How to Manage College Move In Day Like a Pro

We are in the final stretch to sending our teens to college. Many parents doing this sending for the first time are wondering if there is anything they MUST make sure to do? Here are the things your teen needs to DO, not buy, and you may want to review this off-to-college list as well.

College move in day tips from experienced parents

What to remember for move-in day:

1. It is not 1986, Amazon (or other online retailers) can cover anything we missed. Time to stop worrying about the logistics.

It is hard not to feel daunted by the astounding list of items a college freshman might need. It is all too easy to forget that our kids can order anything they need/forgot after they are already on campus.

NO DORM ROOM NEEDS TO BE PERFECT, particularly on Day 1. If your kid is resisting the shopping (boys!) or you are both a bit burned out with the details, don’t worry, order Amazon student prime for 6 free months (Note to self: cancel in 6 months) and get free shipping for anything they still need when they arrive on campus.

Most kids take too much stuff and end up bringing things home unused. They need a handful of essentials, their backpack, laptop, phone and any prescription meds. Truly, everything else they can get later. It is important to remember, deep down, that a lot of that fussing we are doing is just because the thought of letting go hurts.

2. Think through drop-off before the morning of.

I know that just thinking about drop off makes you either want to cry (leaving him!) or your head spin (how will we get it all there!!) but think, instead, of how you can make this a day that your family will remember and cherish forever.

We have not forgotten the day our own parents took us to college, if they did, and our kids may never forget this day. Think about a letter that says what you hope the impart. Think about the stupid utterances you do not want to make. But mostly think about how you will convey your love and caring and then send her on her way.

Most kids want to get on with meeting their roommates, hall mates, RAs and new friends, so make a plan that is more like a quick tug at a band-aid, than a long goodbye.

3. Spend as much time as a family as your teen will allow.

Many teens who are leaving home seem to think they need to spend every last-minute with their high school friends. While it is wonderful if they feel these connections, family is first. Cut some deals about when, how and where the family will spend time together. Plan some favorite/special meals, whatever those are for your family. Try to sit back, let the sadness and worry drift away for now, and make some mental pictures on these treasured evenings.

“Remember that they are excited, anxious and nervous about freshman year too. Be their calm. They will take their cues from you. If you don’t think they can handle being on their own, they won’t believe they can do it either,” says mom, Ginny Beene.

This is hard for us, but leaving everyone they have ever known and loved can be hard for our kids. Let them talk, just talk, if they will and express any concerns they might have. If they don’t mention it, experts suggest that one way to get this conversation going is to recall any challenges you might have had transitioning to college. Many kids think that every incoming freshman has it together and they are the only one worried/afraid/nervous. Let them know the are far from alone.

4. Let it Go

Messy room, disaster in the kitchen, late for curfew, again. This is the moment to remember that you raised a good kid. This is a kid who worked hard and got themselves into college. This is a kid who will be on their own in a matter of days that you can count. So let some of the stuff that we fought about all through high school go. Sure they need to still be respectful, kind, and work hard. But wet towels on the bathroom floor….let it go.

You Might Also Want to Read:

College Care Packages From Home – 50 Great Ideas

Family Weekend: Do’s and Don’ts of Visiting a Kid in College 

Flying to College: How to Save Money and Reduce Stress 

Photo credit: roanokecollege

About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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