“Oh The Places You’ll Go!” This was a favorite story we read to the kids at bedtime. The fantastic and unrealistic situations throughout the pages fascinated them, and sent them off to their slumber believing that anything was possible. Throughout the years, that sense of possibility never faltered, and they always knew that the day would come where they would leave us and venture the world and its fantastic opportunities.
In my house, college for the second child is on the horizon and even though we love that he gets to do what he really wants to do and at the college that he loves, it tears through our hearts in the same way as if it were the first child leaving. It does not get any easier when your kid leaves for college, but creating a plan to ease the move will assure that the time you have left together will be cherished with great memories instead of a frantic rush to Walmart on the day of.
What Your Kids Should Take to College
IKEA Bags Hold A Multitude
IKEA zipped bags are an effective, yet inexpensive, alternative to bulky suitcases or carry-on bags. They hold a multitude of clothing, shoes, and are sturdy enough to carry the necessary items. These bags can be used during the semester, too: on weekends away with friends, lugging laundry, etc. There is a carrying handle as well as a way to secure it on their back to carry like a rucksack too. When your kids want to come home, they can easily shove all their laundry into it again and bring it back to you. ( Oh joy!) I bought four of these for $5 each online.
Invest in a Laptop
Invest in a laptop for your child to bring to classes. The universities will suggest that this is not absolutely necessary and that there are computers available for use in many of the labs that are dotted around the campuses. However, without a personal laptop to take notes in class or to easily turn in work, life may be a little more difficult. Gone are the days when kids used handwritten notes, and knowing my kids, if that were their only option, they would quite possibly lose them. Look for your college’s recommendations on what type of laptop to bring.
Don’t Buy Too Much Crap
Don’t buy too much crap. I see this a lot. Believe me, freshmen do not have room for all of the decoration ideas you have. A mattress cover, fresh sheets, pillows, a duvet, towels, shower caddy, a first aid kit, a small fan, and a few school supplies are all you need. If your child is a very tidy person and will not be sharing a room, I say go ahead and knock yourself out with all the latest from your favorite HGTV series.
However, if you find that you always need to remind your kid to clean his room and pick up after himself, he is not going to suddenly change this tendency in college. In fact, it will probably get a lot worse since you will not be there to remind him. Having extra pouf seating, string lights, and pillows galore will look great for your Insta pic. But all of that stuff will end up on the floor after the first night and will likely stay there unnoticed for the semester.
Load them up with a good water bottle. This is something that will come in very useful all day everyday. That is of course, if they can locate it under the ever-growing mound of clothes on the floor.
Snacks They Will Eat
Get them plenty of snacks. As parents we want our kids to eat healthy. However, if they haven’t started before this, they are not about to start now. Buy and provide the snacks you know they will eat. Otherwise the healthy stuff will be left for those furry friends that may not be so picky.
Wipes For Cleaning
Now and again your adult-child may feel the need to clean. If this happens, make sure to provide disinfectant wipes and put them where they can easily be found. This urge for cleanliness does not last long, so making sure the wipes are nearby will be half the battle in prodding this urge to fruition.
Stop crying. Be happy for them. Sure, it’s alright to have a tear in your eye, but please don’t guilt the kid for leaving. They will miss you. You will miss them. But get over it. If your child feels like they are your reason for living, and that without them, things will start to fall apart, the pressure will be too much. Instead, get a hobby. Go dancing; start traveling again. You are free to do those things. More time on your hands means more life to live. Your child will love the fact that you are embracing the change, just like they will be.
A change is as good as a rest, if not better. When your child leaves, a part of you will come home again. As parents, and particularly mothers, we empty our souls in some respects and feed to our children everything we feel they need: love, care, respect, advice, and direction. In doing so, we become vessels for them and fuel their journeys in any way we can, until they can at last fly alone in this world. For the first time, the mistakes they make will be theirs to make. The joys they experience will be theirs to share. Not ours.
But when they leave, they in turn enable us to recharge and unwittingly gift us the time to do that. Take it graciously and use it wisely. You are still a mother. You always will be. But you are becoming more than that, and regaining the strengths you had before you became a mother. You’ll be off to great places.