12 Tips for College “Frosh Moms” Everywhere

Guide

Mar 16

Plenty of us send our kids off to college. Many of us lie and say it’s no big deal. Fact: It’s an adjustment. Your child must adjust. So do you. My son took 12 minutes to transition to college life. Me? Um, it was tougher than I anticipated. Yet, we still like each other (even after a summer together at home), so I can confidently share some tried-and-true advice for those heading into that rookie year.

  1. Don’t send white sheets, white towels or, really, anything white. What happens between the time you send your child off with pristine linens and when he arrives home is a mystery. Make it easy. Gray goes with everything.
  2. Save the drama for the ride home. I managed that last hug just fine but the “I love you guys” text received in the parking garage ruined me for days. Invisible tears are good.
  3. College kids creatively find solutions. Accept their system. Example: They had the ironing board and the iron, but were lacking one basic skill: how to iron. (Thought I’d covered that but who remembers details like life skills?) A special event and a botched attempt at pressing dress shirts prompted this response from my son’s roommate: “Don’t worry, Mrs. Redmond. We’ll just Google it.” Of course.
  4. Close your eyes. Once you leave that dorm room, return at your own risk. If you visit, ignore serious housekeeping lapses, and the fact that your child and his roommates constructed a Tiki hut in their living room.
  5. Invest in air freshener. What a bonanza for the inventor of this stuff! Febreeze is one of the first purchases college kids make. Dismiss the fact that they are planning not to follow basic hygiene principles.
  6. Learn to guess. Kids call their parents for four reasons. 1. They want assurance and/or advice. 2. They have bad news (grades). 3. They have good news (grades). 4. Money. All calls are made via cell phone while they’re breathlessly walking between classes in the wind, rain or during a tornado warning. You, Mom, are at the dentist. And you are expected to understand why they called. If you ask your child to repeat an indiscernible statement, he may say, “Mom, I’ve noticed you’re having trouble understanding me lately. Maybe you should get your hearing checked.”
  7. Text and Email. Texting and emailing are easy. While your child may still ignore you, it is less likely than with an actual voice call because two words–“I’m good”– can assure you that he still walks on the planet. However, if “various things you email me about” is the subject line of your child’s message, you may be overusing this communication tool.
  8. Kids travel. Be ready. You moved them to one campus, but they want to go to see friends somewhere else and they have a ride. And they’re over 18. Surprise! Or, the fraternity formal is 240 miles from campus! We weren’t ready for this one so figure out your family policy before you get blindsided. (Hint to parents: If you pay any bills, you have some control.)
  9. Beware of Facebook. The day my son included me among his 1,200 “friends” was a fine day, indeed. But when I commented on a post, I discovered that kids expect Mom to be publicly silent. There’s also a thing called “limited access.”
  10. Come up with a Bedbug Prevention Plan. My children call this the BPP, usually accompanied by an eye roll. Yes, I have been dubbed the most neurotic mom ever for my insistence that all clothing and dorm accessories be left in the garage and subsequently washed and dried with high heat, vacuumed and otherwise inspected. Hassle? Yes. The cost of peace of mind? Priceless.
  11. Learn to talk in your sleep. Though we requested that late-night phone calls be reserved for urgent situations, both “late-night” and “urgent” apparently were not clearly defined. If you are prone to have conversations and make travel arrangements with your child while you are in REM sleep, request clarification of all nocturnal conversations in writing.
  12. Wear your seat belt. Your child will sound horrible. He says he is sick. You worry about him, think he has certainly contracted Ebola and plan to contact the CDC. Twenty-four hours pass, you’ve lost sleep and he is MIA. Finally, you call to discover that he has a cold “but it isn’t that bad after all and there’s this great concert tonight in the quad. Talk to ya later, Mom.” Now breathe.