How to support the transition from home to college
How long has it been since you made that walk to your dorm as a freshman with the box of your life’s precious belonging? You didn’t know whether to be excited or scared, happy or sad, brave or emotional. You were probably all of those. You don’t know how hard or easy it will be for your child. I believe, regardless of how outgoing and confident a kid is, there’s always hesitation, and they always miss home.
I was definitely surprised to get that call from my daughter, crying, saying she missed home. Not her. Yes, indeed, they all miss home. How they show, it is very individual.
It can be challenging for a child to adjust as they leave home and head out on their own to college. Going from high school to college is a significant change. Likewise, those kids close to their families may have a more challenging time. Remember family traditions, roughhousing with their siblings, special times with Mom and Dad, and all of their friends. All their daily relationships and routines, those memories come rushing back.
Helping to make that transition can also be stressful since, as parents, you don’t have a formula for what to do. And kids aren’t always self-aware enough or understand enough about what they are venturing into to discuss their feelings and concerns. Unfortunately, most also believe they need to be brave and deal with it independently.
Some typical challenges during transitioning;
– Feeling lost or out of place
– Missing family and friends
– Struggling academically in a new environment
– Financial concerns/adjustments to living on a student budget
– Social adjustments, making new friends, and keeping old ones.
They are all real challenges. Kids need to know it doesn’t just feel like a significant change. It IS a big change. They are not the only ones going through it. And they are not expected to step right up and know how to handle everything.
Some of us don’t realize that it can be challenging for the parent. So don’t project the feelings you are struggling with on them. Instead, stay involved in their lives. Visit them, show team spirit. Schedule weekly virtual calls. It will help all of you, including their younger siblings. I found this article that may be helpful.
Have the conversations with the kids. Let them know you are there to support them. And send them off with memories that soothe the emotions. T-shirt quilts can be a great way to do that. All their favorite shirts from their childhood and adolescence weaved together into a quilt that they can hang out on their bed waiting for them when they need it. It reminds them of the times while home and that they are loved and backed. I hear the sentiment that “quilts are like a warm hug” often. I think your kids will be glad they can have those warm hugs at their leisure.
Send them off with a t-shirt Quilt
What to include in the quilt. Think about the most favorite moments, achievements they are proud of, activities with best friends. They may have a favorite shirt just because it’s soft and warm. Definitely include it. This spreadsheet will give you an idea of how many shirts you need for what size.
You may even sneak in one of Mom or Dad’s shirts they admire or has a funny saying on it. If they are leaving behind a girlfriend, boyfriend, or best friend, it may make sense to have them add something small, maybe hidden, into the quilt. What a great find that would be once in their dorm. It could be in the form of a little something in a pocket that is not physically part of the quilt (just in case you don’t know if the relationship will last, wink, wink).
The quilt will not only be a reminder of home and friends. It will be the vehicle that enables them to talk about their “early years” to their new friends and roommates. Sharing those memories will ease the uneasiness. In addition, the stories will help create the new bonds the kids will have with their new friends.
And who can’t love a quilt for keeping warm at night, when they are up late studying for exams, or so we all hope. Are they moving somewhere cold? Winter months may require additional layers on the bed. A quilt will be perfect.
I’m going to break in with a station break. First, make sure you talk to them about care and washing the quilts. Although t-shirt quilts are durable, they will take only so much wear and tear. So you may want to advise them the less washing, the better. How great will that be for a college kid?
T-shirt quilts aren’t just for your children. Consider nieces and nephews or good friend’s children. What a great surprise.
Ultimately, a t-shirt quilt is a perfect sentimental gift that will give your children warm hugs and comfort as they transition into adulthood and beyond!