Apr 162015
 

Today I’d like to share with you how to make DIY custom shaped chair cushions, including cutting the foam, fabric and putting it together.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Late last summer, I picked up a really cute wicker settee and 2 chairs.  (I swear I took pictures of them before and during the refinish process but for the life of me,  I cannot find them!  Don’t you hate that!??)  My nieces and nephews are all young professionals, some with young families, trying to make ends meet.  So when I scored these three pieces at a bargain price, I offered them to my nephew and his wife Laura.  Laura has a great sense of style and really spruced up the curb appeal of their semi detached home located in an area of Toronto, referred to as “the Danforth”.  The Danforth is also home to Greek town, lots of great shops and restaurants and it is right on the main subway line.  All those amenities make prices high and the older homes small.  Regardless, they have a cute covered front porch and they were thrilled to have some free furniture to put out there.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Great curb appeal

She wanted a dark brown finish.  I planned on staining them as I had with my chairs here but when I set to work on them, I found the chairs were not wicker or rattan but PLASTIC!  Sure fooled me!  What a good fake!  So I ended up spray painting them with Rustoleum’s Ultra Cover in Espresso because it adheres to plastic.  The rich colour will look great on their porch.

She found cushions for the settee and I volunteered to make some cushions for the chairs since they were rounded and all she could find was square one. She picked up fabulous outdoor fabric for only $5 a meter because it was nearing the end of summer.  I LOVE this fabric!  I have been crushing on Apple Green for months!

Cutting the Foam

I had some 2″ foam from a big boo-boo I made a few months back when I ordered foam that was too small for the project but it was perfect for this.  Using newspaper, I created a pattern from the chair seat then I traced it on to the foam.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Note the cricket and hockey player photos! Hey! I live in Canada!

I had purchased this electric knife specifically for cutting foam.  It works so well. 

Note:  When cutting foam, you need to pay attention that the blade is at right angles to the face of the foam.  Otherwise you will need to trim it more to make it flat versus angled.

Once I cut the foam, I used the same newspaper pattern to cut out the fabric,
I added another 1/5 inch all the way around for the seam allowance.  Then I cut long 3″ wide strips for the sides of the cushion.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Top and bottom pieces cut 1/2″ wider on all sides for the seam allowance
  and then 3″ long strips for the sides (2″ plus seam allowance)

Pinning and sewing

So many bloggers show every minute detail  but since I have been sewing for decades, I just cut to the chase!

I found the centre back and with right sides together, I started to pin the long side piece all the way around.  Rather than sew together the two ends where they meet, I decided to overlap them.  I think this helped to keep the pieces taut. 

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

I pinned the side piece all the way around and overlapped the ends where they met.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Here is the overlapping. I did do a finished hem on the one that would end up being on the outside.

Sewing and Finishing

I machine stitched the above pieces together, trimmed the seam and zigzagged the edges because this fabric was really ravelling.

I then pinned the bottom piece on to the other edge of the side piece.  I machine stitched it and finished it in the same manner but I did not stitch it all they around.  I needed the opening to insert the foam.  I did however iron the piece where the seam should be so it would be easier to hand stitch closed.  Before I inserted the foam, I also added little ties at the back to keep it from moving off the chair.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Tab ties to hold it to the chair

After inserting the foam, I used a simple slip stitch to close it up! 

The entire process took me a few of hours and all the while I was listening to a recorded book, The Nightengale, by Kristin Hanna.  Fabulour book and a great way to pass the time while sewing, painting, cooking or commuting!

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Nice pop of colour!

IMG_5423

NIce snug and smooth edges

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Nice rounded edges: a custom fit!

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

A custom fit and a great Pop of color!

I sure wish I had the before pictures!  Basically they were that yucky yellowish rattan colour.  I think this brown is really rich and will tie into their house colour and the cushions will add that great pop of colour!

So what do you think?  Nicer Than New?

Have you have made shaped, custom cushions? 
I’d love to hear from you!  It makes my day!

 

Joan

Apr 042015
 
Memory Quilt Polaroid Style

Today I want to share with you  a fabulous way to preserve memories, especially if you have a ton of t-shirts or jerseys just laying around taking up drawer or storage space: A Memory Quilt.  This one is designed around the shape and design of Polaroid photos!

