Overcoming summer before college “last time” anxiety

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One phenomenon that you may experience during your child’s “last summer at home” is the dreaded “this is the last time” anxiety. I’ll just get it out there--I had it b-a-d.

In many ways, the summer before college brand of last time anxiety is way worse than the senior year last time anxiety. Why? Because that entire senior year you could always follow up your mental “This is the last time that …..” with a consolatory “But at least we have the summer.”

Now that senior year and high school are over, there is no more buffer. These really are the last times. I think it was that finality that made me so sad and wistful.

Are you suffering last time anxiety?

You’ll probably have a good idea that you’re suffering from this emotional pain if you find yourself often thinking “Oh man, this is the last time we’re going to go on summer vacation as a family” or “I guess we better make the most of this trip to the beach because it’s the last time.”

I get it. It’s real. And it can be tough. Many of you might have gotten a preview of last time anxiety during your child’s entire senior year. I definitely did. Our kids get senioritis, we get the last time blues. Think of all of those last times you just got through:

  • Last football games
  • Last band performance
  • Last cheerleading competition
  • Last exams
  • Last prom
  • Last homecoming
  • Last high school spring break
  • Last first day of school at home
  • Last everything

A great piece of advice I got from a dear friend whose oldest child had left for college the year prior was this:

“Don’t get hung up on the last time thing. You’ll miss all of the fun worrying about it being the last time.”

She was so right. Doesn’t mean I still didn’t lament all of those last times. But, it was good advice. The same goes for the summer before college.

Side note: When looking for an image for this post, I searched “sad goodbye” on the photo site I use. YIKES. I mean those pics were really, really sad. And some were super creepy, such as this one: WTH?

summer before college sadness
Too creepy!

Dealing with last time anxiety

First, realize that you are not alone. Far from it! One mom describes her experience here and it’s sooooo relatable.

Second, recognize it for what it is. One author aptly described the summer before college as the “summer of in-between”, which I think is spot-on.

Third, enjoy the summer. Do the things you always do, do some that you’ve never done, and make the most of the process of preparing for college (those checklists and to-do lists don’t have to be a chore).

enjoy summer before college

Look forward to the first times

Not to be a total cornball, but don’t forget that although there are plenty of last times coming at you, you have lots of amazing first times coming up as well:

  • First time your freshman texts you from college with news about the roomies
  • First time you hear from your child that he loves his psychology class
  • First time your child reports back that she has successfully cooked something in the dorm’s kitchen
  • First time you visit campus after move-in day and are guided by your proud campus resident
  • and a million more.....

It’s going to be a big year--hang in there.

Not having last-time anxiety at all? That’s cool, too...

You may be reading this thinking,

“What is she talking about? Am I supposed to be bummed out all summer because my kid is going to college? Because I’m not.”

You’re not alone! Stay tuned for a post coming up soon about varying summer before college mindsets...

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