Many young women dread Midlife because they are afraid of aging. Old age is full of scary unknowns and eventually leads to death. Throw the horror stories that have circulated over the years about menopause into the mix and no wonder the Millennials are in no hurry to leave their 20s and 30s. (Insert sad trombone here.)
Whether you’re on the cusp of Midlife right now or you’re still a young whippersnapper, I’ve got some excellent news for you. Being a member of the “mature sisterhood” is nothing to be depressed about and in fact, there are plenty of things to be happy about during Midlife! Setting aside menopause and all of its mystery for a moment, consider the possibilities for a life well-lived in the middle years. I’ll be 50 years old in a few months and my life is completely different from the way it was just five years ago. Our kids are all grown up and on their own, and we moved into a new house in a new town last year. We do a lot of traveling as well as attending local events on the weekends. We’re busy, but in the best way. This life I’m living right now is what my husband and I have envisioned ever since I became pregnant the first time. We made sure to put our relationship on the top of our list of priorities as we were raising our boys, knowing back then that where we have now arrived would be much enriched by doing so.
Here is a short list of things that are great about this stage of life:
- Less cooking. After more than two decades of cooking for a family of four that included two hungry boys, it’s been an adjustment to decrease the size of our prepared meals but in so many ways it’s much easier. Salad for three consecutive days? No problem!
- More self-care. These days I do my makeup every single day, even if I’m not leaving the house. I moisturize my face and use other beauty products I never “had time for” before. I take a bath after a hard workout, and I exercise every single day. I stay in pajamas until lunch sometimes. Not having anyone else to take care of opens up the schedule for all kinds of wonderful self-care habits.
- More freedom. No more spending hours in the car driving kids around to their various extracurriculars means that my day is wide open to fill with whatever I choose. More free time in my schedule also makes it easier for me to step out of my box and try something new, too! Barbara Bradley Hagerty recommends that we “lean into fear, not boredom” in addition to making goal-setting a priority, and this article has 30 suggestions for what to do after the children grow up and leave home.
- Cheaper travel. Not only do I have more time for travel, but because I am not tied down to the school schedule of my kids, I can take advantage of less expensive flights and hotel stays (and lighter crowds!) in the off-season.
- Cleaner house. With only two of us under this roof (meaning fewer bodies and a lot less stuff), it’s so much easier to clean up after ourselves and keep everything looking nice.
- More money. While everyone’s income and expenses vary widely, there’s no denying that when the kids move out, more money becomes available in the family budget. It’s like getting a raise!
What I have found out about Midlife so far is that a great attitude is everything. The Women’s Health Network recommends that it helps when we don’t worry about the future, obsess about things we cannot control, or fixate on our appearance. Focusing on the good stuff that’s happening as well as the amazing things to come may help us cope with the symptoms of menopause much more effectively, and there’s more. A study found that women between 50 and 70 are even happier after menopause, because negative mood and depressive symptoms decreased over the following years.
Adding to all of this good news is that we are finally bringing conversations about menopause out into the open. It’s no longer embarrassing to talk about hot flashes, mood swings, and all of the other symptoms that make our physiological change of life so annoying. Most of all, women are realizing they aren’t alone. Embracing the change—and all it entails—can lead to so much happiness. Things are looking up!
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