Memory Quilt  Polaroid Style

The finished quilt. Source.

Memory Keeper

Memory Quilt Polaroid Style

LOVE LOVE LOVE IT

It appears I am a real sentimentalist.  Perhaps a bit more than others.  Since I began blogging here at Nicer Than New, I have had a few posts about preserving memories and memorabilia.  The first was called “The Memory Keeper” back in May.  In it, I related how 5 amazing kids grew up on my little court and are now all in university.  I was always the neighbourhood photographer.  They always knew I would have a camera in hand to record their shared events.

The next entry also had to do with photographs when I asked “Are Photo Albums a Thing of the Past?”   I sure hope not but I will keep filing pictures away in hopes the next generation will appreciate the effort.

I also shared a Photoshop creation of my daughter in a ballet pose.  I made it look like an oil painting and printed it on stretched canvas.  A most treasured creation.

My 18 year old daughter has grown up in the digital age.  Memories are shared instantaneously and then  left out there in cyber-world.  Lovely Miss Nice danced on a competitive dance team for 12 years, performed in small plays, public speaking events and many other activities where you get a T-shirt.  They were all stuffed in a drawer.  We also still have team track suits, bits of costumes etc. 

Knowing she was off to university last September, I wanted to send her with some cozy piece of memorabilia to remember her pre-uni days.

My lovely niece, Sheilagh (yes, we are of Irish decent!), who loves to quilt  agreed to help me out.  By day, she is a commercial  interior designer so of course I left the design up to her.  She had always wanted to try a Polaroid design and I agreed.

Be sure to visit her blog: Lay it on Me Baby and check out her post on this design.  Be sure to look at all her GORGEOUS designs!  BTW:  Isn’t that the best blog name for someone who started out making Baby Quilts!  Love it!

Memory Quilt:  Polaroid Style

I raided Miss Nice’s room to dig out t-shirts and other stuff we have both stashed away over the years… Montessori pre-school t-shirt, dance competition t-shirts, her dance team track suit, t-shirts from voluteer activities including her trip to the Philippines and swatches for dance competition costumes to name a few.

I did not tell Miss Nice of our plan.  My niece lives in London, Ontario which is a couple hours drive from Toronto.  When I delivered to her the fabulous Mid-Century coffee table I refinished for her last spring, I also passed on a garbage bag full of all the t-shirts etc.  Miss Nice was with me and had no idea!

I asked for a “throw” sized quilt and I wanted one side to be a soft “Minky” type of fabric. 

The end result is so fun and quite artistic.  Since each piece is small, she “cropped”  the t-shirt in some interesting ways.  Others may not know the significance but Miss Nice does. 

Here are a few:

Montessori Pre-School.

They had a t-shirt they wore on school excursions.  Yup!  I saved it!

Memory Quilt  Polaroid Style

The insignia from her Montessori Pre-School. She thrived there!

Dance Studio Track Suit

Memory Quilt  Polaroid Style

Competitive dance for 12 years.

 

NBA Raptors Mini Dance Pack

This was so much fun for her and her best friend to be selected to be part of this team when she was 10 or 11.  Yes, she danced on the basketball floor at quarter time!  Funnily,  to this day, she has NO CLUE about basketball!

Memory Quilt  Polaroid Style

NBA Raptors Mini Dance Team

Swatch from her School Uniform

Miss Nice attended a designated Arts School for 6 years.  She owned only ONE KILT for all that time.  No regrets having that thing cut up!

Memory Quilt  Polaroid Style

A swatch from her school kilt.

Swatch from Summer Camp Hat

Miss Nice attended the Centauri Summer Arts Camp four summers.  If your child is interested in the arts and you want to give them an amazing experience with professionals in their fields, be sure to check out their website.   If you go the the Musical Theater page, Miss Nice is pictured in the banner.  In summer of 2016, she hopes to be a counselor there.

Memory Quilt  Polaroid Style

Fabulous Arts Camp near Niagara Falls, Canada

Service Trip to the Philippines

When Miss Nice was in Grade 11, over her Christmas break, she traveled with a group of students and teachers to assist in building houses and working with kids in the slums of Manila.  It was rewarding and life changing.

