Many of you are going to be sending a young adult off to college soon, and that means you’ve got some work to do. I mean beyond buying all of those dorm essentials — I hope that you have already started (But if you haven’t, I have some tips for you.)
Hopefully, your child is working this summer and saving money for incidentals so you don’t have to deal with too many “ask-adentals.” If your child doesn’t have a job, babysitting is always an option.
If you are still doing your child’s laundry, stop right now. Put down the basket and teach them the drill. Now is their time to learn to do laundry. It will be their problem if they have to wear the same underwear twice, or none at all, because they didn’t take care of business. I actually had a roommate ask to borrow my underwear because she “ran out.”
Try to get their heads out of their cellphones.
I think I drove my daughter Grace crazy reminding her not to look at her phone every waking moment. Of course it was annoying, but more than that, I wanted her to understand that she can’t walk around willy-nilly texting and reading on her phone. It takes her eyes off of her surroundings and makes her vulnerable, among other things.
Don’t make any more health appointments for them.
Make them do it themselves. They will have to be in control of their health while away, and they have to learn how to handle this. Grace had me setting up all kinds of appointments for her, and once I made them, she would tell me that they clashed with her work schedule. So I said, “Do it yourself.” And she has learned to navigate that, even when she had a dental emergency in California.
Make sure your child can cook something.
They may have a meal plan, but something could come up and they will actually need to cook. (I will have thoughts on this in a later column. I was just accused of not doing this. I disagree.)
There are the usual get-ready-for-college tasks.
You really should get to them now. But there is more: If they can take a car to college, get the parking permits early. Figure out where to rent text books. It’s a good idea to register for classes as early as possible and reach out to the new roommate as soon as your child finds out who it is.
Make a budget with your child.
If your child needs a lesson in finances, now is the time to go over this. These days our kids have Venmo and Cash App. I think they know how to pay for things. But do they know how stamps work?
Solidify travel plans.
If your student is going to school on the opposite coast, no worries. You can pull it off. Make sure you buy the plane ticket well in advance. Take advantage of the school’s dorm outfitting service in which you can buy the comforter and sheets and more and have it delivered to the dorm. All of the other items can be easily picked up at stores nearby.
Fit in family time.
Last but not least, this is the time to make sure you child gets in family time. If the grandparents are still around, make sure your child sees them before he or she leaves. Take a nice family outing. It may be the last time you all get together for a while. Have some good one-on-one time with your son or daughter. They might just surprise you and open up about their fears and anxieties over leaving home. Either way, lend an ear and open yours.
Most of all, good luck. You can do this.