There are countless guides for students who are setting off to university for the first time but what about us parents? For many of us, this is the first real taste of our offspring fleeing the nest and as parents, we’re between a rock and a hard place. We know our children think they are now big enough to manage without us in the real world – and if we admit it they probably are – but we still want to make sure that we get that last little bit of hands-on parenting in while we still can. They will probably roll their eyes at your fussing but if they’ve any sense they will humour us… who knows how long it’ll be before they make that first call home with the words: “Mu-umm, can you…?” You both know it’s going to happen!
Here are some practical tips to make the move easier. I can’t offer help on the emotional side though. Despite Ben being in his third year, I still miss him like crazy – though I do have to admit that it’s great to see all the years of parenting resulting in them grown and independent at last!
Get them to have a clear out
No, they don’t need to take their worldly goods and more with them. Now is the time for them to sort out what they do and don’t need once and for all. Then, when they’ve done the job once, it might be an idea to encourage them to do it again… just to be sure!
Check out the student digs…
If possible, visit your child’s student digs before it’s time for them to move in. Unfortunately Ben’s uni was too far for us to manage this but in hindsight I think it would have been invaluable to for all of us to know what to expect before moving in day. Knowing the location of their new digs can be extremely reassuring when your child is going to be living far from home especially if they are moving to an unfamiliar or distant area. Plus it’s handy to know just how much room they’ll have when it comes to moving in.
…and the local area
Finding out where the local shops, GP, hospital and dentist are probably aren’t high on their list of priorities but we’re parents and they’ll be glad they do know where they are when they need them.
Kit them out with the essentials
The digs should provide you with a list of things that are included such as kitchen equipment, kettles and so on, so this should help you avoid any unnecessary purchases. While we often automatically think of the bigger things we sometimes overlook smaller things like medical kits. A pack of headache tablets and indigestion meds can be a blessing after a hard night’s partying studying. You will also need to work out how you are going to transport everything to their new home. Can you cram everything into a car or, depending on how far their accommodation is, will you need to arrange short or long term van hire instead?
Sort out finances
Make sure your child has looked into all financial help that is available to them. Applications can take a while to process to ensure they don’t leave applying until the last minute.
Get them to do some last-minute cramming
Of the cooking, cleaning and budgeting kind. These are three essential life skills that will carry you through life regardless. And it’ll help mum sleep better if she knows her child knows them, even if they are preferring to call bacon sandwiches a healthy diet and they’ll only Skype when they are sure that the webcam won’t show their cluttered room (Ben!).
Do you have any tips for sending a child off to uni for the first time? We would love to hear them!