Memory Quilt  Polaroid Style

Life changing experience

Intricate Stitching

Beyond the very clever design, you can see in the photos the intricate stitching Sheilagh used.  Working with t-shirt material was a bit tricky but we think the end result is PERFECT:  A cozy back with all sorts of special memories on the front.

What a lucky girl!

What do you do with t-shirt and other textile memorabilia?

Ever thought of having a quilt made?

I look forward to all your comments
and be sure to follow me any way you wish!

 

Joan

Mar 222015
 

You can do some amazing stuff in Photoshop Elements, including creating “Oil Paintings”.  I absolutely love dabbling in PhotoShop Elements  (PSE) and the things you can do with are endless.   I am totally self taught but I own numerous how-to books and have sat through many many how-to videos.   I have tried so many things but to be honest, when you are not immersed in it, you can easily forget the steps. 

About 7 years ago, when my daughter was very involved in a competitive dance program, I started a little “business”.  I should really call it a labour of love of dance because there was no profit.   When there were studio performances where I could take photos, I rented a long, fast lens.   At most competitions, we were not allowed to photograph performances but we could purchase the photos on CD.  In both cases, I used my Photoshop skills to create unique collages or clean up photos for myself and other parents.  Although I made no profit,  I made many a dance mom happy with my creations.

Today I want to share one of my most treasured creations using PSE.  The original photo was purchased on CD at one of the competitions.  In a group ballet picture, my daughter commented to me “Look Mom, I am doing a perfect arabesque!” For her to actually say something positive about a dance photo was pretty rare so I thought I would take a stab at seeing what I could do with it.  She is one of many and I knew  if I “extracted” her from the photo, it would be grainy but  I decided to work on it anyway, just for fun.

Here is the original photo:

Ballet_background copy

There’s Miss Nice in the middle doing a “perfect arabesque” (apparently)

 

Using the tools in PSE, I “extracted” her to a new file.  First, I made a rough selection, similar to the one above and erased all the other dancers.  I then further defined the selection by using the following tools

  • Magic Wand
  • Quick Selection
  • Magnetic Lasso
  • Zoom

Once I had the “cutout”  I was sure to SAVE the selection.  It can be a tedious process to have to re-do.  Trust me I have forgotten to save selections many times.

Because everything in PSE is in layers, I was then able to make copies of the cutout and apply filters as well as experiment with adding various backgrounds.  I must admit, I am far from being an  EXPERT but the more you read up on techniques and experiment, the more you learn. 

A Simple Preliminary Version

The photo below is a simple, preliminary version using a background created using a cloud pattern found in PSE and a fill colour layer.

Paint effect with a cloud background created in Photoshop

 

Screen shot of the layers used.

 

 

Final Version

At the time, I was editing dozens of dance photos for dance parents and I had purchased some interesting backgrounds.  Using the same picture, and a purchased background, I came up with this final version.

Final version printed on canvas

 

The various layers used

 

  In the photo above,

  • Layer 3 is the purchased background. 
  • The layer “Floor” is a copy of the floor from the original picture set at an opacity of 50%.  This allows the reflection on the floor to show through.
  • “Merged layers”  is just that, a layer of all the layers below merged together.  I then made copies of the merged layer to apply various artistic effects.  By making copies, you never ruin or lose your work.
  • For this print, I only used a filter called “Dry Brush”.  I also tried “Underpainting” but as you can see there is no eye symbol next to it so it is not visible.

Before and After Comparison

Below is a comparison of the original and the final with the adjustments made.  The look is very subtle but it looks smooth and not grainy.

A close-up cropped from the original photo: grainy

 

A close up of the finished photo with background removed and “oil paint” filter applied. Hides the graininess.

Once finished, I dropped it off at Costco to be printed on a stretched 12″ x 18″canvas.  I also had it framed with a simple narrow black frame.  It hangs in the hallway next to the guest bath where it often admired by all who see it. 

My Beautiful Ballerina

 

 

I too stop and admire it often. 

