Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Are you an empty nester or do you know someone who is?

This can be a sad or happy situation.

It’s a great conversation topic that can help you deepen connections.

Listen in on today’s episode and find out how to talk about it.

Raising kids

Michelle asks Lindsay if her parents are empty nesters.

Lindsay says yes and shares that she moved out of her parents’ house more than 18 years ago.

Michelle shares that she is not an empty nester and her days can be very busy.

It will take years before she becomes one.

  • empty nester: a parent whose children have grown up and are officially out of the house and living their own lives

This happens usually when children are moving to attend college.

It comes from the idea of a baby bird learning to fly and flying away from its nest and leaving the mother bird.

The transition of a parent from having a life surrounded by their kids and all of a sudden being alone can be difficult.

Having that distance between your children can be a sad process to go through but very normal.

You can check out an episode from All Ears English related to today’s episode.

AEE 1434: Does Absence Make the Heart Grow Fonder? Find Out Today!

Empty nester

Today we are going to talk about expressions dealing with kids being away from home

The expression ‘empty nester’ is an idiom you can add to your vocabulary.

There are many other terms as well that are similar to ‘empty nester.’

Today we’ll teach a few you can use when talking about children growing up and moving away from their homes.

# 1: Flown the coop

This expression is another reference to birds, in this case, chickens.

It is similar and means a child has left their home.

It can also be used in other situations for escaping.

Often, it’s used to talk about someone escaping jail.


Now that my kids have flown the coop, it’s a bit tough.

# 2: Retiree

This is a person who doesn’t work anymore after years of working.


I’m joining a group of fellow retirees for brunch tomorrow.

I’m a retiree, but I was an accountant.

Leaving home in American culture

In American culture, it is very common for parents to be empty nesters when their children grow up.

Children often leave home when they hit 18 years old and they either go away for college or move to a new city and pursue a career.

Some parents may be happy for their kids to go away so they can finally be left alone together.

They may enjoy the peace and quiet and even the savings they get because raising their children can be expensive.

Other parents feel sad when they become empty nesters.

Their once noisy and activity-filled house is now quiet.

This is especially the case for a parent whose entire day revolves around their kids and it has become their routine for a long time.

It can take time to adjust to suddenly taking care of only yourself after years of picking up after your kids.

The child’s perspective

From the perspective of kids, it can be difficult to leave their parents behind.

The real world can be scary once they’re now outside their comfort zone.

We all love our parents so much and it can be challenging to think of them alone in the home as they grow old.

Lindsay mentioned that in American culture millennials sometimes come back home.

They are called boomerang millennials.

This happened mostly during the financial crisis and many experienced being laid off from their jobs or having to close down their business.

To be able to get back on their feet, they needed to return home to save money.


Here is a quick roleplay from Lindsay and Michelle on how to use these expressions in a conversation.

In this scenario, Lindsay and Michelle are friends and their kids have gone off to college.

Michelle: I can’t believe we are empty nesters now. How do you feel?
Lindsay: It’s hard! Very bittersweet. They were just babies and now they have flown the coop.
Michelle: Yes. So weird. Well, I don’t think I’ll be a retiree anytime soon, but I’m going to try to enjoy some of the relaxation.
Lindsay: Yes. If I were retired at this point, it would be too hard for me. I want to stay busy for a while…but then, one day, I’ll retire!


These expressions are good for connection.

If you’re an empty nester or your parents are empty nesters, you can use insights from today’s episode to start a conversation.

This topic touches on a very nuanced situation and it’s good to know what vocabulary to use to be able to make a strong connection.

Don’t be afraid to expand your vocabulary.

Keep practicing and don’t worry about being perfect in English.

What’s important is you keep practicing and keep doing what needs to be done to easily express yourself using the English language.

Are you an empty nester or are your parents empty nesters?

Share how you feel in the comments below.

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