It’s that time of year. Reflections and looking back at the year that is ending, and Hopeful Beginnings as we look ahead and plan for the year to come. Sometimes resolutions seem silly — we probably won’t keep them anyway. But making a few New Year’s resolutions means thinking about the year to come — and what we’d like it (or us) to be like.
So as we begin 2016, we’d like to offer some suggestions for your college parenting year. Take a few minutes to read our suggestions from previous years at the end of this post as well. Our hope is to give you lots to think about — and then you choose what makes sense to you, or even better, make up your own.
This year, we’d like to suggest nine activities to undertake with your college student (or soon-to-be college student.) We do a lot of talking here at College Parent Central about communicating with your student. But communicating can sometimes more easily occur while you are doing something together. And doing something together often brings surprising discoveries (not to mention lots of fun) as you work or play together.
Consider some of these activities this year and see what happens.
Send your student a handwritten letter — We seldom do this these days. We have Skype and Facetime, text messages, social media and e-mail. Why bother writing a ”real” snail-mailed letter to your student? Writing a hand-written letter takes more time, and it makes us think differently than we do at the keyboard. Hand-written letters are often kept and treasured as important memories. What to say in your letter? That’s up to you. It can be serious or light. Let your thoughts lead you. We can almost guarantee that it will be meaningful to your student.
Volunteer for some community outreach with your student – Plan something for when your student will be home — break, a weekend, summer. Go together to help out somewhere and help others. You’ll feel good — and have fun working together.
Go on a field trip with your student — Go somewhere new together for a day, a weekend, or longer. But make sure that you plan this together. You each pick an activity to do together. Share your choice with each other and talk about why you chose this to do. What do you want the other person to experience?
Clean out the attic or basement together — OK, this may not sound like much fun. But the thing about some attics or basements is that they contain lots of treasures. Go through the old photographs, baby clothes and toys, family antiques together. Share the memories freely as you work together. You’ll end up with a lot more than a tidier attic!
Set up an old-fashioned jigsaw puzzle on a table — For many of us, there’s something compelling about a puzzle. We just can’t help but stop to fit in just-one-piece. And we chat while we work. Give a puzzle a chance to be a magnet.
Train together for a marathon — or just a 5K — Work together toward a common goal. Share your progress. If your student is away, train separately and share results and then go for a run together when he’s home. Cheer each other on. Be sure to choose a race to work toward — and then have fun together on race-day!
Attend a personal finance workshop together and then help your student plan a budget — We can all use a brush-up on personal finances, and working with your student to help him plan a budget gives you both an opportunity to talk about dreams and values as well as the realities of a potentially tight budget. And remember that most college students say they’d like to learn more about finances from their parents.
Learn some new technology — You and your student might choose to master something new together, or you might ask your student to teach you the tricks of the trade of something he understands but is new for you. Let your student be the teacher.
Plan a movie marathon — Plan a night of movies. You bring the one movie you love the most (the older the better) that you think your student should see — and ask your student to do the same. Talk about why you each chose that movie.
These activities may or may not be for you. But use this list to fuel your own imagination. As you resolve to make this a good year, plan some activities that will help you get to know your student ”in action.”
And don’t forget to look back at our earlier New Year’s Resolutions and suggestions and make it a good year.