Eighteen and a half years ago, we became an instant family when my twins wore born. Now, the reverse is inevitable as the empty nest looms ahead. In August, my twins will start college. We’ll fly as a family of four to St. Louis where we’ll move my daughter into her dorm at Washington University. Then, three of us will fly to Atlanta to move my son into his room at Emory University. Five days later, only two of us will return home. While this time is bittersweet for us, it’s also a time where strategic planning and preparation can remove some of the stress, and help us enjoy a special milestone. Although I’m a first timer, here are some tips that I’ve gathered from friends and family that have made this journey before me.
1. Book flights and hotels for move in and family weekends when you’re notified of the dates. The closer the hotel is to campus, the sooner it gets sold out.
2. Ship as much to campus as possible, but if there’s a big box store (Walmart, Kmart, Target) nearby, know that you can buy storage containers, rugs, and larger items when you determine what’s needed.
3. If your child will be coming home for school vacations, pack seasonally. If s/he comes home for Thanksgiving, for example, warm weather clothing can be swapped for cold weather clothing.
4. Do your homework: be equipped with your child’s dorm address, move in date and time, forbidden items and room dimensions, if available.
5. For spaces with an open closet, use an adjustable tension rod and curtain to cover the space.
6. Make the bed last. It’s the most convenient area to use as a loading dock and staging area, and you don’t want it to be filthy.
7. Be prepared with cleaning wipes, snacks, and basic tools.
8. Have your child sign a health care proxy. In the unfortunate event that there’s a medical emergency, you’ll be able to make decisions and get information. Your child should also have a health insurance card and know their medical record for walk in urgent care when sick.
9. Have a conversation about budget and finances prior to your child arriving on campus. You may want to set up a bank account, or have your child get a credit card if they don’t have one already.
10. Prepare for a quick goodbye, and save your tears for when you’re out of sight.