When my daughter graduated in 2021, I tried to be intentional about the time we spent together that year. I should have started sooner, but better late than never, I guess. I have a junior, so maybe I’ll do better with her. To all of you parents out there that have kids that are graduating and going off to college, my heart goes out to you. We’ve created a list of ideas of things to do with your senior throughout their senior year to help make memories that last!
10 Ideas For A Memorable Senior Year
1. Take a special family vacation! Go somewhere that your upcoming 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 when they go off to college but remember, if they have siblings, it’s going to be hard on them as well. Spending time together now will give everyone memories to hold on to when the time apart happens.
2. Go on a date with your child! We selected a date and I told her she could choose to do whatever she wanted, just she and I that day. She chose lunch and a trip to the Color Me Mine where we selected our own ceramic to paint together. I painted a utensil jar for the kitchen and she made a matching spoon holder for the stove.
3. Buy them something special to take with them. When my daughter left, I packed a storage tote with special items. I got her a mom/daughter keychain, a ring, a student Bible, some of her favorite candy, an encouraging daily calendar and a small photo album with all her favorite people in it.. You could put as much or as little in it as you want. She opened it the first night away after we had moved her into her dorm. Some other ideas are 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! Ok, maybe not all of them, but I know that I did let my girls in on some of my secrets before my oldest left for college, mostly because I didn’t want her to make the same mistakes that I had. I mean, it is our job to build them into better people than us, right? 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. Let them know that it’s ok to have fun without going too crazy!
5. Have professional portraits taken of your family! Now, more than ever, it will be harder for everyone to get together. Schedules will be all over the place, you may not even be in the same city or state soon, and you will want to see those sweet faces every chance you get! We have always gotten family pictures every year. It’s a great way to see the changes in my kiddos and in how our family grows and changes.
6. 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. Play with 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. And if they come to you to do any of this stuff, take the time to do it. Never look back and regret being too busy with whatever to snuggle, hug, play or talk.
7. 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. Friends may not be blood, but they got your kiddos through some tough years and deserve to have time with them, too.
8. Let them go. I know, I know. This is so much easier said than done! 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. 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. This doesn’t mean that you just wash your hands of them. You’re still there to guide them and direct them, but maybe try waiting until they ask for advice instead of telling them how to handle the situation.
9. 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! Ask to borrow their phone and share some great pics with yourself so you can use them. There’s several great ways to do this. Chatbooks and Shutterfly are good places to start.
10. Teach them the basics of life! Hopefully, you’ve been doing this all along, but if not, now is the time. Teach them how to change a tire, do their own laundry (it amazes how many kids don’t know this), write a check, address an envelope, make a doctor appointment. These things used to be taught early, now, many kids get to college and beyond without knowing.
If you've got a senior preparing to leave the nest, I hope these ideas will help you make the most of their senior year! Congratulations on having a senior! If you are looking for a family or senior photographer to capture these memories, reach out to AFH Media, today.