Not only am I proud of my work, I am proud of my beautiful daughter who was all of 12 years old at the time.  I have many, many other “creations” of photos taken of various  routines but for some reason, this one really touches my heart.  Even though ballet was not her favourite dance style, she still loved it.   For me this creation really portrays the joy dance gives her.  I will treasure it forever.

Now Miss Nice is at university and still takes dance classes and finds opportunities to perform but it is a far cry from the hours she put in during those 12 years of competitive dance.  April is the beginning of dance competition season.  I don’t miss the craziness of it all but I do miss watching her perform. 

So for now, I will stop in front of this “painting” and reminisce.  

Have you dabbled in Photoshop? 

Photoshop Elements is relatively inexpensive compared to the full version.  There are so many great “how-to” books out there.  I usually get mine from the library.  Toronto has an amazing library system.  Some of the books are even available on line, for free,  from the library.  If I really like the book, I may purchase it and add it to my reference library.

So many effects can be created in Photoshop. 
What have you tried? 
I would love to here about your experiments.

 

Joan

Mar 112015
 
Are photo albums a thing of the past

In this age of digital everything, are physical photo albums a thing of the past?

A LONG Winter and Now:  Bronchitis

I recently shared how my husband and I survived this LONG winter.  I really should have said “mentally” survived!   The day before I shared the long winter post,  I went out snowshoeing with my friend and our two dogs for an hour or so.  It was a bit longer than planned because even before we started, I commented I felt I was getting a cold.  That afternoon we were hit with a big ice storm (yes, ,more crappy winter weather!) and in the evening we lost power until nearly noon the next day. 

I am sure it was just coincidence but I woke up in the cold house with whopping, nasty chest cold!  Bronchitis to be exact. 

Why??
Why me??

Today is Day 8 and it has let up a bit but not to the point I can be really busy and actually move around a lot and “DO” something.   It seems if I move a lot, like dash up the stairs, I have a 15 minute coughing fit.   I am very fortunate, in that I am not working outside the home and do not have small children.  However,  I am in my 50s and this has really “Socked it to Me!”.   (You may need to be a child of the 70s to get that Goldie Hawn line.)

Photo albums a thing of the past

“SOCK IT TO ME” (source)

Sorting Photos

Okay enough “Poor Me”, so what does all this have to do with PHOTO ALBUMS?

You see, I have been an avid photographer for years.  I even developed my own black and white way back in the day so I have DOZENS and DOZENS of photo albums.  I also have HUNDREDs of printed pictures, needing sorting, labeling, filing and framing.  Some stacks go back 3 or 4 years.  These are mostly travel photos along with some family and artistic attempts.   Not all will go into albums, it’s also time to update the gallery wall.

With this bronchitis, I have barely gotten out of my PJs, or bed for that matter, meaning I have been unable to tackle active, productive projects like sanding and painting.  Looking around,  I decided it is time to get out the boxes of photos and empty albums and get to work on them.  Nice quiet, non-stressful activity.  This will also be a MAJOR de-cluttering / organizing task that is SO LONG OVERDUE!

Photo albums a thing of the past

Sorting and Filing is well underway.

 

photoalbum4

This is most but not all of my albums. Looking from top to bottom, you can almost see the “History of Photo Album Styles”. The top row are the peel and stick type!

 

Photo Albums

I love printed photos. 
Do you?
I love to look at them. 
I love to touch them. 
I love to remember and reminisce over them.

Will my daughter and the next generation value photo albums and the memories they hold as much as I do?

Are printed photos and photo albums following a similar path as music?  I distincely remember my first stereo receiver, turntable, cassette deck and then CD player.  Now all gone.

A couple of summers ago, at the encouragement of my husband and daughter, I sorted through all of my albums, selecting HUNDREDS of  important pictures and sent them to be digitized. I have them on both CDs and a dedicated hard drive.   I did the same with the literally hours and hours of family and vacation video we have on 8mm.  It was an expensive venture but it is very important to me that we preserve these memories.

To date, neither my husband or my daughter have taken a look at what we now have on digital.

Is that not a telling sign?

 Is the effort of labeling and filing photos, in order to capture memories of precious times together, now a  futile effort?

I have also realized I have not printed and filed away our pictures from the trip we took in August of 2013 to Prague and Vienna.  Should I bother?  Will this be the last of my photo albums?

