You dream and plan for this day, but nothing truly prepares you to watch your baby bird jump off the nest and fly. As a parent, you imagine it to be a bonding experience, but the emotions and stress can run high. On the other hand, our children are excited and nervous to begin this new adventure. We as parents can be intentional and make college drop off day a lasting memorable moment for both parent and child. Here are some tips that worked for my family.
PLAN & PREPARE
- Plan the time to drop off your college student. Whether they are in the same city or moving to another town, take the time off from work or other responsibilities to assist on move in day. When both my children were moving in, I dedicated 2-3 days to help them move in and set up their dorms.
- Prepare the packing list. Your high school graduate will probably want to bring a lot, but college dorms are small. Normally they give you a bed, dresser, desk, and maybe some closet space. The basics like clothing, toiletries and school supplies are probably at the top of the list. Depending on if they will be on the meal plan will also determine the need for kitchen and grocery items. The fun part of having those few days to help them move in is you can go together and pick-up those last minute needed items.
- Move-in Day. Remember you are now their support system. Assist with the move in but allow your child to create their space. This is a time to step back and see what a great job that you did in preparing them. Watching them own this moment gave me some peace that they were more prepared than I thought.
- Survey the Land. You can go out into their new neighborhood and see what it offers. Look for the places they will need in their daily routine – bank, grocery or drug stores, urgent care, church, restaurants, movie theaters, parks. Learning what is in their college town also helps you start a list of favorite places to send them gift cards in that first care package from home.
- It is Ok to Cry – D-Day (Drop off day) has come, and it is now time to say goodbye. Do not be offended, but they are probably ready for you to go. (Try and remember yourself at this age.) You on the other hand, are full of emotions, concerns and are taking baby steps out the door. But it is best to plan this moment ahead in your mind and do it quickly. It never gets easy, trust me, I have done it twice.
- Embrace the “Me” Time. I know we never stop being a mom, even when they leave. But most of our training is over and we need to trust they got this. When you head back home, decide to do one thing for you that you have wanted to do – visit the spa, lunch with a friend, staycation at the beach. Whatever it is – give yourself some “Me” time and know that you have done a great job.
That first day you leave, part of your heart is staying on that college campus. Each day that passes gets a little easier. I asked my kids to call me each day, so I knew they were ok. Once I was able to see they were surviving, the calls slowed down to maybe once or twice a week. I just asked them to be patient with me. Instead of feeling that goodbye day as a loss, view it as a WIN! College drop off can be a memorable moment. Your child is setting out on that next chapter of becoming all that they were created to be!