Thanks to Michelin for sponsoring today’s post.
Are you getting ready to send your new college freshman off to college for the first time? As a mom, that is a huge (and emotional) milestone. We are so excited to have Julia share her thoughts on sending her second daughter off to college with us.
She has some great tips if you are getting ready to make the drive to orientation with your college freshman!
It was August 1986 and there I was, driving across Death Valley with my parents on our way to my new life as a college freshman.
As the miles passed, I endured listening to my parents as they alternated between reminiscing about my younger years, giving me advice on what I should and shouldn’t do in the dorms, and talking about my hopes and dreams for the future.
I wondered if it would have been a better idea for me to fly up to school on my own. I envisioned looking sophisticated and independent to my new dorm mates if I had arrived alone. However, as we neared the highway exit for my new home-away-from-home, my fantasies melted away. Suddenly I was filled with self doubt.
- Would I be able to fit in?
- What if my roommate and I didn’t click?
- Did I even know what I was doing with my life?
- How was I going to survive in a tiny mountain town and live without my beautiful LA?
I was convinced that I was the only person on the planet who felt so inadequate. As we eventually pulled into the parking lot of my new dorm, I was surprised to find it filled with cars from all over the country, a symbol of many other moms and dads who had made this trek with their children. I wasn’t alone and I knew that my mom and dad believed in me enough to drive for hours and make time in their busy lives to share this moment with me.
I was going to be okay.
Thirty years have passed and I still remember the tears in my eyes as I waved goodbye to my parents as they headed back to Cali. Now my second child is heading off to college, to my Alma Mater no less.
As the summer months pass, we will be busy prepping for this momentous event; buying new dorm bedding and room decor, ordering textbooks on Amazon, and connecting with new dorm mates via Instagram and Facebook.
While my daughter may be much more sophisticated and confident than I was at her age, I will resist the temptation to put her on a plane to move out on her own. Instead, we will load up the family minivan and trek together across the miles from sunny Southern California to Provo, Utah.
As we have done this before with my older daughter, we have learned some lessons to make the drive to orientation a pleasant one.
Here are a few tips I would recommend:
- Always make sure your car is in top shape to travel. In addition to having the oil changed, it is important to check your fluid levels and ensure that your tires have good tread.
- Carry an emergency car kit with you, along with a good supply of water. Being prepared brings peace of mind and puts you in a position of confidence.
- Plan your route ahead of time. This should include points of interest (museums, natural or historic sites) to visit as well as places for dining and refueling.
- Commit yourself to keeping the gas tank as close to half-full along the way as possible. Sometimes the unexpected happens (extensive road work, an accident on the highway, Las Vegas traffic). Having enough fuel minimizes stress and allows us to enjoy the true purpose of our adventure together.
- Don’t overpack your car. It’s not worth it to compromise your safety by blocking your views in order to take something up to school that you could easily purchase at your new location. Cramped quarters also make for a really long trip.
- If your destination is more than 8 hours away, break the drive up into a couple of days and take your time. While you want to get to school as soon as possible, arriving super tired and worn out will put you and your child in a position where you will not be at your best when meeting new people at orientation or in their new dorm.
During our trip we will cross the same Death Valley I crossed three decades ago with my own folks. We will remember happy moments of days gone by and I will do my best to not give too much advice.
Most importantly , we will focus on her hopes and dreams for the future and create a new memory together. Once she is settled and I am making the long teary-eyed journey home, I will look in the rearview mirror and give thanks for the gift of being there at the start of this new chapter in my daughter’s life.
Be there, no matter where they go. Have a student headed off to college? Read more stories from parents like me on Instagram. Join the conversation by using the hashtag #BETHEREMOMENTS
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