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The college experience is a big deal for everyone in the family, it evokes change on every member of a household: the younger sibling who no longer shares the bathroom or has the comfort of knowing her sister is just in the next room at night; the dad who is used to catching the football games with his son; the mom who has devoted every ounce of her being to raising her child and micro-managing outfits, tasks, and chores.
But the overall college experience belongs to the student.
College Move-in day (and college in general) is not about you!
Here are some quick (self-learned) tips to make move-in day a positive experience for your child.
Know When to Impart Wisdom
Have that talk with your student before you leave for the dorm. Discussions about safe sex, alcohol, studying and expectations are not well received in the chaotic move-in time, nor should they be shared in front of the roommate. If you feel the need for one last lecture (and you probably will), keep it simple and state it before move-in day.
That mom: (while unpacking in front of the new roommate) "Get good grades and don't go sleeping around, and if you do, be sure you use condoms..."
Not That Mom: "You're prepared, I'm so excited for you!"
For years, your position has been the captain, but for this ship, your student needs room to make decisions.
Recognize Where You Are
You might be forking out a lot of money for the 11-by-16-foot shared space your college student and her roomie are soon to call home, but it’s important to recognize that this is one of the first steps your child will make towards their true independence. It is their home (away from home) now. For years, your position has been the captain, but for this ship, your student needs room to make decisions.
That Mom: Barks orders during unpacking in an attempt to keep things going the way you think they should.
Not That Mom: Offer one small tip and then says, “It’s your space, tell me where you want things and how I can help.” And, “I know we need to put your mattress pad on first so it has time to expand before we put the sheets on it, but this is your space, so you tell me what else you’d like me to do?” Where they keep their underwear and whether they tuck their sheets with hospital corners is now their discretion.
Keep a Hoola-hoop’s Distance From the Roommate
Whether the roommate is a life-long friend or a new introduction, your student determines what percentage of the life-story is shared. Make light, friendly conversation.
That Mom: Overshares or asks that the roommate to text/call/email you if she has any questions or concerns.
Not That Mom: Makes light conversation, and shares your phone number stating “for emergencies only.” It might be tempting to use the roommate as a spy or over-share in attempt to help your child make friends, but this isn’t third grade anymore, and your adult child will appreciate you butting out in this area.
Leaving them worrying about how mom is doing back home isn’t going to help them to focus on their new life.
Know When to Leave
Remember Kindergarten. How little B cried and cried and wouldn’t let go of your leg, and all of the teachers, the other parents and the parenting books you rented from the library told you to leave quickly.
It applies here too.
The long, dragged out good-bye isn’t necessary; you’ll see your baby again. And leaving them worrying about how mom is doing back home isn’t going to help them to focus on their new life. It’s also likely to embarrass them. Make it quick.
Select a simple phrase. “We’re only a phone call away,” a quick hug, and then head off. Don’t delay. This is their time to feel out campus and get adjusted before classes begin.
There are stories of moms who spend the first night in the dorm with their child. Do not be that mother.
That Mom: Sticks around at least long enough to tuck her college kid in bed. She wouldn't want to miss this opportunity.
Not That Mom: "You need some time to get acclimated, call me if you need anything."
Take a Glance Back
You’ve spent 18 years getting ready for this moment. The walk back to your car. That’s your Victory Walk. You’ve earned that glance — and a tear or two.