Maybe I am just getting old and old fashioned.

Yes, we are all busy.  Life is moving so fast.   Maybe too fast.

Capturing special moments seems to be no longer all that special.  It is instantaneous.  Then it is on to the next “special” moment. 

Regardless, I will continue to tackle this task over the next few days when I need to sit quietly and watch NetFlix or listen to a book from Audible on my phone.

Do you still print photos and fill photo albums?

Do you think photo albums will go the way of records and CDs and maybe even DVDs?

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Joan

( Did you happen to note the irony in the last sentence before my question? )

 

 

Mar 072015
 

I recently wrote a post describing my unintentional blogging hiatus.  The puzzling thing about the break in blogging was that I was still busy and had lots to share!  Regardless, today I want to share some etched glass Christmas gifts I made for family.  I had a couple of failures which I will also share.
(NO affiliate links … just the story)

I only see my one brother, his wife and their grown kids at Christmas and we only give little gifts.  All my gifts were around $10 per person.  I decided on a personalized casserole for my SIL, beer glasses for my brother and one of his sons and stemless wine glasses for my other nephew and his wife.

Double walled glass

These are great! They keep the beverage cold and don’t sweat!

 I picked up everything at a great Canadian store called Kitchen Stuff Plus.  They sell all kinds of dinnerware, gadgets, etc. There, I was able to buy all the glassware for my projects.  For the beer glasses, I found these great double walled pilsner glasses.  I did check to ensure they were glass and they were and made in Italy.  I also picked up a Pyrex brand casserole for my SIL and stemless wine glasses.

I used the Martha Stewart etching cream I picked up a Michael’s with a 40% off coupon.  Thank goodness because, although it goes a long way, the creams are expensive!

I purchased the images I wanted to use from the Silhouette Design Store.  After I created the design, I used my Silhouette Cameo to create the stencils on basic dollar store contact paper.  I also used clear contact paper to transfer the stencil to the glassware.  I wanted the monogram to be clear with a etched box around it.

glassetch06

Yup! I am of Irish descent through and through!

glassetch11

Martha’s etching cream is brown…. The little bowls are to stop it rolling.

glassetch03

My SIL’s casserole. The stencil is in reverse and on the OUTSIDE of the bottom.

glassetch14
Etching cream on the OUTSIDE of the casserole.

Fail:  Etching Creams Do Not Work on All Glass

Both of the above attemps FAILED!

I later found the creams do not work on PYREX brand.  Not sure what happened with the other glasses.  It was glass.  When I removed the cream, I was so disappointed…

glassetch19

FAIL! It didn’t make a single mark on the glass.

Successes!

I went back to Kitchen Stuff Plus and picked up some basic glass beer mugs and they worked perfectly!  This time, I decided to have the monogram etched without a frame.  My brother and my nephew loved them!

glassetch32

LOVE THEM!

 

My nephew has a “thing” for owls.  Always has.  He collects owl art so I knew the wine glasses for him and his wife would have owls.  I purchased these images from the Silhouette store as well.  I just love how they turned out!

glassetch27

Aren’t these cute??

glassetch29

Who needs wine glass charms when you have your own owl!?

I think my family were a bit stunned to receive such personalized gifts.  They all seemed to love them but I think they may have thought I put a lot of time and money into them but to be honest, glass etching is SO EASY!  When you have the right type of glass!

You know, after I finished these, I posted pictures on my personal Facebook page and since have created at least 10 other gifts for my friends to give!  Maybe I should keep my “talents” a secret!  LOL

Have you used glass etching cream?

Any failures other than PYREX?

Love to here from you!


Joan

Mar 042015
 
surviving this long winter

I  have a message for all those bloggers who are posting “ALL THINGS SPRING”

Hello people!  It is still WINTER!!

(At least where I am!)

As I sit to write this post, we, the citizens of Toronto are having yet another major snowfall coming through our lovely city.  I can see the pretty white stuff falling ever so softly outside the patio doors of my office. 

surviving this long winter

Yup! That’s the view from my desk. And Yes, it is snowing. AGAIN!

