We have had at least one son in college for the past ten years. All three of our sons went to the same university. It’s been fun – living college life vicariously – and it’s been worrisome and even frightening sometimes. We survived and thankfully they did too. Our job is to raise our sons and prepare them for a life on their own. College has always been part of that plan. We aren’t done. (Like you’re ever really done raising your children?!?). Our youngest starts law school this month so technically we’ve still got three years to go.
We are those parents who always move their kids to and from school. We have friends whose children magically move themselves in and out of apartments and houses. By themselves. Not us. We are now preparing for this last college move. Since my son is moving to Boston from Florida, this is a BIG move. We’re using our experience and being smart about this (if we can claim such a thing – after all, WE are still moving them!) Seriously, we are happy to help and happy being a part of their lives. Excitement and anticipation are part of the moves. We’ve even learned a few things along the way. . .
Give them YOUR old towels and sheets. Why should my sons get the new, good stuff? Why buy new towels for them when they will probably be used to wipe up who-knows-what and then thrown away because they are too gross to keep or even wash. I should have new towels and sheets – YOU should have new towels and sheets! (Insert Oprah saying EVERYONE gets new towels and sheets!) Give them your old ones from home. They will have that nice, homey feel and you get to go out and buy new for your home. If your son is in the dorm, you will have to get sheets for those crazy extra-long single beds. Other than maybe prisons, I think that dorms are the only place in the world where that size bed appears. Keep those sheets for the next child. Or give them to a friend who has a child moving to a dorm. They’re worthless (as bed sheets, anyway) once dorm living is over.
Believe your son. When he tells you he is never, ever going to iron anything, don’t pack an iron and ironing board so he will have it if he needs it. He really isn’t going to use it. Believe it.
Be realistic. Your son has a meal plan and you’ve discussed that he needs plates, bowls and silverware because he’s eating breakfast and snacks in his room. Okay. That’s good communication and it’s great to plan. Do not pack four place settings for him. Buy paper plates and disposable silverware. No one wants to wash dishes – especially in a dorm room’s bathroom sink. Let’s just hope he empties his garbage once in a while.
Less is more. Remember, we aren’t talking about girls. We are talking about boys. Boys are not decorating and coordinating fabrics. Boys aren’t coordinating much of anything – you will be lucky if he asks his roommate if he’s bringing any items to share (microwave, tv, video games). Keep the throw pillows and curtains at home. If they need a window covered, they proudly will tack up a college-themed blanket. There will be bar and sports accessories appearing later. They will become prized possessions. My oldest son still has his Monster cooler from college. He says he’s trying to get rid of it. I’m not so sure about that.
Don’t send anything from home that you want back. It just might not make it. Now if it’s your son’s possession and important to him. . . . that’s a different story. He will watch out for that and make sure it’s taken care of. Your blender? If it’s still around at the end of the school year, you probably don’t want it back. Trust me on this one. This also applies to most furniture and rugs used in dorms or apartments. Give them your old stuff. Think of it as one step above donating it to Goodwill.
Make a grocery or Costco run. Be considerate of limited space and roommates, but get him some drinks and snacks. It’s such a pain to haul heavy drinks from the grocery to the dorm. And everyone likes snacks. I made cookies to send with sons #1 and 2. I was thinking they would make friends easily with cookies to share. They did. Well, they made friends anyway. Who knows what really happened to those cookies. Son #3 wasn’t interested in having cookies around. He still made friends. Okay, so making cookies helped me take them to college. Don’t judge me.
Plan to leave a little cash. We never left campus without leaving a little spending money. It’s nice to have cash and what child is going to refuse money from mom and dad? We always make sure that our sons have a $100 bill for emergencies tucked away in their wallet. It’s not for fun and it’s certainly not for a beer run. It’s for emergencies. Uber and most electronic payments (venmo, paypal) weren’t around when we started sending our sons to college and so this was cab fare when driving wasn’t a good idea. The most recent emergency? My youngest wanted to drive home after a hurricane knocked out the power at his apartment. Of course he had no cash, no gas and no food. One gas station still was pumping gas and accepted cash only. He used his emergency $100 bill and was able to leave school and wait out the storm’s recovery aftermath at home. I recently started carrying an emergency bill in my pocketbook. So did my husband. He had to use it for gas money recently when all the card machines were down. I rarely have to replenish it. When I do it’s usually to replace one for my sons.
Don’t hang around. Unpack him, feed him (and his roommate if he’s around) and leave. It’s time. You’ve done your job and he’s ready for whatever college holds for him. He doesn’t want you to hang around and nobody wants strung-out goodbyes. It’s okay if you cry when you leave. That doesn’t mean you want him to get back in the car. We communicate with our kids like no other generation before us. You will probably text each other before you get home. It’s also okay if you cheer and high-five your spouse once you hit the highway. After all, that was the plan. ❤️