10 Must-Do Activities for Your Summer Bucket List with Your College Student
It’s coming!! Our babies are finally coming home for the summer. And the summer is going to fly by, so let’s make plans to make it a summer to remember for both you and your college student.
From taking a family trip to experiencing something new, this post will highlight 10 must-do activities for your summer bucket list with your college student.
**By the way, these tips work for holiday breaks as well!
10 Must Do Activities to Connect with Your College Student this Summer
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Before You Make Your Plans to Connect with Your College Student
Before you make any plans with or for your college student, you need to loop them in. After all they are adults now and they need to be a part of the decisions about what is going on the summer bucket list. It does not do any good to plan activities if they cause tension between you and your college student. The activities below are 10 ideas. You don’t need to do them all and you can also come up with some of your own.
Start with Your Calendars
It is a good idea to discuss any summer plans with your college student before they come home. Ask them what they have on their calendar as can’t miss activities. Respect their plans if at all possible. Yes, sometimes you have to say, “Cousin Macy’s wedding is on a particular day and I am pretty much insisting that you be there.”
The sooner you give them any important dates for obligations (not the fun stuff), the better. They also need to know your expectation is that they will attend the wedding or the birthday party for your 90 year old aunt. After the obligations are out of the way, start planning the fun stuff!
#1 Must Do Activity for Connecting with Your College Student: Trips
A family vacation whether it is to a water park in the next town over or a multi-week trip to Europe are bonding and connecting events. Plan these for your college student’s first summers home. The older they and their siblings get, the harder it is going to be to get everyone together for a few days or a week in the summer.
Our kids are now 27, 24, and 22. Last summer we grabbed Grandpa, flew the kids who did not live close (along with a girlfriend), and hopped in the car for a few days in Nashville, where our oldest son lives. Ok, everyone who had not had COVID in the previous 3 months came home with Delta, but up until the first person went down, we had a lot of fun.
#2 Must Do Activity for Connecting with your College Student: Learn a New Skill
Learning a new skill or sport can be combined with the family trip. I had been to Nashville earlier in the year and saw a sign in the airport for Tee Line Curling. My husband was all over this idea and booked a group lesson for our gang. No one is particularly naturally gifted at curling so it made for a lot of laughs and gave us some good memories. My father-in-law even insisted he wanted to give it a try.
#3 Must Do Activity to Connect With Your College Student: Food
College students are often broke. Free food from mom and dad can be a great lure for family time. If they want to be with their friends, have the friends over and serve them dinner or snacks. One of the funniest, can’t stop laughing evenings of this year came when our daughter and one of her best friends from high school went out to dinner with us. You may hear some of the stories they never told you in high school.
#4 Must Do Activity to Connect with Your College Student: Listen
When they are ready to talk, DROP EVERYTHING. If no one’s life is at stake, stop right then and listen for as long as they feel like talking. Really learn what is on their heart and what they are thinking. Don’t judge. Don’t give advice unless asked. Just listen and get to know these people you reared as adults.
#5 Must Do Activity to Connect with your College Student: Do what THEY want to do
Do whatever it is they want to do. Saddle up beside them on the couch and watch what they are watching without asking what it is and telling them why you think it is really dumb. It may make you uncomfortable or cringe, but you can handle it. You are a grown up. You can watch things you don’t like.
If they like gaming, ask if you can play. I am really bad at something called, Nintendo Switch Mario Cart. It is basically driving a car through a track like games we used to play. My kids think it is very funny that mom cannot keep her car on the road.
#6 Must Do Activity to Connect with your College Students: Play Games
There are all sorts of games. There is driveway basketball, which my husband and the boys play in the driveway until someone is hurt or too mad to continue. We play “Jackbox” games on tv (on the clean setting). Quiplash is our favorite. These are super fun and keep everyone laughing.
Not everyone likes the same kind of games, so we all have to learn to compromise. 3 of us like board games. The other 2 do not. My oldest son and I like to work puzzles. The others do not.
It is a matter of picking different offerings at different times and rolling with it. (Like I said, I cannot keep my Mario Cart on the road, but I try!)
#7 Must Do Activity to Connect with Your College Students: Prizes
This past Christmas my husband and I went to a work party and played games. The hostess told me about the games they play with their adult children and grandchildren that include PRIZES. My husband and I decided we needed to seriously up our game.
We created a Christmas prize tree. The winner of any game got a punch on the Christmas prize tree. The prizes were a combination of “high value” items like gift cards and “lower value” items like candy, and a few gag gifts. It reminded me of my mother-in-law, who was always the best Easter Bunny. She put on an annual Easter egg hunt when our kids were little that included PRIZES. Everyone loves prizes!! No matter how old they are.
#8 Must Do Activity to Connect with your College Student: Create
Not everyone loves cooking or crafts, but if your student does, Go for it! Make an evening of it. If they want a friend or two there, that is awesome also. EMBRACE IT.
You buy the supplies or ingredients and everyone comes over for an evening of creativity. I am now one of the “older women” at church in a ministry where we host a group of younger women once a month. We have a craft night with them at least once per year. They love it. Those girls are someone’s adult children!! Choose simple crafts or recipes that can be made in a hour or two and leave room for visiting and snacking.
It could be a “let’s figure out grandma’s pie crust from the fading notes she wrote” night or an “I saw the cutest thing on Pinterest. Let’s see if we can make it” night. If you have a son who may not be as interested, offer to help them learn a few recipes to sustain themselves in their first apartment.
#9 Must Do Activity to Connect with your College Student: Mani/Pedis
I have tried to talk my boys into pedicures and have not gotten a taker yet. My husband has gotten pedicures with me, though, so there is hope. A nail salon is a great place to visit while having your feet pampered and your toes painted. One time I was trying to treat the adult child of a friend. I thought and thought about what she would actually want to do. I offered a pedicure! Even if you are somewhat alone in a strange city, sitting across from one of mom’s friends drinking coffee might not be that fun, but a relaxing spa treatment helps the conversation flow.
#10 Must Do Activity to Connect with your College Student: Go to them
Your child may be staying in their college town for the summer or has an internship somewhere beside their home town. GO TO THEM! I have told my kids they are like The Runaway Bunny in the book by Margaret Wise Brown. They cannot run and hide. I will find them and show up.
I am writing this post on my Nashville son’s couch. Of course, ASK before you come. That is how polite grown ups treat each other. You have to model the behavior you want to see in them. Let them show you around their town and their favorite restaurant. They can make the itinerary.
Bonus Must Do Activity to Connect with Your College Student: Be a refuge
Your home and presence should be a refuge for them. While they should never confuse your love for them with 100% absolute approval of anything they do, they still need you in their corner. Unless it is truly an intervention moment, Keep Your Mouth Shut and Welcome Mat Out as Jim Burns says in his book Doing Life With Your Adult Children. God is not done with them and as I learn every day, I really hope he is not done with me either.
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