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8 things to do with your high school daughter before she leaves for college
"I blinked and she is a junior in high school." Time moves so quickly, and before you know it, your little girl will be leaving for college. Don't despair, there is still time to create some amazing memories with her before the time comes. - photo by Liz Gerlach
We all know the things we need to do with our daughters to get them ready for college, and if you dont know, there is a lot of help available. However, what should you do to reconnect or stay connected before she takes off physically and emotionally?

1. Cook meals together

Try to cook meals consistently with her. Once a month (or more if possible), plan a meal together. Let your daughter decide what the menu will be and shop together for the ingredients. This way you know she is making something she will enjoy. Cooking provides a fun environment for everyone. Sometimes it is hard to communicate with daughters this age, and when you are in the kitchen, talk may come more freely as you are focusing on another task, not just the conversation.

2. Plan a trip

Pick a place that both your daughter and you would like to visit. This can be an elaborate trip or just a weekend getaway close to home. My daughter and I went to New York City for four days in the summer with my sister. We made memories to last a lifetime. However, I am just as anxious to do a close-to-home trip with her soon. It is not the destination that matters, it is the time spent planning, and then the actual trip. Decide on what activities you want to do together and any restaurants that you want to try.

3. Volunteer together

Many high school students need volunteer hours for their school or for clubs like NHS, Key Club or other service organizations. Why not do this together? The act of giving of yourself with no expectation of receiving anything in return can turn even the most moody teen into a talkative and happy one, if only for a little while. This usually provides another opportunity for conversation as the focus is on what you are doing and not on her. And lastly, and probably the most important outcome of volunteering, is that you are showing her the importance of giving her time to others in need.

4. Learn a new hobby or play a sport

Most high school students play a sport, dance, sing, act or cheer. Decide on a new activity you both would like to do, and pursue it together. Pick something that you and your daughter will have time for. Learning to play golf may be too time consuming, but taking a pottery class once a month may be just the right amount of time. Whatever you choose, have fun and enjoy discovering something new. You never know where it might lead.

5. Start shopping and planning for her college dorm

Buying all those items she will need for her dorm can become expensive, so start shopping early and spread out the expense. Shopping with my daughter has always been a fun bonding experience. Plan out what you need and then what you are going to look for on that day. Even if your daughter isnt going away to college, shop with her to redecorate her bedroom.

6. Plan for her to have girlfriends over for dinner a few nights

Decide on a menu together and who will do the cooking. Maybe you cook for the girls, or maybe she does. It could also be a group effort with all the girls creating the meal together, or even a potluck style with each friend bringing a favorite dish. Whatever it is you choose, use your good china, and spoil the girls a little. My son has a friend whose mom cooked dinner for all her sons friends before they left for college and every time they are all home on a break. They are now seniors in college and still love these get-togethers. She loves the time spent with them as much as they do.

7. Work on a memory book or a quilt

Work on a memory book or quilt. I have decided to make a quilt with all of the volleyball T-shirts my daughter has gotten over the years from tournaments, camps and high school. We as a family have great memories of her playing, and I thought this was a great way to preserve and save those memories. Look through old pictures together and create a book, as simple or as elaborate as the two of you decide. Taking a trip down memory lane is always a great bonding experience.

8. Most of all, love and support her

This is an exciting and scary time for her. Let her know how much she means to you and that you always have her back. Dont smother her, however. She may wonder what is going on and pull away. Attend as many events of her junior and senior year as you can. Time flies quickly, and you will miss watching her play her sport, sing, act, dance or participate in an art show. Even if it is a struggle to get there after work, do it. Attend her banquets, they really do mean a lot to her. When the day comes for her to start the next chapter of her life, know that you have created even more memories for your daughter to take with her.
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