I must admit, it has been a brutal winter in so many areas of North America.  In Toronto, we don’t get astronomical amounts of snow but we often get what is referred to as “lake effect” snow.  The proximity to Lake Ontario can influence the weather in all seasons.

Many people may curse me but I have never really been a WINTER HATER!  In fact, I rather like real winter.  By that I mean the periods of winter when it is cold and snowy versus the wet and slushy version.  Early spring depresses me when the snow turns to slush and everything is dirty and wet and miserable. 

How We Remain Sane In Winter

As I said earlier, I was never a “winter hater”.  Don’t get me wrong, I hate the driving and the inconvenience but if I choose to live in Toronto, Canada, winter is part of the package.

So my philosophy has always been: 

Dress for the cold and it can be fun!

Mr. Nice and I were skiiers.  In fact we met in a “traveling ski club”.  Small ski hills are an hour or so north of the city and there were clubs who organized day and weekend trips.  It was a blast.  It made winter fun!

Now we do not ski so much but we do get outside.

1.  Dog Walking

We’ve had a dog in our lives for over 20 years and for sure, they get you outside.  Our new pup, Chester who is now 9 months old is the ultimate snow lover!  Look at these photos.  How can you stay inside and deny this pup his romp?

surviving this long winter

Snow face. A florescent ball is a must in the snow!

surviving this long winter

It was minus 10 degrees Celsius  (or 14’F)  and who cares!

2.  Curling

In the fall I posted we took up curling.  I thought I was officially a curler at the time of the post  but now, I am the proud owner of official curling shoes and a broom!

surviving this long winter

Curlers wear special shoes. The sole of one shoe had a teflon face allowing you to slide when you throw the rock. Fancy brooms for sweeping

 So yes, NOW it is OFFICIAL!  While this sport is indoors, it is only played in winter.  If you are unfamiliar with curling, it is a great sport and probably one of the most social winter sports ever.  Winners buy losers the first drink and losers buy the second.  BTW, our club makes the BEST hot chocolate! 

Mr. Nice and I have met SO many people this winter via curling!

Lastly, as this winter has dragged on, I made a purchase to encourage us to get out ever more! 

3.  SNOWSHOES!

Now that has to be the ULTIMATE committment to winter! 

Let me tell you…

  • it is cheap
  • it is easy
  • it is fun
  • and you are OUTSIDE!

 Last weekend, we had our inaugral trip on our snowshoes with Mr. Nice and my dog walking pal.   It was SO MUCH fun!  We trapsed around our golf club.

surviving this long winter

Me and Mr. Nice

surviving this long winter

long shadows on a winters day

Today, before this snow began my dog walking buddy and I bravely took our dogs out snowshoeing….for an HOUR!  For the dogs, the snow was deep and a bit crusty on top but they never seem to tire.

Needless to say Chester is sleeping soundly under my desk  …

Winter is a reality.

Just DO it!

I’m 58 years old and LOVE winter

… you can too!

 

Joan

 

Feb 272015
 

Avoiding the Empty Nest Syndrome is not something you can accomplish in a week.  I believe the process covers a long span of time and depends on so many factors.  It will be different for every family.  We are not psychiatrists or social workers and by no means “perfect” parents. We are just a little family who have seemed to have survived the transition.  I thought I would share my reflection on how we seemed to have avoided the “syndrome”.

To begin,  in September 2014, our one and only child moved away to attend Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.   It is only a 2 1/2 hour drive from our home in Toronto but it is far enough away that we don’t drive there to have lunch, for example.

So many friends and relatives ask us how we are doing as “empty-nesters”.   I must admit the transition has not been at all troubling.  Believe me, this is not to say we do not miss our baby because we do ever so much.  However, the missing has not been overwhelming or debilitating. 

Last week, Miss Nice was home for her “Reading Week” and it was so wonderful to have her here even though she was … well … reading, beginning her search for summer employment and catching up with friends.  However, when I dropped her off at the bus station on Sunday night, I felt a real pang of “missing” I had not really felt before.  This pang made me think about what we have done to ensure the “pang” is just that and not a relationship ruining syndrome.


