Is your teen heading off to college this year? College is a wonderful milestone for plenty of families, but it’s still a time where emotions run high.
When it comes to the big day, careful planning and plenty of preparation will be required to ensure they get off to the best start possible as your teen takes the first steps on the road to adulthood and independence. So read on for some top tips on how to make sure the college sendoff is as stress-free as possible.
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Packing and planning
It’s easy to fall into the trap of underestimating the amount of stuff your child is going to want to take with them, and it’s probably going to fill more than a suitcase! Having to repack on moving day because you don’t have enough space in the trunk can be a highly stressful experience and isn’t the best start to life away from home.
If your car is on the smaller side consider hiring a larger car or van. As you’ll probably be doing the trip more than once, look for providers that offer reward schemes whereby points can be traded for free rental days or look for discounts such as Avis coupon codes that can save you money on your overall rental costs.
Finally, plan your route carefully and fill up on gas or charge your car before hitting the road as services on the freeway can be more expensive.
Meal plans and food parcels
No one wants to be an overbearing parent, healthy eating is important. Your teen may seem like an adult but remember they’re still growing and developing.
Consider sending them off with a food parcel with non-perishable healthy food like canned fruit and vegetables. Canned soup and beans are also a great way of getting some nutrition into your child’s system.
You might want to give a few cookery lessons before they leave which can be a lovely bonding experience and teach them some new skills. You can always text them simple recipes or even purchase a student cookbook for some inspiration. A padlock for the cupboard or a mini-fridge for their dorm is often a good idea in case of dorm theft.
Keeping lines of communication open
You’ll need to make some decisions about your teen’s cell phone before they leave. Negotiate whether they’re going to be on a contract or a pay-as-you-go plan and most importantly who’s going to foot the bill!
Most colleges will typically have school-provided WiFi which extends to the dorm room which will keep costs down, but if financial management isn’t a strong point you may want to put a limit on how much can be spent per month, particularly if you’re paying the bill.
Once they’re at college, remember that your child is discovering new-found independence which needs to be respected. Do manage your expectations when it comes to communication and don’t be too hard on them if they don’t respond to every message in the family WhatsApp group!
Although you’ll be doing your best to hold it together, the likelihood of a few tears is inevitable, and that is absolutely fine. Your teen might cringe, and there’ll be a lot of things that you’ll want to say and that they’ll need to hear. Don’t leave this until the final goodbye; take some time out before they leave and let them know how proud you are of them.
Try and avoid a situation where your child is having to act as your emotional support- remember even if they don’t show it, it’s a highly emotional time for them too.
Keep reminding yourself that they will be back and if your child is worried about being away from home, you could always schedule a trip to visit them part way through the semester.
Look after yourself
Your teen leaving home can be far more impactful than you’d think. Give yourself permission to be sad about their departure. It’s okay to wallow for a little while but also have plenty of things lined up to look forward to or consider taking up a new pastime to take your mind off them for a little while.
Conversely, don’t feel guilty if you find yourself appreciating some of the plus sides of having a child at college. Marveling at the money you’re saving on food and bills or reveling in the joy of having a glass of wine on an evening knowing you’re not going to get a phone call asking for a ride doesn’t mean you don’t love and miss them!
Finally, remind yourself that they still need you and love you and you’ve helped them on their way to getting a college education. Take comfort in the fact that they’re about to experience what will probably be some of the best years of their life.
Now go and make yourself a coffee, safe in the knowledge that no one has drunk the last of the milk, and put the empty bottle back in the fridge!