25 Things to Do With Your Teen Before They Leave Home

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: 25 Things to Do With Your Teen Before They Leave Home

With each passing day as my kids get closer to leaving for college, closer to living life on their own, closer to navigating this world without me, I can’t help but wonder if I’ve taught them well, if I’ve given them enough fond memories to carry in their back pocket and if I’ve loved them enough.

There’s so much I have yet to say, so much love I have yet to give and so many little lessons I want to pass along. Although this list isn’t all-encompassing (surely there’s more I could add), here are a few things I want to do with my kids before they leave home and my tender care – things perhaps other parents might want to do as well. 

25 Things to Do With Your Teen Before They Leave Home


#1 Go On a Road Trip

There’s a certain magic that happens when you’re with your teen in the car. Suddenly, their heart opens up and they begin sharing things they’ve never shared before. It’s where the best conversations happen. A road trip gives you both time to talk and listen, share and laugh, and experience something new together. Whether you go solo with one of your teens or take them all and have them take turns sitting in the front seat with you, grab those quiet moments to find out what’s truly in their heart.

#2 Take a Family Photo

Whether you grab your iPhone and start snapping a few candid, casual family shots or you hire a professional photographer and really do it right, take a moment to take a few family photos. Life changes dramatically when your kids move on to college or a life of their own – grab those pictures and memories while you can.

#3 Invite Their Childhood Friends (and Parents) Over for a BBQ/Potluck

Spend an afternoon reminiscing about old times with families and kids your children grew up with. Invite them over for a potluck, host a BBQ or meet up at a local burger place and share all the amazing memories that everyone holds dear to their heart. One day, all those kids will scatter and begin lives of their own and you’ll be longing for a houseful of kids and a pile of shoes by the back door.

#4 Loosen Your Grip

Soon enough your teen is going to be miles away from home living in a college dorm or an apartment and they won’t have you by their side guiding, redirecting and protecting them. Over the course of our kid’s teen years, we have to slowly loosen our grip and empower them with the tools to manage life on their own. We’ll be doing them a disservice if we don’t.

#5 Introduce Them to the Washing Machine (If You Haven’t Already)

If your teen doesn’t know where the laundry detergent goes in the washing machine, it’s probably time to teach them a few laundry basics. How to use the washing machine and dryer, how to get stains out and how to avoid shrinking all their clothes – they’ll thank you later.

#6 Teach Them How to Cook a Few Healthy Meals

My son is an absolute technological whiz (okay, maybe I am a little biased), but he couldn’t make a full healthy meal if his life depended on it. Rather than sending him out into the world clueless in the kitchen, the summer before he left for college, I helped him master five of his favorite meals. (At least that way I had the comfort of knowing he wouldn’t starve).

#7 Help Them Become Their Own Health Advocate

When teens turn 18, their healthcare essentially falls on their own shoulders. That’s why it’s so important to begin teaching them how to manage their own health long before they turn 18.

Start by teaching them how to talk to physicians directly – what questions to ask, how to clearly and concisely express their symptoms, what medicine they should take, side effects of prescription medicine, the ins and outs of insurance, and what action they should take if they don’t see an improvement in their symptoms.

Soon enough, you won’t be sitting next to your child in the exam room to speak on their behalf. Prepare them well so they have the confidence to manage their health and know what steps to take in a health emergency.

RELATED POST: Life Skills for Teens: 21 Things They Need to Know Before They Fly the Coop

#8 Relish in Those (Cheesy) Family Traditions

Carve a pumpkin as a family, go on your annual family camping trip, cut down a Christmas tree together, have a family baking day, have family pizza night every Sunday or celebrate the first day of summer by eating ice cream for dinner. Those (somewhat cheesy) family traditions you’ve created for your family are just the thing your teen needs to feel a sense of family togetherness and remind them of all their wonderful childhood memories before they leave the nest and venture into the next phase of their life.

#9 Go to An Amusement Park

Teenagers (most, anyway) love the thrill of a scary ride. If you can muster up the courage to take a seat beside them on a roller coaster, you’ll be making priceless memories your kids will never forget. It’s a great way to break free from the everyday stress of life, laugh and get silly with your kids – anyway, teenagers need that!

#10 Share a Few of Your Epic Fails

We all have them… epic fails we’d rather forget. But now is the time to share with your teen a few (maybe not all) of those crazy, stupid, immature mistakes you made when you were in college or starting out on your own. So, when your teen takes a few major “Ls” (losses) in college, at least they won’t feel quite so ridiculously stupid or alone and it will reinforce the idea that we all make mistakes. (Plus, that way they can blame it on the genes).

#11 Spend Time with Grandparents

If your children are blessed with having living grandparents, encourage your teen to spend as much time with them as possible. Even if grandpa tells the same story over and over again and grandma falls asleep mid-sentence, one day, when they’re gone, they’ll wish they’d spent a little more time appreciating the rich history, humor and wonder that grandparents offer.

#12 Break Out the Baby Photos

The closer our babies get to the door, the sappier moms get. It’s a fact. We start reminiscing about how our children used to wrap their tiny hand around our finger, how sweet their giggles were, and the silly expression on their face the first time they sucked on a lemon. Rather than keeping all those sappy memories to yourself, spend an evening with your teen and break out all the baby photos and videos – trust me, your teen will love it, too!

