If you have college aged kids, mid August means navigating College Move In Day. If it were only about logistics, you know we’d be fine, getting the job done like the awesome Moms we are. But it’s the part about letting go a piece of your heart that makes for all kinds of chaos, tears, extra long hugs, and yes, that edginess and silence that comes with knowing you are walking through a HUGE moment in your family’s life.
With two kids in college, I can promise you that just like every other stage of mothering, loading your child up to head back to campus, while still hard, gets easier in different ways the more often you do it. Saying goodbye till next time is never easy, but you and your child will have experience under both your belts; and you’ll know what to expect as they continue to set up their lives away from home and that you’ll see them soon. But freshman year is full of new things and thus is a blur of activity and emotion that will take you by storm.
Knowing what you can, and can’t, bring to campus is king; so after consulting your child’s college housing site, be sure to pick up a copy of our GO MOM!® College Packing List found in the BRAND NEW College Mom Bundle. It’s full of all the things you need to rule in or rule out for your student. It also includes Move-In Day must haves. Check it out now…and then come back and read these tips…
For me, big life events equal organizing ALL the things, today I’ve got a post to help you plan ahead for College Move In Day. I wrote down my best tips so that when it comes to logistics, you are prepared as best you can and can give your heart room to do your Mom thing.
Bring cleaning supplies, a broom, and a vacuum.
While there’s a great chance your child’s college has adequately cleaned dorm rooms, there’s an even better chance you won’t find it clean enough. Don’t let this upset you but instead, let your student know that depending on the state of things, the first order of business may be to give the place a good scrub down just in case. Consider it a great way to break in those dorm room cleaning supplies, broom, and vacuum you’ll be leaving behind anyway.
Bring a dolly and bungee cords.
Many hands make light work and if you are lucky, you may have upper class men helping your family unload your child’s things. When it comes to multiple trips from your car to the dorm and back, the fewer trips you have to make the better. That’s why bringing your own dolly and bungee cords are key for your college move in day success. Make sure you have a dolly that can extend horizontally, allowing you to take multiple items at a time. It’s handy to have bungee cords in a variety of sizes so that you can secure the items on the dolly, making for uneventful transport. I promise you this may be the best investment you make to minimize logistical stress on such an emotional day.
Bring your tool kit, scissors, and a tape measure.
Because there will always be things that need adjusting, make sure you’ve got a small tool kit with scissors and a tape measure handy so that you can do just that. Think things like raising or lower your student’s bed, opening boxes that may have duct tape on them, measuring walls so you can place items decoratively, using the adhesive methods your university approves. Of course much of this is child specific, some wanting to have the place all set and others wanting Mom and Dad to head out ASAP. That’s why these same items are also listed in our Don’t Forget section of the College Packing List. Leave them prepared to do what they wish ~ it’s what this stage is all about anyway.
You can find our FREE GO MOM!® College Packing Checklist in the Free Printables Section of our Printables Store. I think you’ll find it to be just the ticket to helping outsmart the college packing chaos as you get your student ready for an amazing fall.
Bring coupons because you will have to shop.
Even with our rockstar College Packing List in hand, I can promise you that inevitably, you’ll find yourself running to the store for something on college move in day. It may be dorm room snacks, more hangers, an extra pair of socks, a different set of towels, or a quick stop at the campus bookstore, but I promise you, you’ll be shopping for something no matter how much you planned ahead. Bring your coupons, because by this time you’ll also find you’ll feel like you’ve spent ALL the money and full tuition hasn’t even been paid. Bring coupons for room and other supplies, coupons for the snack foods your student will want that you didn’t want to take up precious cargo space in your car for, and the list goes on. Just know that you’ll regret not saving what you can when you are buying last minute things on the fly. I’m just speaking from experience here ~ I promise you there will be at least one thing you’ll need to buy so cover your bases and save money if you can.
Bring your camera, fully charged with an extra memory card.
Nothing worse than wanting to take pictures and videos and finding out you’ve run out of memory and you devices aren’t charged. Because you’ll likely have to snag pictures as you go, some with a more willing child than others, make sure you’ve got all your devices charged, media downloaded for plenty of storage, and ready to go. Bring portable chargers so you can make sure your battery doesn’t fail you and having an extra memory card on hand never hurt anyone. And while you will likely use your phone, having a back up camera just in case is always helpful too.
Perhaps the most important reminder on this one is to live in the moment. That means you don’t need to take pictures all day. In fact your child will likely be mortified if you do. Yes, you want a handful of pictures to remember this day but stay focused on what’s right in front of you without looking through your lens. You’ll want to breathe in every last minute I promise.
Bring a small cooler with snacks and bottled waters.
Just like any other moving day, college move in day won’t be fun if your people are hungry and thirsty while they are hot and dirty. A small cooler in your car with family favorite snacks and cold bottled waters will go a long way for keeping the peace. Make sure you’ve included healthy options that are protein based and leave the sweets for dessert later that night at dinner to celebrate.
Pack a change of clothes for everyone.
Dorm drop off is hard work. With limited time to empty your vehicle ~ you may only be allowed to pull up one ~ and get everything up to your child’s room, you’ll be lifting, walking, taking stairs, and sweating, a lot. So save the cute outfits for later and come dressed to move just like any other time you’ve packed up to start a new life. And if you have to clean (see above) you’ll be glad you came dressed for the job.
Write a note to your child to leave behind under a pillow.
For most Moms, the hardest part of college move in day is leaving your child when the work is done. The early part of the day is full of excitement, you’ve got a schedule to follow and the fun work of setting up the dorm room, meeting the other kids on the floor, and exploring campus while you tie up those loose ends. But it’s knowing when to leave that can be the hardest to plan for because – let’s face it, you won’t want to.
No matter how much you prepare for this day, you will want to stay something fierce. But you can’t. So instead of putting all that pressure on yourself to say the right thing, leave that last hug with the right amount of love, advice, encouragement, and more, take some time BEFORE college move in day to write that note. The mixed emotions you’ll all feel when you finally leave will make it hard to do more than keep the hugs tight and the mood light. Leaving those words of wisdom and love in a card they will not expect is something they will cherish and be able to hold close all year long.
While as a Mom you may have been equal parts dreading and excited for this day, your child is a bundle of his or her own emotions; and that’s what matters most. While this may feel like it’s all about you letting go, managing that feeling that your heart got ripped out of your chest, accepting all the unknowns of not being able to be part of your child’s days, and more; its so completely NOT about you Mom. This day, this launching pad, this start to a wonderful new adventure is your’s child’s moment. So step back and let them have it. Keep the tears, while they are okay, in check. Keep the stress, while logical, in check. Keep the mood, while your’s may be overwhelming, light. You are moving into a season where you won’t see your child for days on end. So make the days you have with him HAPPY.
And there you have it ~ my College Move In Day Tips for Moms. I hope it gave you a snapshot of those things you might not realize are going to matter most on this first of many adult days for your precious child. I am so excited for you to walk through these next four years, coaching your child from afar, partnering with them and seeing the amazing young person you’ve spent the past 18 years raising. You’ve done a great job Mom! It’s not over, just changing, and if there’s one thing we both know, the best has yet to come.
This college journey begins sooner than we think and is over before we know it, launching both students and families into an entirely new partnership. After you download the GO MOM!® College Mom Bundle – college applications, financial aid, packing checklists, record keeping and so much more will be streamlined into one central location giving you a road map to success. Get your copy today!
Thanks so much for stopping by ~ we’ll see you next time!
Here’s some more info to help you through this life changing time: