Networking for Empty-Nesters
On the heels of a high-energy event put on by Cencup, many empty-nester attendees probably found themselves reflecting on their relationship with their significant other and their newfound kid-less freedom. Or at least giving their calendars a reality check to discover that their spousal social life was pretty void of activities other than dinner and a movie.
“Not that dinner and a movie is a bad thing,” says Jackie Grant, founder of Cencup, an organization that connects empty-nester couples to other like-minded couples. “It’s just that we could spice things up a bit. We could have a more exciting social calendar based around our interests and maybe even meet new people and explore ventures we’ve never tried before.”
Cencup (Connecting Empty Nester Couples to Meet UP), pronounced sync up, pays special attention to the transition that occurs when your children become independent. This phase, often labeled as the empty-nest phase, is a time in life that most couples aren’t entirely prepared for (see the video for background). Even though you know this point and time is coming, often a defining event, like dropping off your kid at college for the first time, comes with emotions and a change in daily life and relationships that can’t be fully anticipated.
The kick-off Cencup event at the Radisson Blu at the Mall of America on February 27, was the first foray into connecting empty-nester couples seeking to improve their own relationships and branch out to meet others. The event, $65 per couple, was classy, interactive and inspirational. The sponsors from Simon Says Give to top realtor Julie Trones and financial advisor Matt Kleffman to yes, you might have guessed it, AARP, all play important supportive roles in the Cencup ‘s mission.
Improv emcees Jim and Greta, formerly with the Brave New Workshop and a couple themselves, worked the room during the arrival to gather index cards of insight on first date scenarios from attendees. Later during the program portion, they wove them together into a first date from hell type tale. Hilarious! This little story served to remind couples of what it was like to be new in their relationship (some couples with 33 years+ logged together had to dig a little deep) and also connected people at the event. Well done.
Jackie and her husband closed on a high note, highlighting their passion to be a resource and connector-type group for this currently underserved market. With a structure in place surrounding events based on interest areas like travel, watching sports and outdoor adventures, couples filled out their profile at the event and got a glimpse of what they could find themselves doing in the next 90 days (see the calendar here). You can bet moonlight snowshoeing on the river bluff wasn’t on most attendees list of top ideas prior to arriving.
Full disclosure: I’m not an empty-nester myself. My kids are 12 and 10. I’m in it to support Jackie in her marketing and event planning efforts. However, there is no official age requirement for couples to join in the fun. My husband and I enjoyed our evening and are definitely going to hit up at least one of the Cencup outings in the near future. In fact, we were just commenting months ago that we feel like we’re in a new phase because our kids are more independent even though they haven’t left the nest quite yet.
In recapping the event with my 10 year-old son and defining empty-nester for him, he found Cencup’s tagline: Life is Meant to be Lived Together, a bit ironic. From his perspective, when the kids leave home a family is not living together. Then I explained the concept from a grown-up perspective. At the outset, just mom and dad live together. We go out. A lot. When kids come along, we whole-heartedly put ourselves into parenting and the mom and dad roles become defining. We stay in. A lot. After kids leave the nest, it’s more like dating and finding your husband and wife roles more at the forefront. So we get to figure out how to be together more.
Admittedly, many of us could use guidance in this transition. Cencup makes this phase fun and full of reconnecting potential. Check out their events, twist your spouse’s arm and try something new this spring and Cencup!