#13 Teach Them How to Really Clean

Considering the fact that most teenagers consider cleaning moving stuff to less obvious places like their closet or under their bed, now is a good time to teach your teen a few cleaning basics. How to dust, clean a sink, a toilet and a bathtub, and how to properly load a dishwasher are good places to start.

#14 How to Be a Wise Consumer

Pressure to purchase products, false advertising, fraud, complicated credit card contracts, fake businesses – there’s so much our teens need to learn before they leave the nest. Include your teen when you sign up for a credit card, alert them when you come across fake advertising or fraud. The more knowledgeable they become, the more they’ll learn to become wise consumers themselves.

#15 Teach Them About Nutrition, Exercise and the Importance of Well-Being

Now that your teen is about to venture out on their own, they’ll be calling the shots regarding what they eat, staying healthy, and how to manage stress. Teach your teen the “why” of choosing a healthy meal over burgers and fries every day, why exercise is so important (and how it can help them avoid the freshman 15), and how to manage their stress in a healthy way.

#16 A Few Important Money Management Tips

How to apply for a credit card (and a few tips about interest rates), how to save money, make a monthly budget, avoid overspending and shop for deals. Even a few money management tips will go a long way with a teenager who’s living life on their own for the first time.

#17 Go to an Outdoor Concert

Teenagers love music. In fact, it’s been said that our teen’s choice of music and their emotions are inextricably linked. Celebrate your teen’s passion for music by choosing a concert you and your teen would like (or, better yet, let them choose). Spend an evening in lawn chairs listening to their favorite band under the stars. It’s a great way to connect with your teen doing something they love!

#18 Volunteer Together

Before our teens leave home, it’s important to teach them that there’s a big world out there, that everything isn’t about them and their needs and wants, and that true pleasure comes from giving versus receiving.

Volunteer at a soup kitchen together, help the homeless, spend time building a home with Habitat for Humanity or an afternoon teaching senior citizens a few tips on how to use social media so they can stay in touch with their grandchildren. It does our teens good.

#19 Basic Car Maintenance

Most teens are on cloud nine when they get their driver’s license. But with the responsibility of driving also comes the responsibility of knowing a few things about basic car maintenance. Don’t send your teen into the world clueless about cars.

Teach them how to change a tire, how to check the oil and window washer fluid and how to recognize mechanical issues before they become a problem. There’s nothing worse than getting a call in the middle of the night from your teen in college who’s stranded on the side of the road because their car broke down.

#20 Foster an Appreciation for Cultural Activities

Whether you take them to the ballet, a play, the opera or an art museum, help your teen foster an appreciation for culture and the arts. It’s an opportunity to broaden their horizons and expose them to a world that’s a far cry from their typical favorite pastimes like hanging out with friends, going to the movies or playing laser tag.

#21 Help Them Sharpen Their Social Skills

Texting rather than in-person interaction and having the ability to connect and chat via social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok are making it far too easy for our kids to forego face-to-face interaction altogether. 

But, not only can our kids benefit from having a few important social and communication skills under their belt now, their future success in life largely depends on how well they harness those skills as they move into adulthood. Everything from their career to future relationships will be impacted by their social skills and their ability to effectively interact with others. Here are a few important social skills you need to teach your teen.

#22 Have Those Important Talks… Again

Chances are you’ve touched on important subjects with your teen including the danger of drinking excessively, drugs, sex and consent, driving while intoxicated or distracted, etc. But these important topics aren’t one-time conversations – they’re conversations that need to take place often and repeatedly throughout your child’s teen years to make sure they understand fully the danger, risk and consequences of any risky behavior.

#23 Remind Them to Foster Important Relationships

When your teen goes off to college (or starts a new life), they’ll be meeting a ton of new people – quite often people who will become lifelong friends. They’ll be caught up in their new world and although that’s a good thing, encourage them to not lose sight of the relationships they hold dear – family, friends, grandparents, etc. Life’s busyness has a way of derailing important relationships.

#24 Hug Them… A Lot

Hug ‘em a lot… in the morning, if they’ll let you. At night, if they’ll let you and even a few times throughout the day if they’re accepting. Soon enough, your arms will be longing for those hugs. Relish them while you can.

#25 Tell Them You Love Them

Of all the things to do with your teen before they leave home, this tops the list. Even if they don’t admit it or even realize it, they need to hear it. They love to hear it. Look them in the eye and tell them what they mean to you, tell them how much you cherish and adore them, tell them that no matter where this life of theirs takes them, they can always come home. Tell them, “I Love You.”

If you enjoyed, “25 Things to Do With Your Teen Before They Leave Home” you might also enjoy reading:

4 Things Teenagers Need Every Single Day

Why It’s So Important to Foster Your Teen’s Sense of Belonging

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shelby November 9, 2022 - 3:19 pm

Thank you so much for all of these great things to do with teenagers befor they leave the house.

Nancy Reynolds November 9, 2022 - 7:00 pm

I’m SO happy you found a few ideas that inspired you! ~ Nancy 🙂


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