Empty nest syndrome

After some reflection, here are my thoughts:

  • Firstly, let’s go WAY back… Marry your best friend!  As a young professional, I was very independent and somewhat particular about who I got involved with.  Then, when I was 26, in walks a recent British immigrant, wooed to Canada by an international Accounting firm.  What can I say!  We became BEST FRIENDS!  We shared and continue share,  so many interests.

    Empty nest syndrome

     
  • Expose your child to all kinds of activities.   Even for a brief time just to find out what activity could be “their thing”.  As a college professor, I was fortunate to have flexible hours enabling us to introduce her in many after school activities over the years.  We tried to focus on lifelong skills like skating, swimming and skiing.  I must confess sitting on VERY cold bleachers watching her learn to skate or standing on the sidelines watching a very disinterested soccer star, was not easy.   But it was still fun and we all learned from it.  We learned she was not a “jock”.  She too knew she was not “good” but we downplayed the being “good” to just being able to do it and enjoy it.
    M_Skiing_Mar02

    Miss Nice skiing at 6 years old…

     

  • Encourage them be independent.  This can be so difficult.  In some ways we failed and in others we did well.   Eventually, Miss Nice began to participate in competitive dance at an early age. In reality she is a bit of a “triple threat”, as in singing, dancing and acting.  We supported her dreams wherever we could and beyond the studio’s program.  BUT we were realistic and made sure she was too.  Through the time consuming (and expensive endeavor) of Competitive Dance, she gained much confidence.   She was never an “in-your-face”  child.  I can proudly say to this day, she carries herself with a quiet self confidence.
     
    Independence really took hold at 13 when she asked to go on a French exchange program FOR A MONTH!!!   TO FRANCE!!!  The family took her to their summer lakeside home with NO INTERNET so contact with us was not available.  She survived.  She learned much about relationships too with this great experience.  While she was away, we travelled to Portugal to indulge ourselves in our love of travel and exploring countries on the road… Just the two of us… Magic.

When I review this post, it may sound as if we were selfish parents who sent our kid away a lot.  Perhaps we did, but mostly at her request.  When it counted, we were always there.   In 12 years  of competitive dance, and over 100s of performances, I think I missed TWO routines!  and those were for work commitments.  My husband who runs a busy business was also there for far more than many dads.  We tried very hard to not “helicopter” but we tried hard to be there to celebrate her achievements.

You must be asking “So what are you trying to say? What is your point?”

I think I am talking about “Parenting 101” …

  • expose
  • support / be there
  • encourage

And lastly, remember being a parent is about them but sometimes, it needs to be about YOU!

Back to the “Empty Nest Syndrome”

All the while we were supporting her, doting on her, driving her, etc. we never gave up our own interests. 

  • Cut back? Yes. 
  • Try to include her in our interests in tennis and golf, etc.  Yes. 
  • Sacrifice everything so she could do all the things she wanted.  NO!

We continued to squeeze in time for ourselves so we could golf, play tennis, go to yoga, start a book club, have date nights and entertain OUR friends when we could.  Miss Nice was told often how important she was to us but we also reminded her, we were important too.  And she seemed to grasp that early on. 

Her activities were a privilege NOT a right!

We love golf and for YEARS wanted to join a golf club … together.  Knowing she was leaving for university made us realize this was the time.  We joined a club in May.  Then in September we joined their curling program.  Never curled before and we a loving it.  We are planning a summer holiday that may or may not include Miss Nice.  She has travelled with us quite a bit  and has announced she  is “tired of old cities and history”.  I’m thinking Ireland … without her.

Regardless, Mr. Nice and I will do it TOGETHER.  Because we are back to being TWO best friends who can focus on the wonders of each other.  No longer distracted by every day parenting duties and … car pooling.

In conclusion, I must admit we have been blessed with a great kid.  Who is now grown.  Who has entered adulthood.

So my advice to avoid emply nest syndrome is:

  • work hard to encourage your child to be independent
  • do not completely give up your interests for the interests of your child
  • remind your child they were a very welcomed addtion into an existing family… two best friends or two best friends with other children. 

I hope this will give some of my younger parent readers something to think about.

What tips do you have on how to avoid
the “Empty Nest Syndrome”?

Are you an empty nester and how is it going?

Love to hear from you!  Makes my day!

 

Joan

 

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