Every article I read on the subject of Empty Nesting seems to imply that I'll suddenly have a lot of extra time on my hands, now that young Ky is out of the house during the school year. Some of their suggestions are downright silly: "Take your first uninterrupted bath in decades!!" -- as if my teenager had been banging on the bathroom door, demanding my undivided attention at 10pm? More likely teens in high school treasure the time they have to themselves, and assuming there are enough bathrooms to go around in your house, they certainly aren't sitting around wishing that you were hanging out in their room instead of taking a bath.
I really don't have all that much "extra time" now that Ky's in college. What I have is the same, if not more, responsibilities for chores and activities and meetings and work, but without the guilt that while I'm doing what needs to be done, I *should be* also hanging out having heart to hears with my teenager. So I've left some part of the parenting guilt behind, but to be quite honest, the guilt didn't take up much time. Just head space.
However I have to admit I've been looking forward to guilt free evenings to indulge in one of my favorite things to do - learn about something academic that falls outside my main profession. Never more than since I've been in charge of creating college classes from scratch have I appreciated what a gift it is to sit back and let someone TELL ME about an interesting subject. Someone who has weeded through all the trash, the outdated information, the misinformation, the boring information, and summarized a new subject for me before handing it to me in 45 minute increments in an engaging and organized way. Dude, that is like Christmas morning to me. I can't say enough good things about being taught something by someone else - preferably a good teacher.
Not being able to afford the time or money to go back to school (or, frankly, having the desire to get another degree in my lifetime) I was super psyched to read about free online courses offered by various Universities around the world. I subscribed to a bunch of different ones and ended up settling on a few offered by one of the big organizations (it's called Coursera, but I'm sure there are tons of others I haven't found yet.)
I'm currently "taking" 3 classes. I download the video from the class, extract the audio part, upload it to my phone and listen to lectures while I'm running. That's how much of a dork I am - I love getting lectured to while I run.
I find myself learning a lot though and wishing I'd realized what a gift a good class really is, back when I was in college and grad school. I'm one of those students the statistics are talking about who sign up for a course, but never "finish" it.... I don't care so much about participating in forums or taking quizzes. Despite all the assurances of how much "extra free time" I have now that my nest has been emptied, I still don't seem to have time for 2 jobs plus multiple classes. Go figure...