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How to Spend The Summer Before Sending Your Teen Off To College

Updated on July 19, 2016

Having Fun and Life Lessons

It's so important to make the last summer with your teen at home count. This is the last time they'll truly be living with you (you hope). Sure, they'll be back for visits and even summers perhaps but it will always be "visiting" home from now on instead of just living there. You have to prepare them for the world but you also want to enjoy every last minute of things being as they are. I'm sending my own teen off in a month after having her sister leave 2 years ago and this is what I've learned about making that last summer both memorable and useful for the rest of their lives.

Cram In As Many of Those Last Minute "Before College" Lessons As Possible While Having Fun Together

  • Enjoy Being Lazy and Streaming Shows Together. I've been revisiting my college years and sharing them through "Felicity" episodes. It's allowing us to spend quality time together with Hulu and snacks while broaching subjects as important as "how to decide your major", that "she's always welcome at Thanksgiving", "What kind of attributes to look for in Dates", "What kind of jobs are good to have in college" and even "Date/Acquaintance Rapes at Colleges". The trick here is that for once my wisdom isn't coming off as a boring lecture that getting tuned out. We're listening to each other. And we're looking forward each day to trying to get an episode or two of time together. You have a teen boy who certainly won't find watching "Felicity" with you fun? Try "A Different World" or even "Coach".
  • Have Kitchen Competitions and Projects. Cooking has been one of our projects lately too. Admittedly, She has plans to mostly survive on dining plan options, ramen and Ben and Jerry's but we've been cooking together much more this summer. While she's learning some cooking techniques I've even been able to squeeze in a little nutrition advice. We've made these cooking "lessons" less like lessons and more like joint projects and games by incorporating "Hello Fresh" and it's simple healthy recipes and then critiquing and rating each one. We also play our own home version of "Iron Chef" where we gather with family and friends and compete against each other with new recipes while all sharing in the judging and deliciousness. The kid's friends actually beg us to host "Iron Chef" competitions and frequently ask to come over to dinner.
  • Let them act as though they're already away (at least mostly). No bedtimes or curfews, mom's laundry service, enforced breakfasts, or forced room cleanings. Now is the time to let your college student see what's it's like to be a grown up while you're still safely nearby and the consequences are smaller. As much as possible allow them all the freedoms and responsibilities they'll have soon before they are completely out of your sight and expected to make 8am classes. This is when they need to learn that if you stay up or out all night three days in a row the next day doesn't go well. It's better for them to learn this now by not being able to enjoy Sunday brunch or Saturday's shopping trip or movie night than in a few weeks by missing classes. They might even have time to figure out that even if they don't feel much like eating in the morning if they don't have a few bites then they can't really get it together and think clearly before lunch. How is this Fun? Believe me your teen will think being treated as an adult with no curfew or admonishments to clean their bedroom is a blast.

Planning for the Big Move Out/Move In Day
Planning for the Big Move Out/Move In Day

Help Your Teen Earn Pizza Money and How to Adult at the Same Time. My Teen is working this summer but as a seasonal job that she has to fit around trips, school orientations and band functions she's not earning a ton. A great way to supplement your teens dorm decorating fund or pizza money for the fall is to hire them to do errands and jobs you'd usually do for yourself. You get your life long dream of a personal assistant and they get an important skill set and a little extra cash. Sure the money is coming out of your bank account but you were going to be hit up for money in few months when they run out anyway. This way, you're getting stuff taken off your plate and they're learning important adulting skills at the same time. I've been having my teen do everything from drop off and pick up dry cleaning to call and make Dr. appointments for the family. And it's benefiting everyone. Today's teens often need practice speaking on the telephone in business type situations and now is the perfect time to practice. After all they might have to call the student health center in a few months when they're not feeling well and they don't need the added stress of feeling out of their element doing it. Tasks and errands that could benefit you both include: calling to pay bills or request repairmen, researching the price and reviews of items online, clipping coupons and menu planning, ordering and picking up prescriptions, or even booking hotel rooms for the summer vacation.

The Most Important Thing They Know Before College

What is the most important or necessary thing you'll talk about before they leave for college?

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Don't Forget To Have Fun and Make Memories

I could rationalize that I've been playing "Pokemon Go" and going to the beach and pool with my daughter because it's good exercise and an opportunity to reinforce how important it is to get out and be active. It does that but the truth is it really fills one of my main objectives for this summer, to have fun and make memories that will hold me until that first visit. I've had a wonderful time catching Rattatta and exploring our town and it's parks with the family. Trips to the beach and pool are also fun and great bonding and stress relief for us all. I'm laughing a lot, taking pictures and enjoying every moment of us together as a family. I hope that the memories of these great times will help her to navigate any homesickness and to look forward to visits home. Every day is about making memories and enjoying each other's company.


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