Thursday, August 18, 2016

3 Keys Thursday: 3 Keys (x2) to Sending Them Off to School

Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile
This is, as I might have mentioned once or twice before, my daughter's last full week at home before she officially becomes a college freshman. I promised myself I'd be at her disposal this week, so shopping lists have replaced my to-do list nearly every day this week...which is why I'm writing this post about six hours later than usual.

I've learned a few things this week, as well as being reminded often that organizing is a fluid process, one that doesn't always go according to plan. Here are a few of my lessons from this week of preparing to send my baby out into the world.

Make a list--early.
Last spring, I found a fantastic list of all the things (and then some) my daughter would need for school. It was a wonderful starting point, and I've been both adding to it and chipping away at it since sometime in May. Its sheer length inspired me to pick up extras of toiletries on each trip to Target so we didn't have to do a massive shopping spree when nerves were stretched and tempers were short. In addition, it nudged me to consider things I hadn't thought about and, now that many things have been crossed off, it's serving as the "last minute details" list.


Personalize it. In addition to the adding and chipping away we did on our own, we added things that my daughter wanted. I also sought out advice from those who'd done this already, specifically, what were the things they'd wished they'd had but didn't think of? This list included everything from tools to cold beverages and snacks to Amazon Prime, which will keep me from packing everything but the kitchen sink since whatever we forget will be just a few clicks away, and....

You will forget things. This one's for all of you perfectionists out there. Reduce your stress by making it your goal to forget as few things as possible rather than to forget nothing at all. If you haven't done this before, or haven't done this since your own college days, you will forget something. Aiming to do otherwise merely adds unnecessary stress to an already stressful situation. Why do you think the parents who've done this before recommend Amazon Prime?


Resign yourself to the fact that it won't go as planned. Beautiful, detailed plans can be tools, but they can also be recipes for disaster. This college thing is a big deal in your child's life, and probably yours as well. There will be days (weeks...) when your allegedly grown-up kid can't deal with the realities of this transition and/or she gets a better offer from one of those friends she's going to be saying goodbye to all too soon. When those days hit (and coincide with the days you planned to shop and reduce the to-do list), it's easy to get frustrated. One of you has to stay calm, and you've got a better shot at it than your child does.

Be flexible. Make lists and make plans, but expect them to change (see #4 above). In addition, be prepared to be flexible about who's in charge and let your child lead the way sometimes. This is their life they're preparing for, so let them own the preparations as much as possible. Not only is it good practice for what lies ahead, but sometimes, they have good ideas.


Make your relationship with your child the most important thing. When I stop to think about the fact that this is my last week with my child in this phase of our lives, I begin to dissolve into a puddle. Consequently, I don't think about that very much, but instead, focus on enjoying every moment she grants me. Long after these preparations are complete and your child is launched, he or she will remember how you handled these days. And, even if she doesn't, you owe it to your child--and yourself--to relish this time. No matter how challenging he or she may make it.

I know I still have a lot to learn, and I'm hoping that this time next year, I won't be undone by last minute orders and shopping trips, but somehow, I don't think that will be the case. As I read the posts of other parents who are traveling this same road, we all seem to be reminding ourselves (or are being reminded by someone else) that our children's readiness for this next step is a reflection of all that has come before.

And that's something to celebrate.


  1. We're packing off tomorrow. As a 6-time veteran of parenting through college move-ins (this will be #7) and a volunteer at Move-In Day alongside my son one year, may I just remind parents not to pack empty containers? You have no idea how many people I see pulling empty 3-drawer storage units out of their cars. Maximize the space, people!

    I wish your daughter all the best as she starts her life at college. I wish your family all the best as you begin to walk a new road.

    1. Thanks, Barb! Happy to report I'm NOT guilty of that!! At this point, we're not even sure there's floor space for a 3-drawer unit, so we're packing lidded plastic crates (full of things that could spill or drip, like toiletries) and soft sided stuff, like fabric underbed storage containers. Some of it may be making the trip home to take up residence in our basement, so I'm choosing carefully!

    2. Let Amazon Prime be your best friend here. Once you find what storage stuff she can fit in her space, order it and prime it right to her dorm :) Also, here are my best packing tips:

    3. Thanks! Loved your article!! I also discovered over the weekend that she can order some of that organizing stuff online through the bookstore and pick it up there. For now, we're using a variety of lidded and squishable containers, some of which are likely to come home with us.