College tours are in full swing for many of our families as they help their children prepare for this next phase in life. More than once I’ve heard the story of the stunned teenager as they realize that mom will no longer be on laundry duty…and so the story begins.
Have you prepared your children to launch into this world of ours? Have you spent as much time teaching them how to be a successful adult as you have being their friend and confidant? If so, it is never too late. Here are a few parenting tips you can implement now to ensure your teen or pre-teen child is prepared to survive their first semester away.
- Have them do their own laundry. If you are a freak like me, this is a hard one. I promise you that the world won’t end if they shrink something or turn it red. Start by teaching them the basics and watching them actually do the work, then let them loose to do it on their own. You will be pleasantly surprised at how good they are at it.
- Make them set their own alarms to get up for school and DO NOT do it for them. Unless you are prepared to drive to their dorm rooms five days a week, they need to be able to get up on their own. This seems simple but it will be the difference in a good semester and a failed semester. Oh and when they oversleep (and they will) let them suffer the natural consequences of the unexcused absence. DO NOT cover for them unless you are prepared to do the same for them in College.
- Have them fix their own breakfast (and lunch for that matter). Unless you want your child to be sustained on pop tarts, Cheetos, and fast food, they must know how to cook a meal. The habits they are developing now are the habits they will take with them into adulthood. Again, start slow. Help them identify variety and things they might like and show them how to prepare. As they become more confident, gradually back away.
In today’s world, it is very easy to do things for our kids out of love but be mindful that your “love” isn’t crippling them or you may have to love, aka take care of them longer than you expected.