The time is approaching to send your teen off to her first year of college. How did this time possibly arrive so fast? Don’t you remember getting dropped off at college yourself like it was yesterday? Though your head and heart may be spinning with questions and emotions, this summer is essentially a milestone moment for your family. Thinking through how you would like to ensure that you get in some bonding time with your teen in advance is important so you can both make the most of this special summer.
Your teen is filled with the excitement of finishing high school. A whole new life filled with freedom and long-awaited dreams coming true is practically within her grasp. Though your mind may be focused on where your precious baby has gone, you have to meet your teen where she is at so you can be part of her summer experience. Finding the balance between respecting her independence and sneaking in some bonding time will be key.
Here are five ways to make it happen:
1. Plan a Vacation
If there was ever a time to plan a well-deserved vacation, this is it. Your family has survived the stress of your teen finishing high school and going through the college application process. You all need a break, and a family vacation is a perfect way to get in quality time with your teen. Whether it’s a week or a weekend away, camping near your house or at a resort far away, meals and relaxation and fun activities all together will be what you are looking for. No family vacation comes without a bit of bickering and moments of tension, but if you go into it with the intention to truly just be with your teen and have fun, you will be thankful for this memory-making time.
2. Shop and organize for college together
No matter how simple your family likes to keep things, there will be some shopping and organizing that is necessary before your teen goes away to college. Helping your teen with this process is a go-to bonding experience for you both. Whether you’re perusing bed sheets, posters, clothes, or school supplies, it will give you both an exciting task and project to work on together.
3. Parent Child Journal Writing
You and your teen are both going to be going through a range of emotions this summer. Many of those feelings will be hard to talk about, especially with your teen’s busy schedule. Writing your feelings down in a shared journal can be an easier way to express yourselves while also creating a safe space for both of you. Whether you use a journal designed specifically for this like this one, or whether you simply present her with a blank notebook where you explain the concept, this could become a treasured tradition for the two of you that might even continue once she’s off to college.
4. Volunteer together
Whether you commit to helping at the local food pantry a few times this summer or doing a more intensive day of action together, there is something about having a goal to help others that has nothing to do with either of your personal agendas that can allow for a special kind of bonding. You can pick a cause that you both care about and plan your volunteer work schedule for the summer together. Even if you’re too busy to really talk during the actual work, your mutual admiration for each other during this time can only help you feel closer to each other.
5. Schedule a weekly walk, run, or hike together
Whether it’s a new Sunday evening tradition or something you both squeeze in before work, even twenty minutes of active time together will feel good. You can both destress and better your health. Plus, being involved in action where you’re not staring at each other face to face can lend itself to comfortable conversation and bonding time.
No matter which options you choose as a way to bond with your teen before college begins, the most important thing is to go into it with the right intentions. You will both be feeling your own stresses and not putting too much weight on any one activity is important. Simply make yourself available and try. Your teen may not show it, but she will be thankful for your efforts, whether she realizes it now or later on.
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