The First of Many Lasts…

first of many lastsToday is the first of many lasts – our daughter started her senior year of high school.

This is a year that will be filled with many last events – last time marching in the high school band, last winter concert, last festival, …  It’s the kind of year filled with a mix of emotions and tears (both joy filled and sentimental).

Yes, we’ve had other last like the last day of kindergarten and elementary school. But, this time it is a marker of our young woman becoming more independent.

Proud? You bet!

Yet, I have noticed there are tons of books (and now blogs) about preparing for your baby. There is information on getting your child ready for school. What I don’t see is much to assist parents with this transition from teen to young adult – the how to prepare yourself and them for the empty nest.

During the last couple months I’ve taken some time to discuss this transition with friends who have recently gone through it. Here is some of what I have gleaned.

  1. Be sure you have maintained a relationship with your spouse/partner over the years. While setting aside time to “date” while you have children is not easy, it can be done. We elected to have a date night meal for just the two of us where we can visit without our child.  When she was young that meant movie night for her. Now, it is generally her night out with friends.
  2. Keep note of your personal interests. When the extra loads of laundry end and the scheduling life around a child’s schedule there will be time to fill. Filling it with your loves can be important.
  3. Allow yourself to miss the daily interactions. The child will have their own life which means checking in every hour or every day may not be appropriate. You have to adjust. Which leads to #6.
  4. Create new traditions with your child especially around points of contact. For example, since I left for college Saturday morning is my time to call home and check in.
  5. Have friends that are yours for reasons other than they are the parents of your child’s friends. Yes, these friendships through our child may remain. but we also need friends who share our interests and passions. Sometimes this is the same people, sometimes it is different.

What advice would you offer to parents as they begin a senior year with their child?