Capital Movers

Packing Your Kid for College: A Parent Survival Guide


The day that you’ve dreaded their entire life is finally here. Whether this is the first kid you’ve packed up and shipped off to college or the seventh, it doesn’t get any easier. You just start to get a realistic view of how many boxes of tissues you’re going to need.

As you pack them up, take them to their new school, and then return to your oh-so-empty nest, you may be inclined to drag out every step of the process with emotional fanfare, from venting your separation anxiety by buying them all new bedding, to calling every night to check if they’ve brushed their teeth, to leaving their room at home untouched and waiting eagerly for them to return. While you may think you’re handling things well, your young-adult child may think differently.

Concerned you’re not handling this well? Don’t fret. We’ve got a few tips to help you pack your kids for college and wave goodbye without losing quite all your dignity.

1. Don’t overpack

One of the most common mistakes that parents packing their kids for college are prone to make is overpacking. No, you will not need a dresser set, an ironing board, a microwave, a blender, a toaster, a minifridge, all four seasons worth of clothes in a variety of sizes, two crockpots, etc.… You just won’t need all of it. Period. Dorms are small and full of college students, so it’s best to save on space anywhere you can… and if your child really needs an ironing board that bad at some point, chances are someone else on their floor did. Ask around or buy later if you have to.

2. Do plan ahead

This, parents, is the place to channel all of your emotions: if you must. Not in the packing or the overbuying, but in the planning stage. Arrive early, know where the building and rooms are, bring maps, make sure everyone is fed and hydrated throughout the moving process. Bring water bottles, paper towels, and a first aid kit, even if your child insists they won’t need one. They will. Your kid will be too excited for details. Be in charge of the details.

3. Don’t linger

Remember in middle school, when you made your parents drop you off a block away from school because you were too embarrassed to be seen with them? Hang onto that feeling, whenever you’re tempted to go introduce yourself to all the other frantic freshmen and parents who are moving in at the same time as your child, or when you want to go eat in the dining hall with them when they want to eat with their new friends. This time is not about you, it’s about your baby adult taking their first steps into their new world. And they need to do that alone. So, do what you need to do—and then get the hell out of dodge.

4. Do get over it

Let’s be real here. No child wants to feel that your entire existence revolves around grieving that they no longer live at your home. This will leave them feeling confused and frustrated, and even struggling with feelings of guilt that they abandoned you like this. If they come home and you’ve built a small shrine under their picture, they may start to feel that they should never have left home at all—and no matter how much you miss them, you still want them to go out into the world and succeed.

So, take a deep breath, and remember that you got your life back when they left home. Think of the potential. What can you do now, that you couldn’t do before? Is it time to move to a new city, or redecorate their room into a model car workshop, or turn the back lawn into a garden? The possibilities are endless!

Need help taking your kid’s stuff to school? Or you’ve decided to downsize now that you no longer need all that extra space? Any way you slice it, if you’ve got stuff to move, Capital Movers is here to help. Give us a call today!

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