Almost 30 years ago my wife and I decided to go camping at the end of each year to create a family tradition, and we have done just that. But this year something was different and it took us a while to work it out.
Nanjing Night Net

The holiday seemed a bit empty, a bit pointless, and after a few days we realised that it was the first camping holiday without children. Well, without dependent children – our 16-year-old son was with us but he didn’t need to be entertained or even supervised by us, with the result that for the first time we weren’t building our day around children. We didn’t rise to meet the needs of children, we didn’t need to do things to keep them occupied and entertained, we weren’t keeping track of children, watching out for them, dealing with the spats and crises and outbreaks that dot a family day. And, I suppose, we weren’t meeting the parents of other children.

Every year we’ve traipsed loaded with towels, bags and surf paraphernalia to the beach and a couple of hours later we’ve dragged ourselves back over the hot dunes to the camp, but not this year. Indeed, we didn’t go to the beach once!

Yes, camping seemed to be a bit pointless. Is this life after children?

Of course life will change when children leave the home, and in our case four of the five have left already. That has been a gradual change, made the less stark by occasional extended returns, whereas the holidaying change seemed sudden.

The big changes at home have been the elimination of noise, the huge reduction in time spent ferrying children about, and the subsiding of the bustle and busyness that fills a house of children. More time, I suppose, for parents, who hope one day to be grandparents, but time to do what? How have you handled, or will you handle, the change in your life when children fly the coop?