BTDT Moms’ Advice for Sending Kids to College
The mixture of pride, joy, and sadness is indescribable unless you’ve experienced it as a parent yourself when our kids come across a life-changing crossroads. These moments happen only a handful of times in our lifetime, and it’s almost impossible to think practical thoughts when we’re flooded by emotions.
Fortunately, we can learn from each other, use other parents’ words of wisdom as guidance in these life-altering moments, and help our kids make the most of this new chapter in their lives.
And while it may not become any easier with the second one leaving the nest, or the third or fourth, we will become better-equipped to handle the emotional roller-coaster and greet these times with grace.
Health comes first
While it’s no big deal if they don’t have their own package of throat pastilles (they can always ask their roommate), having a few basic meds on hand will be a lifesaver in those moments of intense cram sessions. So, monitor the checklist during the move, and you’ll sleep peacefully.
Another precaution parents can use is learning about the nearby local doctors that are trusted by other parents, just in case of an emergency when your kid truly gets sick and a basic ibuprofen cannot do the trick to ditch the fever.
Also, research the local pharmacies, especially the ones that are open 24/7, so that your kids have access to essentials for those night-long study sessions interrupted by flu.
The little things that matter
Computers have their own mood swings, especially when overwhelmed by information and millions of opened research tabs, and even the best of them can crash mid-paper writing. Enter flash drives (or better yet, two or three) to save the day and the data.
And what about laundry, or occasional repairs such as clogged drains? An emergency toolkit, a phone number of the local handyman and a cheat sheet on how to do each type of laundry can mean a world to them in their first months alone.
Back to our parental emotions, why not commemorate the occasion, as suggested by Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan, a New York-based mom, a businesswoman and co-founder of Grown and Flown. She recognizes that watches and jewelry make for a traditional gift, but you can choose anything that carries meaning and emotional value to you and your kids.
Plan for accommodation
One of the main concerns of every parent is where their kids will sleep and spend their days. As soon as your future college student has decided on their final college choice, it’s time to bring out your inner Sherlock Holmes and find the best, safest, most reasonable accommodation options for your child.
And as every diligent parent, I’ve done my research in hopes of finding reliable student accommodation in Brisbane, as well as nearby shops, pharmacies, libraries, buses, and cafes, just to make sure that everything is conveniently close.
As for your own trips and stays, if you plan to visit your kids for longer than a cup of coffee, it’s best to look for hotels close by and make reservations in advance – if you wait for too long, you might end up staying across town or in need to completely rearrange your visiting schedule, because other students’ parents will also swarm in at similar times.
Balance your inner caregiver
As parents, we tend to assume the role of constant fixers, who leap at the first S.O.S. signal from our kids, but they will need to learn to tackle them alone. Living in Chicago with his wife and three kids, dad, author and speaker Harlan Cohen explains that we need to take a step back, thus fostering independence our kids crave so much.
As he advises, ask them: What do you think you should do? Give them time to mull things over, weigh their options and prioritize. It’s a life-lesson they will be better off learning sooner rather than later, and college is a perfect playground for these profound moments of contemplation.
And while your kids are slowly grasping their new experience, you have the opportunity to tend to your own, probably long-neglected needs. Even before they officially fly the nest, take up a new hobby, a sport, find new opportunities to bond with your spouse, friends and loved ones. Life is far from over, and you’ll once again serve as a role model for your kids on how to handle these transitions when their time comes to shine as parents.