Many of us are holding tight to these last few “official” days of summer. But we cannot ignore the looming arrival of the new school year, which for many means heading off to college!
Excitement and nervousness abound for these young adults heading off into the “realer” world of college. Not only do they need to be concerned with class schedules, on-campus jobs/internships, athletics and a social life…but for many this is the first truly independent leap of their lives. Which means for we the parents, this may be our first leap into an empty nest.
We are sending our one and only darling daughter off to Assumption College; move in day is August 25th and we are NOT ready! Yes, we have full confidence in our daughter being able to adjust to the increased independence and navigating her own college experience. She and her roommate have been coordinating communal room items; she’s wondering if she REALLY needs to pack clothes other than comfy sweats and the like; and she’s definitely hesitant about leaving behind her high school friends who have become family.
But as her mother, I feel that she is ready to spread the wings that we have helped her to grow and she will shine in her new environment. Mom and dad may be a different story. So, what can we do to ensure this transition is smooth for everyone?
- Have a move-in plan. Make sure your child is sorting and packing their stuff in advance. Remember that their freshman dorm room is going to be TINY and will likely be shared by at least one other person. Do they really need to take all 40 pairs of jeans or 35 sweatshirts? So long as they are not going to college clear across the country, there will be opportunities (parents’ weekend, homecoming) for your children to get additional items from home.
- Run through a few laundry lessons. Many children today are already prepared and have been doing their own laundry for a while now, BUT if your child is inexperienced, now this the time! Teach them to sort by colors (even just lights and darks), to remove EVERYTHING from their pockets and that folding as soon as the dryer cycle ends means you can skip ironing! And then make sure they have a dirty laundry bag/hamper and detergent.
- Send them with simple tool and first aid kits. The tool kit need only be a hammer, screwdriver (one with both a flat and Philips head), duct tape, and a small tape measure. These will make dorm life a little easier when decorating or building that shelf unit they order from Ikea. The first aid kit may actually be needed during their attempt to build the shelf unit from Ikea!
- Help your child familiarize themselves with their new town/city. A quick Google search of their new “home” can show them where the closest pharmacy, pizza delivery store, best cab companies to get them downtown, etc. We are setting up our daughter with our CVS app that allows her to use CVS-Pay for all her purchases without having to worry (or spending her own money!); and she’s already on our family Uber account in case she wants to dash about Worcester.
- On the tech front, make sure your child has a backup drive for their lap top and that they set it up to automatically back-up regularly. Have your son/daughter investigate their campus’ availability of printers…the college may have so many, that one in their dorm room is unnecessary.
- Let your child lead this transition. This is their moment and it’s important that they know that not only do they control the transition, but that you fully support them. Yes, this may be the hardest letting go of your “baby”, but that’s why we’ve worked, worried and taught them for all these years. Let your child establish a call schedule, do NOT inundate them with calls and texts every day. They need to establish their own schedule, meet new people, figure out how to navigate their new world and they don’t need the added worry of telling you EVERYTHING every day. But make sure they understand that anytime they call, you will answer.
- Send them mail. While they may not want to talk to you every single day, getting a letter, postcard or package in the real mail will mean the world to them.
- Bring tissues. You may be able to hold all the tears back until you drive off campus, but they will come. Do not be ashamed, you worked really hard to get your baby through to adulthood and you deserve to shed a few happy/sad tears! And then go do something fun! Celebrate your child’s accomplishment with a great dinner or day trip.
Sending your child off to college is a big deal and with a little planning, a few deep breathes and perhaps a cocktail after move-in day, you will get through it. Personally my plan is to join cross fit on August 28th…I mean with Emma gone, my household chores will be greatly reduced and it will be a great distraction! I also plan to get back to knitting…it gets cold up in Worcester!