Congratulations! You did it. You have raised an entire human being. You provided for them, fed them, clothed them, helped them manage their time and belongings plus you survived all of the many miscellaneous challenges of parenthood. But now it’s time to send them out into the world on their own. Are they ready to start living independently? Have they learned everything they need to learn before college about how to be an adult? After all of your minute teachings, does your kid know the basics?
When I graduated high school, my mom went into a little bit of a frenzy asking questions like these. I, her fist born of three, was about to launch. It seemed like everyday she would ask me things like, “Hey! Do you know how to [insert obvious basic skill here]?” This constant pestering made me laugh at first and then bordered on annoying. She was trying to impart valuable information and I was immediately ready to disregard her, even in moments where I wanted to ask a few more questions.
So, as you try and cram all of your worldly wisdom into just a few short months before you send your child into the world, think about not only what knowledge you want to impart but how you are going to get them to listen. With all of our tips today, we suggest you approach your young adult with excitement about their independence. Remind them that they get to do things their way now! Then, proceed to give them some systems to conduct things “their way”.
Whether your college student will have a full dorm meal plan with their school or not, before they leave home is a great time to talk to them about meal planning. Start the conversation on their level. Are they a picky eater? First empower them with the excitement that now they get to choose! “So are you excited to never have to endure my [insert their least favorite food here] again?” Maybe your joke will remind them of the family recipes they will miss. Take this opportunity to cook their favorite meals together! Make sure you give them the full experience. Together, check your pantry and make a grocery list, go shopping, then come home and cook. In their phone, have your teenager record family recipes and a list of things they know how to cook. This way, when they are hungry and that delivery pizza or Chinese takeout is calling their name, they just might go make dinner instead.
PRO TIP: If your student will have their own apartment, suggest that they try grocery delivery from apps like Instacart. Instead of clicking a button to get expensive take out delivered, they can get groceries. With the option to stand in their kitchen and look at what they have as they order, they can better manage their pantry and perhaps sheer laziness won’t prevail.
Laundry Know How
Don’t be shocked but not every college kid knows laundry basics. You know all those new clothes they begged you to buy for their freshman year of school? Don’t let them ruin them by not washing in cold water or separating out their whites. Like many kids today, your children may not have grown up doing their own laundry on a regular basis. Maybe now is the time to practice. Have them take a few notes on their phone of what to do and not do. Then, have them do their laundry for the next few months before they are off to school. Practice makes perfect.
PRO TIP: Buy your student pod laundry detergent. This will be much easier for them to transport, manage and store in a dorm.
Without a housekeeper (or mom and dad) to pick up the slack, college dorms and apartments can get a little crazy and those bad habits stick! You want your child to be the successful doctor, lawyer, or entrepreneur they want to be one day. They can’t do what they do best when their space isn’t functional. A disorganized space can truly be a distraction from their studies and goals. Just like the laundry, help them set up an organized system in their space that they can practice maintaining while they are still under your roof. We encourage our clients of all ages to do a simple a 10 minute tidy at the end of each day in their space. Tidying up their space shouldn’t be a multi-hour project they dread every few weeks. Everything should have a place where it belongs. Making sure each item gets to that place at the end of the day makes upkeep easy.
PRO TIP: At first, it can be difficult for a young person to see the benefits of an organized space. They may need some motivation to practice tidying up. Try to incentivize them with something they want for school. Maybe a small tv or mini-fridge for their dorm room or apartment!
Life after high school is a lot less structured. All of a sudden your student will be responsible for not only managing their studies but their work life balance with household tasks and social time. This freedom can be the most exciting thing for a young person leaving home. They may not even realize just how much freedom they will have and how much they will enjoy it. Remind them of this and emplore them to think about how they will keep themselves on schedule. Will they keep an organized calendar on their phone? What is the best alarm system for them? What kinds of activities are important that they want to make time for? Just getting their wheels turning on this topic can help prepare them for the big transition.
PRO TIP: Your student may or may not already have an online calendar they are using to keep track of all of their commitments. Start by sending them calendar invites for their family responsibilities like a family reunion, grandma’s birthday party or your day out at the amusement park. This will get them in the habit of using and depending on a reliable calendar that is in their pocket at all times. Try using Google Calendar which easily syncs with iCal.
Money Money Management
Having a conversation about money as your child leaves the nest is not always fun and may even seem unnecessary. No matter what your situation, have it anyway. You may think they know the basics but truthfully, basic personal finance doesn’t get covered in most schools. Does your child know how to build credit? Do they want to get a job while in school? Are they fully aware of how you (or they) are paying for school? Be honest about what role you will play and what role they will play in paying for their education. Have a clear plan. Even if you are taking on the financial responsibility and paying the bills, get them in on the loop knowing how it works and how much everything costs. Not only do situations change, this will help them make more informed decisions on how they spend their money and yours.
PRO TIP: Basic spending and credit trackers like Mint and Nerd Wallet can be a great way to help your child get a feel for what they spend their money on and how frequently. When they can see how much they spend they can start to make more conscious financial decisions, understand where their money goes and plan accordingly.
As a parent, you know what knowledge you want to impart but, let’s face it, sometimes those valuable gems of information just don’t sink in. Some lessons everyone must learn for themselves and others just need to come from an outside source to sink in. If you start to feel like your advice is simply bouncing off a very hard-headed young person, change strategies and invite team M2O to help your child pack. Sometimes the information can be better received from a knowledgeable slightly older peer and professional.
You can also refer them to our YouTube channel. We have created some awesome How To videos like, How 2 Get Out of the House More Quickly which can help them establish a morning routine and get to class on time. If they are moving into a small apartment or studio, they may want to watch How 2 Use One Room For Many Purposes which can help you both brainstorm how to make their tiny space a home. If you’re helping them pack and wondering how they will fit all of those graphic t-shirts they want in one drawer, make sure they checkout How 2 Fold and Store Clothing.
Whatever may be their challenge and yours, we wish you good luck! As stressful as this time may be, don’t forget to keep celebrating your accomplishment as a parent of getting them this far. Keep learning more organizing tips and tricks with us on M2O-TV and our other blog posts below.