This month parents all across the country will pack up their graduating seniors and move them into apartments and dorm rooms to begin college. It’s such a transition, not just for kids learning a new school and new classes, but also for parents learning how to navigate these years.
The distance is a hard adjustment. And even if kids attend a local college, there’s usually a growing independence because the kids just aren’t home as much.
Amid the changes, it’s important to find ways to stay connected with our college kids. Many families set up a phone call at a certain time and day each week. And snail mail or emails from home are always fun to get.
Amid the changes, it’s important to find ways to stay connected with our college kids.
As you and your child adjust to the changes that college brings, here are 7 ways to connect with your college kids.
1. When you go for a visit, make dinner for your child and his friends.
For the last three years, another friend and I have packed a homemade dinner and driven it to the scholarship houses where our boys live. We actually serve two houses of about 35 students. This has become a treasured tradition for us, for our sons, and for their housemates. An easy alternative: treat your child and his close friends to lunch before a big game or dinner at a local pizza place.
2. Mail something special.
This is a neat trick I learned from a veteran college mom. She simply puts a mailing label and stamps right on a box of theater candy and mails it. It doesn’t get any easier! Hint: Use this around Valentine’s Day or Easter to send some of your college kids’ favorite holiday treats.
3. Open your home for the weekend.
What a great way not only to stay connected with your own college kid but also his friends. Open your home for a weekend visit or spring break and host several of your child’s friends. Most college kids would love to have a weekend of family games, exploring another city, home-cooked meals, and warm hospitality.
4. Take their phone call even when it’s inconvenient.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been headed to bed late after a long day when one of my college kids calls. “Can you talk, Mom?” The answer is always yes. No matter how tired I am or whether I’m in the middle of grocery shopping, I make it a top priority to be available when they call and, as much as I’m able, to let them end the call.
5. Use the social media they use.
Parents will find it much easier to connect across the miles by using social media. Some of my kids prefer to text. Others like Snap Chat and Instagram. While these never replace deeper conversations, social media provides a quick and easy way to stay connected. Hint: set up a private family group to share funny stories, prayer needs, family news, and pictures of the beloved family pet.
6. Amazon is your care package friend.
Despite my best intentions, I’ve not done a great job of getting care packages to my college kids. That’s about to change. Some of my friends shared that they send goodies to their kids through Amazon. Care packages can include anything from gift cards to a themed box of treats.
7. Or make group care packages.
This is a fun way to put together care packages for several college kids at once. Invite other college moms over and have everyone bring multiples of something to contribute to the care packages. Put out a selection of cards and pens so that moms can write encouraging notes to each of the students. What a neat way to get together with other college moms while putting together group care packages that can be sent to each student.
Not every family will do everything on this list. Find what works for you and what feels natural for your family. Respect your college student’s growing independence while also being intentional to span the distance and maintain family relationships.
So weigh in: do you have a special way to stay connected with your college student?