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  • Writer's pictureMicki Bare

Boomerang home gym

In olden times, when I was on the brink of adulthood, parents like mine went through what was called Empty Nest Syndrome. It happened when the youngest child left home and the parents had their big house all to themselves.

Beagle in home gym
My beagle, Lily, keeping my workout honest.

In those golden days of yore, adult children not only left the nest, many of them moved far away. Even if they only moved a town or two away, parents in my parents' generation were blessed with the opportunity to transform their children's bedrooms into alternate use rooms. Oh sure, one remained a guest room for when that out-of-town offspring flew in for a visit. But the others could be an office, library, den, or, best of all, a home gym.

Hubby and I are not living in olden times. Rather, we are part of the boomerang era. Our adult children leave for a brief time, then return (like a boomerang) to launch a career, change careers, save for a decent house—you get the picture. Boomerangs have the potential to stall the transformation parents started dreaming about during the teen years.

Those of you with teens or young adult children are familiar with such dreams. Every time a door is slammed by a 16 year old, a parent's mind wanders to the fantasy of lining that child's bedroom walls with shelves and pulling boxes of books out of the attic to create a personal library. Every time a 14 year old talks back, a parent visualizes paint colors for when that child's bedroom becomes a home office.

The transformation period is what gets us through the struggle of the teen years. It's also why we love HGTV makeover shows.

So what are boomerang parents to do? I'll tell you exactly what we do. We transform anyway.

Boomerang parents of the world, stand your ground! Take that brief time your kids are gone—college or the first apartment that they'll give up when your house is closer to their job and they want to save for a car that runs—and reclaim your space. The kids that boomerang back can take temporary refuge in the guest room or on a pullout couch over the garage. And don't you dare feel guilty—they're still getting free internet, utilities, and food in a rent-free, super supportive environment.

We stood our ground and transformed despite our boomerangs. Now my oldest's former bedroom is my beautiful home office. It's spacious, convenient, and has a great view. I may just telework until retirement.

Another former bedroom was commandeered recently for use as our home gym. One of the boys left an upright stationary bike. Another left a recumbent stationary bike. And there's also my trusty Gazelle, which I've had for decades. Santa brought under-the-door sit up bars, a couple of 2-pound weights, and a couple of 5-pound weights. And I found an old jump rope, which I hung in the closet.

The gym is conveniently located across the hall from my office, There's no gym membership to pay. We don't have to get into a cold car and then circle the parking lot for a space. There aren't any strangers breathing heavily and sweating next to us. Hubby and I (and our boomerang boys) can safely practice healthy exercise habits every day, any time.

And, someday, when our boomerangs settle in nests of their very own, we might spring for a new treadmill and wall-mounted smart-TV.

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