So, you have put in the work and supported your teen from tee ball to club soccer to middle school and made it across the finish line of high school graduation. So you're done now, right? Nope. Not by a long shot. Now your teen is going to prepare for college, post secondary schooling or even just moving out. And they still need your help. And, if you're anything like we are, that's just fine by you!
There is a very real and very emotional transition that occurs when your baby son or daughter of 18 is now ready to transition to their next phase of life and the more you plan for this, the more memorable it will be for you. So, how to prepare for the big move-out? Here is a checklist of tips we came up with of considerations you will do well to keep in mind when packing your adult teen for college or whatever else comes next for them:
1. Make a list & re-check it regularly.
When planning and buying the items that will come along with you or your adult teen to college, don’t just rely on impulse decisions on what should and shouldn’t go. This will NOT be easy as the euphoria that comes with this transition can be overwhelming for you AND your kiddo. Before you find yourself being pulled by the gravitational pull of the college aisle of the major box stores, make a thorough list of what items the student needs, what items the student already has and what the student needs to buy. If you're a lover of spreadsheets, chart those three categories out and actually make a bit of a budget. You want to go into this with your eyes wide open!
You know too, many colleges and universities publish lists like these on their websites or with move-in day materials. Seek this out and use this list as a baseline: cross out what you might not need and add what you will. If you want your own list, make sure that all the required items of the college’s list are present.
2. Don’t overdo-it. (aka- Easy there, Turbo!)
Browsing the aisles of [Insert Store Name Here] with a double-wide cart of dorm room goodies (or doing the same virtually on with your Amazon Prime account et al), it can be all too tempting for you and your student. You may just find yourselves buying an insanely exorbitant amount of stuff, much of which your adult teen likely won't even need.
The cause of this is two-fold. First off, the stuff that might seem necessary, fun or super cool in the moment may not be so thought of with the benefit of hindsight. Secondly, in an effort to mentally delay coming to terms with the thought of your child leaving 'the nest,' you probably want to avoid inadvertently duplicating your home, with all the creature comforts, at college. Your student, of course, may find themself trying to do the same. While the intention surely is born from a place of comfort and love, this practice is by no means practical. Dorms are smaller, not to mention shared with people that weren't raised in your loving home.
3. Don’t under-do-it.
This is different from forgetting things from your list (as in point one above). This is the situation where you go so far away from point two that your adult teen's dorm begins to look less like a room and more like a holding cell at the local jail, which is a place that you NEVER want them to actually visit! Like it or not, this is going to be your kiddo’s new home more than any other place over the next year and it should feel like one.
Whether this means giving the room some suitable, team curated personality, complete with colorful block letters and sparkling, sequin-spotted photo frames like some dorms we’ve seen, or simply laying out a few pictures and some familiar objects to give it a personal flavor, this is an invaluable step toward making the major transition from high school to college or apartment life a little easier for all involved. Grab some time with your adult teen to pick out a few (preferably small) things that mean a lot to you or your student and find a place for them. These little things can make a big difference on a rainy, homesick day and will likely come to symbolize something nostalgic to your kiddos over time.
4. Focus on the bare necessities.
When your attention is on all the fun new things that you get to buy and bring to your new student's new abode, it’s no wonder college-supplied move-in lists are chalk-full of warnings of commonly-forgotten, show-stopper items that are too often overlooked. Pillowcases, for example, or laundry detergent to name a couple.
Band-aids, Ibuprofen and even a sewing kit can fall through the cracks when everyone’s bigger concern is the now-famous “mini-fridge” or by the cup coffee maker even.
During the wee hours of the morning during finals week when your calculator’s batteries die during your late night cram session, that tiny Phillips-head screwdriver is going to fall like manna from Heaven on your desk and keep you from tossing said mini-fridge our the window to its untimely demise six floors below. When a loose button jumps ship of your nicest blouse or khaki dockers the day of an interview for that internship you're dying to get, that sewing needle and thread will be more valuable than all of the gold at Fort Knox..
5. Choose a style set; Choose a theme.
Like us, you may not an accomplished interior designer and a college dorm is certainly not the pinnacle of that profession to begin with but, when objects and compliments in a space at least look alike (or even just similarly!) and, more importantly, seem to belong with each-other, it can make a space cleaner, sleeker, and more comfortable to be in. We're not suggesting you aim to end up in the annals of college dorm or apartment Better Homes and Gardens, but, when your adult teen's hot pink desk lamp and green camouflage pencil box are at odds with each-other, you’ll know what we mean and you’ll want to make a change.
In today’s world of countless styles, colors and sizes of, well, EVERYTHING available online, each available in-store, online or in-store pickup in all 256 colors, this is easier than its ever been previously.
6. Plan ahead for any higher-dollar items.
Weeks before move-in day, have your adult teen contact their roommate(s) and decide on who will bring and who will buy large, pricey items like televisions or small appliances like vacuums, irons, or the aforementioned mini-fridge. If the roommate(s) all agree they are necessary, plan ahead for how they will physically get into your dorm room and how they will be paid for and shared after the fact.
So, hopefully this sanity check helps alleviate some of the obvious emotions you will be wading through currently on the threshold of this big transition for you and your family. These tips have helped us through our adult teen and student transitions from the nest to flight and we would love to hear how they may help you as well. Now, of course, no list can eliminate the anxiety over a new environment, the homesickness or the distance itself but, being as prepared as you can be in these key areas will leave less band-width for stress over what your adult teen may have forgot and more time for making new friends, having new experiences and generating eliminating some of the anxiety and sadness that can come with crossing the precipice of living at home and into adulthood!
And, you know, we would tell you to enjoy having less laundry to do now but, who knows... you may receive periodic visits from your adult teen, as well as their laundry if they aren't too far away but, hey, at least that means they'll still be home with you for a bit, hopefully sharing their experiences as you creates new bonds and memories along the way!