After The Fall
Once your kid actually leaves, put your plans into action. Have a party to celebrate. If you drop a child off at college, you might not want to go straight home to an empty house - take a few days at the beach to ease the transition. On the other hand, if you're exhausted, go straight home and sleep for a few days, then take a trip. When you get back, re-energize your love life. If you don't remember what that is, check Arp's latest book, 10 Great Dates for Empty Nesters, for ideas.

To feel linked to your child's new life, join the parents' association at your child's college. "That was one of the best things that happened to us," says Mary Anne Barber, previous co-chair of the University of Texas Parents Association. "Getting involved with the college and meeting other parents who are in the same boat helped with the empty nest. One of the things I had missed the most was the interaction with parents of kids who were in school with mine." Ask the Dean of Students' office at your child's college about parent orientations and publications for parents.

And don't forget to let yourself grieve. Go ahead and cry. Talk about your child and all the things you remember and what you'll miss. To give yourself a tangible event to anticipate, make arrangements for future time with your college student, like his trip home for the holidays or a family getaway during the summer.

Most of all, enjoy yourselves. "We think this is the best stage of marriage," says Arp. "We moved. We're traveling more and rediscovering things we liked to do before the kids came along, like playing tennis. We're having a blast." You can, too.

nesting techniques
you don't have to tackle your new life alone. here are some places to seek advice.