This is one thing that I am dreading already and my kids are only 4 and 6 years old! I can already tell you that I will be a blubbery mess by the end of this post. So to all of you parents out there that have kids that are graduating and going off to college, my heart goes out to you. I’ve created a list of things that I hope to one day do with my kids before they go off to college that will hopefully make the transition more fun, exciting, and a little less painful…oh who am I kidding, I’m just going to get an apartment wherever they go to college!
1. Take a special family vacation! Go somewhere that your high school grad wants to go, that will mean something, and that everyone will remember. Have fun, relax, and spend some time enjoying each other as a family. It’s going to be hard on you parents when they go off to college but remember, if they have siblings, it’s going to be hard on them as well.
2. Go on a date with your child! My husband and I try to do this every once in a while with our boys now and hope to continue this as they get older. Spending some one on one time so we get to know each child independently to connect and learn their true feelings about what’s going on in their lives is important to us.
3. Buy them something special to take with them! Only you will know what this would be. Something that would be meaningful that they can look at if they are worried or frustrated and think of you. It does not have to be something expensive to have meaning or to be special. Going out into the world on their own can be scary so having something to remind them of home would be something they could treasure.
4. Tell them your secrets! All kids love to hear stories about their parents…especially how naughty their parents were! Tell them about your mistakes, your joys, your loves, your heartbreaks. Let them know what to expect as normal and what to be wary of. Tell them it’s ok to fail and how to get back up and try again. Teach them how to be successful without being prideful or boastful. Let them know that it’s ok to have fun without going too crazy!
5. Have professional portraits taken of your family! The kids are grown so why get a professional!? Because now more than ever it will be harder for everyone to get together. Schedules will be all over the place, you may or may not be in on city or state (great, here come the tears), and I promise you will want to see those sweet faces every chance you get! No matter how old they are, my boys will still be my babies (sappy, I know) but it’s true and those photos will be just as important to me as if they were babies.
6. Talk about hard things! What if something were to happen to you and your spouse? What if they were to get pregnant or to get someone pregnant? What if they lost a scholarship? What if they just hated school and wanted to come home and find a job? Tell them what it feels like when you found your wife/husband. Talk about the kind of parent you hope they will be someday…way, way, way, way…..way down the road.
….crying like a baby…
7. Hug them often! Don’t miss your chance to hold them close and tell them you love them. Kiss them on the cheek or on the forehead. Ruffle their hair and hold their hand. Sit on their bed and talk about their day. Snuggle on the couch and watch their favorite movie. Let them know that you are there and you will be there if they need you.
8. Give them time with their friends! They have built up these friendships over their whole lives and they will most likely be leaving the majority of these people. It feels like the end of something very big and it’s a very hard transition. Give them some time.
9. Make a book of recipes of their favorite meals! Chances are they will be living in a dorm but there is usually a shared kitchen of some kind. They will be thankful that they know how to make some of their favorite meals when they are missing home. Even if it doesn’t turn out just like mom’s it will make them feel a little better with a comfort meal.
10. Let them go! This is so much easier said than done (sob, sob, sniff, sniff)! If you keep them on a tight leash right up until they leave for college, they will most likely go crazy when they get to college because they don’t know what to do with all the freedom…just my opinion and in my experience this is what happened. You are welcome to disagree. Give them more freedom, more responsibility, more decisions to make. This is what you have trained them for…once they graduate they are on their own…let them practice while they are home with you to catch them when they fall. That doesn’t mean that I won’t worry and wait up till they are home or I know where they are.
11. Make a photo book of their high school years! This is one of my favorites! Pick the best moments and favorite memories over the years, photos with friends, family, special events, etc and add them all to the book. It makes such a special book and this way your senior doesn’t feel like they are leaving their friends behind!
12. Teach them the basics of life! That means how to change a tire, wash, dry, and iron their cloths, do the dishes, cook very simple and basic meals (at least), how to drive in snow, ice, rain, etc.
This list comes to mind as I think about all of the seniors that are about to graduate and the seniors that will be graduating in the coming years. My husband and I worked with youth group kids years ago and some of these things were things that we did with them as well. We learned a lot from some of their parents. I only hope that my husband and I are cool enough for our boys that they want to spend time with us so that we can actually accomplish some of the things on this list when the time comes.
Whew! That was probably the most emotional I’ve gotten writing a blog! Now, what are some of your parent bucket list items for your child’s senior year!? Please comment below so I can add some more fun things to my list!
your friendly neighborhood alamosa portrait photographer