Boy Moms: 10 Things You Need to Know Before College Drop Off

Congratulations! Your son will be headed to college soon and we get it — you are excited. We were in your shoes not that long ago and we remember it all. Sharing your Proud Mom news with family and friends, buying the first college t-shirt, signing up for Orientation – was all exhilarating and novel.

But my BTDT friends and I don’t want you to make the same mistakes we did. Especially those of you who’ve already sent a daughter off to college and are thinking you’re good to go.

 A collective group of Boy Moms is offering you this advice for you to read before your son’s college drop-off. 

10 tips for boy moms before your son's college drop off
Here are ways that parents of boys can prepare for drop-off and beyond.

10 tips before your son’s college drop off

1. Dorm Shopping

You’re probably itching to start the dorm shopping if you haven’t already begun prowling the Target aisles to find the perfect comforter/sheets/blanket/decorative throw pillow ensemble. Sloooow your roll, Mama. That’s not how this works. Do not waste your energy and your cash.
Boys are content with comfortable, and they don’t give a flip if their bedding is matchy-matchy or adheres to the Pantone Color of the Year proclamation. (Note, the 2021 colors are yellow and grey for 2021 so may your son might actually like one of the colors, this year!) The same goes for wall decorations — simplicity is your friend. Imagine Marie Kondo whispering in your ear….“Will it spark joy in your son’s life?” Or, will it solve a practical problem like holding up some baseball caps or sweatshirts? If no — put it back on that shelf and keep walking.

2. Laundry

However, every boy’s dorm room must contain these two products: Febreze Extra Strength Fabric Refresher and Downy Wrinkle Release Spray. No, I don’t work for either of the companies that make them but should have bought stock in both. Nonetheless, there will still be at least one text or frantic call early in the year about doing laundry, no matter if they’ve done it themselves at home or not. “This machine is really weird, Mom.”

3. Amazon Prime

Which leads to… if you haven’t already, join Amazon Prime. Now. Trust us.

And, if you want to get your teen their own account, here is where you can sign them up for a 6-month Amazon Prime trial that comes with lots of deals for registered college students.

4. Fall Break

When/if friends’ kids come home for a long weekend, be prepared for your son to stay put because he “just wants to sleep” for a few days. Oh, also, he probably didn’t even know it was a 3-day weekend.

5. Care Packages

Of course, you’ll want to (or feel pressure to) send your son a care package. We know the siren call of Pinterest with its barrage of beautiful images that gets Moms fired up to drive all over town and be a Care Package Baller. Sure, you could spend hours shopping for themed items to be packaged up with colorful tissue, ribbons, and stickers. Do this one time — if it truly makes you happy — then, you’re good.

Save further postage money for a happy hour out with friends to laugh and/or cry about missing (or not missing) your child. Most boys really only want three things anyway — cash, food, and caffeine. Venmo them money or mail a $20 bill or a couple of gift cards to their favorite food and coffee hangouts. You will be loved.

6. Social Media

Yes, you are loved, but you still may only hear about important events a week or more after the fact. The clarification here is that what is important to you, very likely isn’t so important to them. You may see pictures on social media from other parents and kids, of things that your son probably did, but you won’t know for certain. Practice your fake smile for when a fellow parent inquires how your son liked some event, and just say, “Looks like it was a great time.” (Then text your kid — but don’t expect a response for at least 48 hours.)

7. Late Night Text

But, you are guaranteed to get a text one night, probably around 2 or 3 am, like one of these:

  • “My face and ears really hurt, so yeah, I’m dying” …Reality: He has a sinus infection.
  • “I’ve got salmonella” … Reality: He threw up from too much beer and greasy pizza.
  • “Pretty sure I tore my ACL” … Reality: He’s sore from playing ultimate frisbee.

So, compose this message now and save it to the Notes on your phone so that you can easily text him back when you are half asleep and fumbling around in a darkened bedroom: So sorry to hear that! Drink some water and go to Student Health in the morning if you still feel bad. Love you! xo

8. After the Fact

The first time your son comes home for an extended break, probably Thanksgiving, be prepared to hear stories that will slightly terrify you, like the night your son was walking home alone and thought he was about to be abducted by five sketchy dudes in a truck who slowly followed him down an empty street. Some experiences you probably won’t hear about for years, and that’s for the best.

9. Calls

Calls will rarely be returned. Texts will sometimes be returned. Snapchats of your pet will be the only sure-fire way to get almost instant proof of life. Download the app and find a friendly 14-year-old to tutor you on its use if you are not already skilled. However, most returned Snaps will contain only a portion of your son’s face or the ceiling of his dorm room. It is what it is — he’s alive.

10. No News is Good News

For your sanity, and for those around you, start now, and continue repeating daily throughout their entire first year of school: No news is good news.

Adjusting your expectations is the key to surviving your son’s first year of college. Know that he loves you and will call you in the event of an actual emergency. Those truly don’t happen that often, so embrace his newfound freedom with positivity and pride. They’ve got this, and we’ve got your back, Mom.

*A special thanks to many friends who shared their wisdom about parenting boys at college across the U.S.

You Might Also Want to Read:

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About Marybeth Bock

Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing - as long as iced coffee is involved. You can find her work on numerous websites and in two books. Find her on Facebook and Instagram

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