Summertime Blues: Spending Time With Your College Kid Before They Say Goodbye

The summer before my son went away to college, I wanted to do it all. Big family vacation, backyard BBQs, baseball games—I planned to spend as much time as possible with Matt. There was just one thing I overlooked: His friends.

For Matt, that last summer before college was all about hanging out with friends before they went their separate ways. For me, that summer was a major freak out time. Instead of having fun in the sun, I was worrying about everything under the sun. Before I knew it, we were packing the car and heading off to KU.

By the time my younger daughter was heading off to school, I did things a whole lot differently. And that summer was a whole lot better. So parents, if you’re looking to squeeze in some quality time with your soon-to-be-college kid, here are a few things you might want to do.

Things to do with your kid the last summer before college:

Realize friends come first. It doesn’t mean your child loves you any less. In their mind, this last summer before college is their last big fling with their friends. So don’t be hurt if they want to go party with their pals instead of their parents.

Schedule “how to” demos. Does your kid know your secret techniques for getting out a grass stain? Can they iron a shirt in a second? Sew a button on a jacket? You can teach them all kinds of tricks and tips they’ll need to know when they’re away at school—while enjoying some together time the summer before college.

Consider taking mini vacations. If you’re planning to go on a family vacation, your son or daughter may be more open to spending a couple weekends at a lake house instead of a week in Florida. I’m not saying your kid wouldn’t love a long vacation; it’s just that they see their time this summer before college as precious. It may be easier to convince them to go on shorter trips because they won’t feel like they’ll be away from friends that long.

Go on shopping dates. You know that checklist of all the things they need for their dorm? Hit the malls together. You can pick up the essentials on the summer before college checklist by planning a few shopping dates throughout the summer. Just try not to wait until the last minute or your “dates” will be stressful and no fun.

Be a little nostalgic. If you have a special park, pizza place or campground you’d always go to as a family, try to plan an afternoon or evening out when you all go back.  It may sound cheesy at first, but when all the funny stories start flying your kid (and you) will love it.

As you can see, it’s really about appreciating the little things this summer before college. Spend as much time as you can with your son or daughter—and try not to let them see you cry when you’re packing up their bedroom.


Do you have any ideas on ways parents can spend more time with their college bound kids this summer? We’d love to hear them!

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