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It’s been just about a month since most college kids have headed off. And its just about the time for them to start missing home, if they haven’t already. I’m finding while the first month is hardest on the family left at home, the second is hardest on the one who left. What can you do to support your kid away from home? Here are some strategies my friends and I are finding successful.
How To Help Your Kid Transition in College
1. Send them an amazing memory. This summer my son got into hiking and had several gorgeous photos he took of 14’ers. I teamed up with Picture It On Canvas to turn one of those photos of Grey’s Peak into an amazing canvas art piece for his dorm room, earning me a “Mom, it’s AMAZING. Thank you so much” text. Any mom of an 18 year old knows, that is huge!
Not sure what to have put on canvas for your kiddo? Spend some time looking through his or her Instagram account. I love that they can import a picture directly from Instagram! I chose to have this mounted thin-bar on a 16*24 canvas. It is the perfect size for over most dorm style desks. The thin bar makes it light enough to hang with Command poster hanging strips which I left there on move in day. It totally makes that ugly brick wall disappear and brings back happy memories. Seriously, didn’t they do such a good job? Picture It On Canvas was so easy to work with and I highly recommend them.
2. Text often. Annoyingly so. I know it seems counter intuitive and chances are they won’t answer 75% of them but they read them. After the first week or so they stop being annoyed and it’s just like when they were home and you interjected thoughts all day long into their lives. Don’t make your texts sappy or sad. Just everyday things that are happening. Keep them connected to what’s happening at home. Our family plays Fantasy Football together (he can stream the Broncos over Verizon’s NFL app for free but you do want to up your data plan before they leave) . So we send “trash talk” texts all week to the cousins and all. It’s silly but its a reminder that they are still a part of the family. Showing them that you are fine also gives them permission to be OK too.
3. Care packages. Get creative and aim for at least one a week. I have heard of some kids getting 3-4 a day. That seems like overkill to me but that is OK, you do you. I’ll do once a week. Some favorite items my son and friends of ours are receiving/sending are gum, gatorade, chips, popcorn, cool duct tape, colored sharpies, case of toilet paper, and chocolate. Too busy or lazy to pack all this on your own (cause I totally am)? Amazon Prime Pantry is the biggest winner among my friends. For $4.99 you can ship up to 40 lbs of pantry staples. These love getting giant boxes. Hint: sunflower seeds make great filler items. Need even more ideas? I love this post on creative care packages or search “care package ideas” on Pinterest. Grandparents are great for helping you get this done. Ask them for help. Everyone involved will be happy.
4. Play games. Similar to Fantasy Football and the texts above, the boys have been using XBOX Live to keep in touch. At least once a week they have had a Madden showdown. It requires that they both have the same game DVD in their XBOX and a good w-ifi connection (this has been an issue on the college wi-fi and we will probably have to look into getting him a Verizon Jetpack). But it’s just like they are back playing in the living room together. If you have younger siblings at home, it may be worth sending the older one off with an XBOX as well. In our case, we have one in every room anyway since we use them to stream Netlflix and all that good stuff so sparing one wasn’t a big deal.
5. Most importantly. Just listen. When they call, resist the urge to give advice about everything or be judgmental about what they are doing. They have a lot to say and need someone to share it with. Talking helps them process it all. This is their time to figure things out on their own. Telling them what to do is the surest way to shut down communication. Trust me, I have a bloody tongue to prove this isn’t easy but it’s so worth it. I love hearing stories of what is going on and who is doing what.
Disclosure: Picture It On Canvas was lovely to work with and I thank them for providing the beautiful canvas photo free of charge. I am member of the Verizon social media team #VZWBuzz so I am lucky enough to be compensated for my time working with them.