It is that time of the year when your child is graduating to move up the ladder to higher education. Your child going to a university far from home may seem daunting but a proud moment as well. Parents around this time frantically ask around or look on the internet on the do’s and don’ts of universities.
What should we do? Is this university right for our child? What necessities will they need?
Hold on! Calm down there for a minute.
Being parents of university students is no different from high school students. However, you as parents need to help your child plan their move practically and not emotionally.
This article will help you or rather put forward a few pointers for all the parents of university students.
Research and Plan in advance
Firstly, I understand as parents, you will worry about your child. You will want to move with them as well, to take care and be available for your child 24/7. But this is the time you let them grow into responsible and independent adults.
The first thing as new parents of university students, sit down with your child and plan and jot down every small detail that your child needs or has to do. Be it making a list of all the necessary items to pack or researching on renting accommodation or applying for student medical insurance.
One advice to keep in mind for parents is that do not force things down upon your child. Let them decide on the important things they would like to pack and do. Since this is the first time your child is moving out of their home, they would like to decorate it in a certain way.
As a parent, you would want to pack every little thing for them. Be it food items, crockery, linen, furniture, decorative items. Talk and discuss as to what they would like to take with them. For example, it is very important to pack them a first-aid kit with all the medicines necessary just in case of an emergency.
Find the right accommodation
Finding the right accommodation can be quite stressful. There is so much to look into before settling for the right accommodation. There are usually different types of student accommodation available, that it gets hard to choose from. Such as private flat or home share, university dormitory, and home-stays. Find out about student accommodation that is within their budget.
Do thorough research about their accommodation and keep a check on what all is nearby. Having grocery stores or a pharmacy close by can be very useful and helpful. Do not get a place far from the university as it might get very difficult for your child to travel and reach for university classes on time.
If they plan to rent a private apartment, make sure to receive a formal contract before making a deposit. Run a check on the owners as well.
Teach the basics
After you have checked off the important list, as parents you need to teach your child the basics. Since this is the first time your child is living separately from you, there is a lot to learn before they move out. Being parents of university students, you are going to be paranoid about a lot of things. Be it managing money, paying bills, cooking and living under a roof with strangers.
Thus, teach them a few easy yet budget-friendly meals to cook in order to avoid eating out too much. Simple recipes like homemade soup, shepherd’s pie, or easy to make sandwiches. Pack a few cookbooks for them to be able to cook easily or write them a few recipes of your own. Even though you are video call away to tell them if they get stuck but recipes from you will give them a little touch of home.
Also, teach them how to do their own laundry since you were doing it for them all this while. Explain how colored and white clothes are washed separately, which detergent is best to use and that comes within their budget. How to use the dryer or simply air-dry the clothes.
It is very important to teach them how to manage money and stick to a budget. This can be very difficult for university students as they free to do what they want. They might not realize how important it is to save money and not overspend it. Talk with them about their everyday expenses such as electricity and water bills, wifi cost, and student travel cards. It also depends on how responsible you think your child is.
There will be days when your child might run out of money, this is where you make a call or help them out to decide. Either make a separate emergency account for them without their knowledge or advise him/her to look for a part-time job. This will help them to learn and manage money in a better way and make them independent as well.
Give them space
Once your child has entered into their new phase of life and leaving you behind, give them space. Resist the urge to call them up constantly and keeping track of them. Even with the onset of video calls and Skype, do not take advantage of it and call your child after every few hours. This will distance you from your child and leave them dependent on you for life.
On the other hand, if your child feels homesick, do not get emotional about it, instead, help them to stay upbeat and motivate them to enjoy this new phase of their life. Remind them of how your university days were and what all did you do to cope with homesickness.
Support them through it all
Many parents of university students fret over the thought of their child making mistakes, or falling under peer pressure or being among the wrong company. But, isn’t that how life really works? University is when all of us have made mistakes and done some crazy things. But, we have received most of our life lessons from here. Meeting new people was another fun aspect of being in university.
Always be prepared for the “I can’t do this” or “I want to come back home” call. As parents, be calm and understand what situations are leading to such emotions. Help them to cope with it instead of falling under the emotional spell. Encourage them and tell them that you are always available for them, just a call away.
Support your child through every step of college life but only when they ask for it. Do not barge into their woes and worries and make them yours. Help them to learn from their mistakes and grow into young adults.
Goodbyes are hard
Parting with your child is the most painful step to take. Every parent of university students dreads this moment in their lives. It is hard to hold back your tears but this is where you need to be strong for them. Your child might break down and find it difficult to go ahead.
Give them the warmest, tightest hug and tell them how much you love and will miss them. Give them that surety that you will always be there for them.
Enjoy your own freedom
This new phase of life is not only for your child but for you as well. Now, being parents of university students, you will have ample time on your hands. There will be bouts of feeling lonely, or emptiness in the house but use it to your advantage.
This new-found freedom can give you time for yourself and your partner. Do the things that you love doing or missed out on while focusing on parenting. As simple as, reading that book you have been wanting to for a long time, or a holiday with your partner to a new destination, or invest in a new hobby.
It will take time to get used to the calm and peace around you or in the house. Enjoy every bit of it.
If you have experienced the same, share with us some of your advice or tips for parents of university students.