How to Enjoy the Summer Before Your Child Goes to College

For the momma who is tired after surviving high school graduation, I see you.

Numbering Our Days

I was bone weary as I settled in my favorite chair with a cup of coffee and my Bible. My thoughts shifted to the busy weeks surrounding high school graduation. The stress of the party, the endless activities, and juggling the rest of the family’s needs depleted my reserves.

While my heart brimmed with pride over my child’s achievements, I couldn’t keep this nagging melancholy at bay. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I thought about what was to come in August. How did we get here already? Didn’t she just finish eighth grade? How did the days click by without my awareness?

Thankfully, God’s Word addresses time often, including Psalm 90:12: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

God asks me – asks us – to number our days with our children. There isn’t an infinite amount. God nudges us to use time wisely. If you’re numbering the days before your child heads off to college or moves out of the house as an adult, you might find yourself wondering how to make the most of your days together.

Knowing When to Hold On and When to Let Go

After the graduation hoopla ends, we often feel sad. For several weeks, we had forged forth on adrenaline and determination but now the reality that this time with our child would end soon causes heartache. We jump ahead in our minds to college-move-in-day worries and completely miss the weeks we have left together.

God speaks clearly about the importance of time in Ecclesiastes 3:1-6: “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens. A time to search and a time to give up. A time to keep and a time to throw away.” (NLT) The Message version reads like this in verse 6, “There’s a right time to hold on, and another time to let go.”

The summer before your child leaves is a time to hold on, embrace, linger, and stick together. You don’t have to let go until the fall and that is a precious gift from God when a mom is fearful of a future without her child nearby.

3 Tips for Enjoying Time with Your Graduate Before College

1. Be mindful.

Stay present in the here and now instead of thinking ahead with sadness, worry, or fear. Don’t miss out on the beauty of today because you’re already dreading the sorrow of when your child leaves. When your mind seeks to race ahead, take those thoughts captive and remind yourself that your child is still here.

2. Join your child in his or her world.

Does your child like sports, art, music, creating, books, cars, cooking, or hiking? Move into your child’s world and participate in something that makes your child “hum.” You don’t necessarily have to love it yourself, but by doing it with your child you communicate just how much you value her or him. Go do something you’ve never done and create a lasting memory.

3. Process your feelings with God.

It’s normal to feel sorrow (or happiness, fear, and worry)  at the thought of your child leaving soon. Instead of making your child responsible for how you feel, you manage your emotions well through prayer, journaling, and reading the Word. Reassure your child that you’ll be fine when they’re gone. When you make God your refuge, it will teach your emerging adult to do the same.

The summer after your child graduates is a tender season, one that you’ll never have again. This is the time to hold on, momma. Letting go comes later.

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