During the holidays many people commented that my son only has 2.5 years left at home! As parents we spend so much time caring for them, helping them grow and gain independence but 18 sounds far away. Suddenly your child is 16 and you realize that he won’t be home for very long! My husband and I took this opportunity to start thinking about what we want to experience with our son while he’s still living with us. I broke the bucket list into 3 parts: things to do, things to teach, wisdom to impart. This encompasses the fun, sentimental, and practical parts of preparing to let your child spread their wings. Some of the things on the list we’ve already accomplished or incorporated, some are in the works, while there are a few that are ideas for the future. I also asked some parents for their input so this is the compiled list below.

Things to Do:
1. Play lots of board games
2. Travel and experience a piece of the world together
3. Do community service projects together
4. Be spontaneous more often
5. Spend extra time with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and loved ones
6. Say I love you often
7. Go Camping
8. Hike parts of the Appalachian Trail
9. Laugh a lot
10. Read together – maybe the same book, maybe different books but together in the
same room with hot cocoa and cookies

Things to Teach:
1. Basic car maintenance – change a tire, check oil, change air filter, put air in tires.
2. Budgeting
3. Insurance information – how to choose and use!
4. Cook basic meals (and a yummy dessert)
5. Laundry

College student

Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

6. To show gratitude
7. How to communicate with those above you (professors, bosses, etc)
8. Time Management
9. Respect for others (specifically in the context of roommates or dating)
10. Do my best to build my child’s confidence at this age, it’s been torn down enough

Wisdom to Impart:
1. Live within your means
2. Be kind and compassionate
3. Forgive, this is as much for you as it is for the other person
4. It’s ok to forgive but not trust again (or at least not right away)
5. You are worthy of love
6. Love others
7. Pay attention to your health, catch problems early
8. Don’t compare yourself to others, be the best version of YOU!
9. Change is one of the great certainties in life, learn how to make the best of it.
10. Major in the majors and minor in the minors: Ask: Is this worth my time, energy and emotion?

There are many more ideas out there, create your own list. Let your teen choose parts of it, start accomplishing these things together. In the midst of the college visits, SATs, and essay writing take time to be a family. That will teach your child the most valuable lessons of all.

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