feel JOY that I can find a parking spot at the mall one week before Christmas!

I feel HOPE when I see the city supporting local business.

I feel LOVE when I see our family laughing together.

I feel JOY when I see people skating outside in a local park and Christmas carols being played.

I feel HOPE when I see a company pivot to adjust to restrictions and be successful.

While this list is certainly not exhaustive it sure beats going down the rabbit hole of despair, doesn’t it? I know that choosing joy in a pandemic is a little like choosing love in the middle of a fight with your partner. The question always is – do you want to be RIGHT, or do you want to be HAPPY?

This Christmas there are many reasons to NOT be joyful. This pretty much sucks, and let me tell you – I can come up with plenty of reasons to support that statement too. We really have to consciously be searching for joy in the Christmas of 2020. We have to wake up every morning, and figure out how we are going to either find joy, or bring joy each day.

In what is most likely our last blog post for 2020, all we are wishing for you this holiday season is a little JOY, unconditional LOVE, PEACE, and an abundance of HOPE. Because remember… after the last pandemic came the ROARING ’20’s and in my mind the next decade has us strewn in sequins and dancing like fools.

searching for joy in the Christmas of 2020

Dance with us – won’t you? See you in 2021



If you are looking for JOYFUL Christmas morning inspiration check out our Gingerbread Waffles or Christmas Morning Eats – guaranteed JOY.

Five things I wish I knew before I went through Menopause

Five things I wish I knew before I went through Menopause

We promised you that to celebrate World Menopause Month, we would be bringing you all things menopause in October – so today, I’m going to share five things I wish I knew before I went through menopause.

Shockingly, I started into perimenopause shortly after I turned 40 and now, at 49 I have been in full menopause for a couple of years. It took me by surprise and I was probably the first of all of my friends to head into the “change.” I consider myself “experienced” because I know exactly what I wish I knew before I went through menopause – so here you go!!

1. It Sneaks Up on You

things I wish someone had told be before I went through menopause

The first thing I wish I knew before I went through menopause is that it sneaks up on you. The first time you miss a period you might not even notice. Or you might still be getting your period, but one night you might wake up soaking wet and having to change your pjs.

A month later it happens again, but slightly different – so you don’t really connect the dots. Your skin gets a little rough but you chalk it up to the weather. Coincidentally you feel a little extra cranky with your kids and don’t think anything of it. This is how it happens.

I wish someone had told me that I would still feel young and vibrant when things would start to change. I wish they told me that even though I was quickly running out of good eggs, I would still feel like (if I wanted to) I could have another baby. I would not connect the dots that various things happening in my body meant menopause. I would have loved it if someone said – this is what perimenopause looks like – and it happens to young women like you.

2. You might feel differently about S E X 🙂

things I wish I knew before I went through menopause

I wish someone had told me – and even given my husband a heads up – that things in the bedroom could change. I wish someone had told me that I might feel a little BLAH about that part of my life for a while. I would have appreciated the tap on the shoulder that -” hey, you are NOT going to want to do THAT even though your feelings for your partner are still there.”

AND I wish I was given the right words to explain this overwhelming feeling to my husband with out him feeling like I just wasn’t interested any more.

Because those conversations are hard. Those conversations are just as hard as feeling like you don’t know your own body and what it is doing anymore.

3. You might mourn your fertility

what I wish I knew before I went through menopause

Ok – this is a weird one. I knew I didn’t want anymore children after our daughter (#3) was born. I had no thoughts of ever giving birth again. I had what I thought was the “perfect” number of kids. I was happy. But still – I was surprised by the crazy, sad feeling I had knowing that it was impossible to have any more children in my life. And even more crazy, was the thought that I was too old – and that nature had decided that for me. It made me think compassionately of women who have to confront this reality unexpectedly, when they are young women.

It’s a funny dichotomy. We spend so much of our life trying to prevent pregnancy, and suddenly we find ourselves in a place where it is suddenly impossible and we are sad about it.

I really did not expect to have any thoughts around my ability to bear more children. This is just one of the weird things I wish I knew before I went through menopause.

4. Family Inoculation

what I wish I knew before I went through menopause

Inoculation: The act or an instance of inoculating, especially the introduction of an antigenic substance or vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a specific disease.

HA HA – yes, it is time to inoculate the family. Here is another thing I wish I knew before I went through menopause. I really wish someone had told me to sit down and talk to my family about what I would be going through in the coming years. I know it sounds weird – but think of it. When our kids go through puberty, we KNOW. And we are educated and prepared for the things that come with it. We are prepared for the changes in their skin, their body odour, their appearance. Doesn’t it make sense that we would take the time to be educated about menopause?

YES! I wish I had sat my family down and said – “sometimes I will be crazy. Sometimes I will strip down to a tank top and be flushed and sweaty. Sometimes I will lose my shit over something you think is insignificant. And sometimes I will forget why I entered a room. Get used to it and support me!”

Maybe if I had prepared them – inoculated them – they would be immune to my crazy?

5. You DON’T have every “googled middle age disease”

things I wish I knew before I went through menopause

Of course, as we age we all worry about our health. It is natural and normal to make sure you are on top of how you are feeling and changes in both your mental and physical health. But let me tell you – going through menopause, I must have googled every possible disease / disorder related to all the various symptoms I experienced, because I was convinced I was dying or experiencing symptoms of a life altering illness.

Well – it WAS life altering and is WAS perimenopause. And I’m not suggesting you ignore, or poo – poo any symptoms but much of what is happening is good ol’ menopause.

Forget mid-conversation what you were talking about and struggle to get back on track? Yup – I was convinced I had early onset Alzheimers. And I was seriously worried about it. I even forgot words (and still occasionally do) for simple items or names I use on the daily.

As it turns out – all the various (and copious symptoms) I was googling were all related to menopause. And I really wish I had spent all that google time online shopping 🙂

We get it – perimenopause / menopause can be scary and totally take you off your game. But – if you are just heading into this time in your life – keep these five things I wish I knew before I went through menopause to heart.

Check out one of our fav resources, Hello Perry, for all things menopause HERE

AND – we have so many other blog posts on menopause and perimenopause. Check out some of our favs.

MOKITA – how to navigate menopause


Is There Such a Thing as Manopause