The time has come- your child is entering their last year of high school!
Whether you are ready or not, your child has begun his or her senior year. These next 8 months are sure to be full of excitement, frustration, and intense emotion. Coming up with ways to make this year memorable can get lost among the busy schedules, senior to-dos, and preparations for graduation. I’ve been there- it’s a crazy ride! You want to make sure that you savor this time but not suffocate them. There are many things they’ll want to participate in- football games, senior events, and prom and you should definitely encourage those, but also take time for more personal memories between the two of you.
Here are 8 ways you can make senior year special for your son or daughter-
1. Schedule one on one time
This year is going to present many exciting adventures for your senior- these should include one on ones with you. Going out for lunch or day date, watching a movie together, or shopping for college essentials are all great ways to get time in with her. You can also include the family by heading out on a day hike or going to the lake. Don’t underestimate these moments you spend with your senior.
2. Teach them adulting basics
Many young adults go into the world knowing very little about how to actually function as an adult. Financial skills such as credit card responsibility and budgeting are just the beginning of teaching financial literacy. Make sure she knows how to do laundry, and prepare simple meals that aren’t heated up in a microwave. Another skill that often gets overlooked is how to make appointments for yearly checkups and how to treat simple ailments and medical issues.
3. Book an awesome vacation
If your budget allows, consider taking a really cool vacation as a family this year. If you always go to the beach, maybe choose a more exotic one for this year’s trip. If you always go to see family, maybe a road trip to see the sites along the way is a good idea. My family went on a vacation to Colorado for my son when he graduated in 2021 where him and his dad got to drive cross country, something he always wanted to do. Even a long weekend works, as long as it’s a bit out of the ordinary of the expected.
4. Do one thing they love that you’ve never done with them
Does your senior hike Stone Mountain on Saturday morning with friends? Maybe they take a painting or dance class? Do they love to camp? Consider doing their favorite activity with them. Even if it’s not something you get particularly excited about, it would mean the world to them for you to try it out and take an interest in their interests, even once. And you might even end up enjoying it!
5. Let them fail
As hard as it is, you have to allow your child to fail. And that doesn’t mean swooping in and helping them fix it. You can offer your best advice, but they need to understand cause and effect and disappointment because, yes, that’s life. You won’t always be there to make it all better so they need to know how to deal on their own. Resist the urge to go into mama hen mode every time they don’t get their way.
6. Take photos
This should be part of every year of your child’s life, but as they get older, parents tend to take less and less photos of their children. Take advantage of it when the opportunity presents itself, or be like me, and let them know it’s expected at certain times. My two boys know that I get a family photo at Easter, on our beach vacation every Summer, and Christmas. They moan and groan, but it’s happening. This way, I can guarantee I am at least documenting what they look like every year. Your senior takes so many photos with friends, but you may never have access to them as they are usually destined to spend eternity buried somewhere on her phone. Important– don’t forget to be IN the photos too. Trust me, you don’t need to lose 15 pounds or need your roots done…just DO IT. 5 years from now, you’ll be happy you did. Also, make sure you invest in professional senior photos to ensure you have beautiful pictures to cherish after they leave for college. Check out how we create amazing senior sessions here!
7. Ask how you can help but don’t micromanage
Let them take responsibility for their college applications, interviews, and financial aid paperwork. Be there to answer questions, but don’t hound them about getting it done and definitely don’t do it for them. They need to understand deadlines and the consequences of missing them (see #5). Put them in charge of their senior obligations like dues, fines, SAT scheduling, and setting up meetings with their counselor to talk graduation requirements. Your absence helps prepare them for being adults but knowing you are there to help guide them gives them the confidence.
8. Write them a letter to give at a special time to read alone
If you are the sentimental type, consider writing them a heartfelt letter this year. You can give it to them any time during the year, but make sure they read it when you aren’t right next to them. Leave it in their room or hide it amongst dorm essentials to find while unpacking. What you write and how sappy you get is completely up to you, but knowing you took the time to put into words what they mean to you is priceless.
As much as teens don’t act like it, they need you now more than ever and simple gestures can mean the world to them. Don’t forget that they might be just as scared and hesitant as you are to take on this big world. It can be overwhelming, but you can comfort them by spending time with her and doing special things that show her you love her and want to celebrate this milestone. And if you want more helpful advice about navigating this big year, check out our post 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Senior Photos
Looking for ways to spend more time with her this year before she’s off to college?
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