It won’t be long before parents across the country are moving their teens into their college dorms.

If you’re one of those parents, you’re probably looking for all the help you can get to prepare for the big move. Before you make your college packing list, check out this advice from parents who’ve been through the freshman move.

1. Document What Your Child is Bringing

Maria Leonard Olsen, a mom and author of 50 After 50—Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life, suggests taking a tally of what your student is bringing into a roommate situation. This is especially important if everyone is contributing shared items like kitchenware, rugs, lamps, and furniture.

“It’s helpful to photograph or record whose items are whose, so during move-out there’s less confusion,” she says.

You can make a simple note in your phone so you won’t forget what belongs to who. It’s important to keep track of your child’s belongings so they can bring them along to wherever they move next.

2. Utilize Pickup Services at Local Stores

If you need to pick up dorm essentials, Olsen also recommends opting for in-store pickup over delivery. Target, for example, allows you to order and pay through the app, then pick up your items shortly after. You can even go with curbside pickup if you don’t feel like getting out of your car. The best part is that you won’t pay for shipping. This is an especially helpful tip if you’re flying in and want to save on baggage fees. Lugging around dorm room must-haves can get expensive—and heavy. Make a shopping list with your student before leaving home, then place your order and grab it when you get close to campus.

3. Make Carrying as Easy as Possible

“Many dorms don’t have elevators, and it’s hard to walk up and down stairs with heavy boxes balanced precariously on your hip,” says mother of two Jenny Jedeikin. “Big black garbage bags filled with clothes are much easier to sling over your shoulder to carry and easier to discard later.”

For items that require a box, avoid filling your boxes to the brim and making them too heavy—you’ll probably be the one doing the heavy lifting. You can also bring your own wheeled bins or a dolly. Many schools supply them, but there’s no guarantee one will be available when you pull up to campus. Wheeling your kid’s stuff from the parking lot to the dorm is much easier than carrying every box, bag, and mini fridge separately.

4. Prepare to Shop for Things You Forgot

Jedeikin also recommends planning for a shopping excursion. “After you unpack, you’re going to realize everything you forgot or didn’t know you needed. Make sure you have an idea of where the big-box stores are located.”

If your child’s school has provided a list of dorm rules, be sure to bring those with you. After an exhausting day, it’s going to be hard to remember those kinds of details. For example, some dorms may only allow specific types of wall hangings or prohibit certain home appliances. It’s better to know these things before making your college packing list.

5. Pack Food

You might have plans to have a fun lunch and explore life around campus that day, but Jedeikin says you shouldn’t count on it. “There will be way more to do than you expect, and it will be easier to just take a 10-minute lunch break and continue working through the day.”

If you’re driving in, consider packing lunch and snacks in a cooler. You can also opt for takeout or a grab-and-go lunch you can eat while unpacking—and your child can always hang onto the leftovers. When all the hard work is done, that might be the best time to go out for dinner, explore the town, and check out the campus.

6. Figure Out Health Care Providers

Dad Nathaniel Turner found out the hard way just how important it is for your child to know their health care options. “We had a few experiences where the cost of medical care was extraordinarily expensive because the care our son received was outside the network. So I definitely recommend finding the health care professionals who will be covered before an emergency comes up.”

Check with your child’s insurance plan to find your nearest in-network urgent care, emergency room, and pharmacy. After you do this research (and before moving to college), have a conversation with your student to explain your insurance coverage so they know what to expect.

7. Choose a National Bank

Consider a national bank for your child’s student banking. While credit unions and local banks are an option, Turner brings up a good point: “Choosing a national bank allowed us easier access to help manage my son’s finances, like depositing money from a distance. It was also a great tool for keeping track of his spending.”

You’ll also want to prepare your child for managing their money on their own. That includes:

  • Making a college budget
  • Discussing if they’ll have a job or side gig while in school
  • Opening a student credit card or putting them as an authorized user on one of your accounts

8. Remember to Take Care of Yourself

Moving to college can be hard both emotionally and physically. Olsen wishes she had prepared more for the taxing nature of it all. “Moving is recognized as one of life’s greatest stressors, and this has the added stress of your child leaving the nest. Practice self-care so you can stay calm and centered—for yourself as well as for your child.”

It’s also good to think about how you’ll spend your time when your child goes off to school. You may be used to volunteering at their high school or attending their sporting events. Moving them to college could be an opportunity for you to discover new hobbies, travel, spend more time with friends, or lean into your career.

This time marks a big transition in your child’s life. No matter how much you prepare, there will probably be something that falls through the cracks. What matters most is helping your child feel confident and ready for this next chapter.

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