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Family Life

On the Highway of Life With Your College Kid

Marybeth Bock, MPH

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As I watched my husband and daughter drive off together one weekend this past summer, she in her car and he in a rented truck, I did the math in my head. This would be the 12th time (yes twelve!) that we were helping one of our kids move since our oldest started college in 2015.

We’ve helped with moves into and out of campus dorms. We’ve helped with moves into rental apartments near campuses. We’ve helped with moves back home and then off again to rental houses in other cities.

We've become experts in renting pick-up trucks, vans, and small to not-so-small trucks. We are skilled at sharing storage units, wrapping pieces of furniture with moving blankets, and convincing friends to come over to help move a hefty and awkward-sized couch (“Please stay for a drink!”).

We know how to scour Facebook Marketplace, Next Door, and Goodwill for used coffee tables, lamps, and wall décor. We’ve put together enough Ikea furniture to qualify for Swedish passports, and have resorted to “McGuyvering” a front door off its hinges to squeeze furniture through and then using a ballpoint pen and a brick to get it back on.

So, listen up if you are a new-to-college (or soon-to-be college) parent: That first move into a dorm is just the beginning. The college and young adult years are a colorful blur of careful freeway merges, taping and cutting open moving boxes, banding together clothes hangers with shirts falling off onto a dusty floor, pulling Command strips from walls, and buying tubs of bleach wipes, over and over and over again.

My unsolicited advice?

Encourage your kid to live and travel light. Don’t buy huge anything — be it furniture, plants, or artwork framed in glass. Tell them to embrace the “less is more” vibe and gently suggest that they truly don’t need 10 pairs of tan sandals or 50 fraternity t-shirts.

And parents, remember that moving days are pains in the bum, so pack plenty of water, snacks, phone chargers, patience, and good humor. Thankfully they are also opportunities for bonding, laughter, and making memories that will last for years.

When my daughter and my husband drove away from our house, the Rascal Flatts’ song “Life is a Highway” popped into my head.

The lyrics are spot-on for us parents who continue to help our kids move from place to place:

“Through all these cities and all these towns

It's in my blood, and it's all around

I love you now like I loved you then

This is the road, and these are the hands”

We love our kids fiercely and do whatever we can to help and support them — including getting them settled, once again, into their next home.

Safe travels to you all.

Originally shared on CollegiateParent's Facebook page. Find more conversation and community in our College Parent Insiders Facebook group.
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Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adult students and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor and freelance writer. Marybeth has a bachelor's degree in psychology from UCLA and a master's in public health from San Jose State University. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing. You can find her work on multiple parenting sites and in two books.
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