14th August, 2019

How to Prepare your Child (and You!) for University

By Joe D

It’s A-Level Results Day and a massive congratulations are in order!

For now, it’s time to put your feet up and relax with a nice glass of champagne.

Eventually, however, your thoughts are going to turn to university. In a couple of months, your child will be leaving the roost and taking their first steps towards adulthood.

This can be a pretty stressful time, both for your child and for you, and so we’ve put together a brief guide to help you get prepared.

It’s Going to be Emotional

You probably already knew this, but just in case you didn’t… Yeah, things are going to get emotional.

Your child’s going to be experiencing a wide range of emotions. They’ll be excited about the new experiences that are coming round the corner. They’ll be sad at the thought of being away from home. And they’ll be nervous, because they’re moving to a new city, living with strangers, and they’ll finally have to cook for themselves!

As for parents, well you’re going to be going through all of those emotions but on an even larger scale. If this is your first child who is going to university, then this is all going to hit you fairly hard.

The first thing you need to remember is that emotional reactions are perfectly normal and healthy. It’s also worth keeping in mind that your child is likely to try and hide how they feel, and put on a brave face.

Communication, as always, is key. As you approach move-in day, take the time to talk to your child and assess how they feel. Often, simply talking about it is enough to make you both feel better.

Emotion is fine, regardless of how embarrassed your child will be when you’re a blubbering wreck in front of their new flatmates.

Get Everything you Need

girl prepares for uni with sweets

Believe it or not, students now take a lot of stuff with them to university. It isn’t like the good old days where you’d turn up with a few tins of baked beans and just make do.

Your child will want to take all kinds of belongings with them, including hair straighteners, a beer fridge, games consoles, a TV, and their entire wardrobe.

There are, however, certain things that your child will definitely need, and so you should make sure you focus on those items. The rest is just a bonus.

Necessities include cooking utensils, some food to keep your child going during the settling-in period, detergent, bedding, stationary, and toiletries.

You can see a full checklist here.

Make sure you stock up on everything you need well ahead of time. The last thing you or your child wants is to be rushing around the supermarket the night before they move in.

Having said that, be ready to rush off to the shops once you arrive and your child realises they didn’t pack their toothbrush!

Talk About Money

Families hate talking to each other about money, and so we realise this could potentially be tricky. However, talking about budgets, and how you’re going to support your child financially, is really important.

Chances are, your child has never had to seriously stick to a budget before. Unless you want phone calls in the middle of the night because they can’t afford the next round of drinks, you’d better teach them how.

Sit down together and make a list of various costs, estimating how much they’re likely to spend each month. Then work out how much money a month their maintenance grant works out to. At this point, you can see if you’re going to need to send them money each month.

Spoiler: You will.

At this point, you can work together to make their budget work. Cutting down on the alcohol is good for their wallet and their health. Cooking big batches of food works out cheaper. Do they need that gym membership, or can they go for a run?

Helping your child to create and stick to a budget will help them massively at university, and reduces the stress that a lack of money can bring. It’s also a great skill for them to use throughout the rest of their adult lives.

Teach Them to Cook

man learning to cook for university

If your child can’t cook, then one of two things will happen. Either they’ll live off toast and starve, or they’ll live off takeaways and their wallet will starve. And neither is particularly good for them.

A startling number of teenagers can’t cook, and so when they finally have to fend for themselves they don’t know what to do.

The run-up to move-in day provides you with the perfect chance to teach your child how to cook.

Focus on quick, easy, and cheap recipes. Your child doesn’t want the finest cuisine, they just want something nutritious and tasty that they can knock together in a hurry.

Some student classics include stir fry, spaghetti bolognese, and pasta bake, but there are plenty of great recipes out there for you to try with your child.

Teach them the basics. How to cook an egg, boil pasta, prepare veg.

Trust us when we say that knowing how to cook well will make your child’s university experience ten times better.

Let Them Go

As much as it will hurt you to hear it, your child is now an adult. They’re leaving the safety and comfort of the nest, and learning to fly on their own.

That can be pretty hard for parents to take, and so they often end up forcing themselves into their child’s life.

But doing that will only serve to annoy your child, and stress them out further. As far as your child is concerned, they’re ready for this. They feel like a mature adult, even if they do still rely on you to iron their clothes.

It’s time to let them go.

If you feel like you’re intruding on your child’s life a little too much, then you need to take a step back.

Give your child room to spread their wings and they’ll soar.

Good Luck

Moving to university is an exciting time, both for you and your child. It’s normal to be nervous, but try to focus on the positives.

University will help your child to grow as a person. They’ll become more independent, more confident, and more ready to go out into the adult world.

Your hard work has got them to this point, remember, so give yourself a pat on the back, put your feet up, and take a well-earned break.

Best of luck to you and your child!

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