While many families have already sent their grade school and high school kids back to the classrooms, college students are now gearing up for campus life. And while the prospect of living away from home is oh-so-exciting, it can also be a bit daunting.
Stock the Kitchen
If your child is moving to a dorm on campus or in a nearby apartment, they may not be used to living on their own. So think about things they always use at home, starting with the kitchen: ice cube trays, a microwave, oven mitts, silverware, cookware, garbage can, can opener, etc. Write down a list of what you think will be crucial to ensure sustenance at every mealtime and then start figuring out how to acquire these necessities. Some parents will pass down used dishes, pots, pans, tools, etc.
If your child’s living space is big enough to have a living room, or den, then they’ll need stuff to sit on and a place for a desk, TV and other electronics. Cheap, used couches and tables can be found on Craigslist or other online resellers, and lots of cheap accessories like lamps and pillows can be scored at discount retailers. For the bedroom, invest in a good bed frame and mattress. Your college student will need a good night’s sleep as much as possible and they’ll need a bed frame and a mattress that can last you at least 4 years. Don’t forget other necessities, like a laundry basket, a full-length mirror and shelves.
Keep it Clean
For the bathroom, they’re gonna need good towels – choose a color or two that they love and find the quick-drying kind. If they’re in a shared space or have a hallway bathroom, purchase a robe and rubber sandals or flip-flops. A shower caddy is perfect for carrying shower bottles and toothpaste. And don’t forget clean up! A Swiffer broom is perfect for cleaning hardwood or tile floors and a dust pan helps with spills that aren’t liquid. Disinfecting wipes are perfect for cleaning bathroom (and kitchen) surfaces easily and you can buy bleach tablets to place in the toilet bowl tank.
Give it Style
Your child’s dorm or your apartment will be their own personal retreat from the pressures of school, so help them make it a place they’ll feel at home. If the walls are blank or ugly, hang a tapestry for color or to cover blemishes. Use string LED lights to give the living room or bedroom a soft glow. Add photographs of family and friends to give them something to smile about when feeling homesick. Lift the bed up off the floor with risers so they can store more stuff underneath, so there’s less clutter in their living space. And use accessories like pillows, bedspreads, curtains, rugs, and lamps to reflect their tastes and inspire creativity.
Cook it Up
Now that you have everything in place, you need to meet your child’s most important need – food. And it can be a struggle with a crazy class schedule, lack of funds, and their need to eat comfort food so they “can deal.” If they were lucky enough to score a microwave, your newly-independent young adults can easily whip up breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and dessert!) with some of these simple recipes. Staples like cereal, peanut butter sandwiches, cheese and crackers, energy bars, etc. are good for a quick meal when they’re on the go. And they should always check with local restaurants for lower-priced meal opportunities such as happy hour, lunch specials, and all-you-can-eat deals.