It happened in a flash. That old cliche that “time flies” when you have kids is SO true and I’ve tried to deny it for all these years. It finally hit me a few weeks ago when we dropped our oldest daughter off at her college dorm. How did these eighteen years go by so quickly? I am still dealing with letting her go and missing her face every single day. We are lucky though she is not too far away that weekend visits are possible and thank goodness for FaceTime! But, even 4 weeks into the semester we’re still figuring out all the things that college students need day to day. We thought we had thought of everything, but with time and experience, we’re learning about a few things we missed on the college supply check list. With thanks to Office Depot® OfficeMax® as sponsors to this post and giveaway (all opinions 100% my own), here are some tips and advice on adjusting to the first year of college, for parents and students!
Create a Check-list
From my daughter’s senior year of high school-forward we were all about check-lists. SAT exams, AP tests, college application deadlines, financial aid, auditions dates and times, acceptance confirmations, housing down payments, etc.. it was a whirlwind of things to do. Graduation was here before we knew it and then the countdown to college and more check-lists were created. It’s an exciting time, but also very overwhelming. Office Depot® OfficeMax® has compiled a fabulous list of school gear needed to get started in the dorms, which is basically everything but the kitchen sink (and bedding)!
My daughter and I have always had a wonderful relationship. We are able to communicate well, and as we’re now adjusting to living apart and homesick for eachother, we’re so happy we’re both social media savvy. We make an effort to keep in touch daily via text, SnapChat, FaceTime and more! This helps her as well as her siblings and us parents feel connected to her new schedule and she can still feel a part of our home life that she misses. Discuss with your child what works best for you, it may be a phone call every day or once a week. Maybe you send a handwritten note and a care package once a month or if you’re close, plan to visit them in their new city twice a month.
Encourage, Support, Inspire
My daughter is very shy and this can be tough when you’re living in a dorm and on campus with thousands of other students in a new town. I have been encouraging her to make baby steps towards meeting new people and making new friends. This may mean having her open her dorm room door once in a while while she’s studying or relaxing in her room. An open door invites conversation. I encourage her to explore her campus so she’s aware of all the opportunities available to her as to support, health, social and career related events. I encourage her to speak up in class and with her professors if she’s confused about something or if she’s interested in trying something new.
I’ve already heard myself turn into my own mother. I know I’ve repeated myself a few times too many in these first few weeks, I do need to let her grow up on her own too. I will listen and support her as she navigates the world on her own. I will understand she may make some mistakes and will have to learn from them. I will promise not to say “I told you so” but will be there and love her through struggles. I’ve told her my stories of college, my husband’s stories, we want to inspire her to be the best she can be, to take risks and to enjoy life. She’s nearly an adult, she’s made so many smart choices to this point and hopefully the roots we’ve instilled will give her wings.
Keep a Planner
Another must-have for college and life is a daily planner and a calendar! These are on that Office Depot® OfficeMax® checklist above and you should have one of each. A desk or wall calendar can stay in your room/dorm and a the planner can travel with you, but the information should be duplicated. Taking a few minutes a day to jot down assignments, meetings, class events, work schedules, tests, bill due dates, and even when you have to make time to eat, nap, or shower is essential. I do this myself and it’s a life-saver and if they didn’t already, college students need to learn to budget their time. Being organized this way will teach you responsibility and ultimately professionalism.
Don’t Forget to Eat
This may sound silly but it happens. It still happens to me and I’m 20 years out of college! Schedules get busy, I know my daughter has class two days a week 9-3 with no breaks but you have to remember to eat. Even if you stayed up late the night before, set your alarm an extra hour early so you can get to the dining commons. Get your protein in, get some fruit on the plate, you need your brain and body to work. My daughter is a dance major and has 14 hours of exercise each week plus the 4 hours she teaches dance, her body needs fuel. Though she’s not a huge vegetable fan, I’m happy to know that there is a juice station in her dining hall that blends veggies into delicious smoothies that she’s been trying out. Take advantage of all the locations on campus you can use your meal card as well. There may be a cafe right next to your 11am class, grab a granola bar to get you through. My daughter mentioned the other day that she feels like a late night snack often and going to the dining hall in her PJ’s may not be the look she’s after. We’re still debating buying her an in-room microwave (Office Depot® OfficeMax® has those too) for that very reason, we just may surprise her if we hear her mention it again.
So far these things have gotten through this new experience. As a stay at home mom for the past 18 years, I couldn’t be prouder of my daughter as a college freshman and I hope she knows that. Ever wonder how your kids view you? These parents found out through this video and I’m giving you fair warning to go grab some tissues!