Tag Archives: College

20 Questions to Ask Your College Tour Guide

Get the most out of your next college tour with these 20 questions to ask your college tour guide. Great advice! | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

College tours are essential for deciding where your kid’s home away from home is going to be for the next four (or more) years. It’s a big deal! In fact the gravity of the situation may have you obsessively making lists of questions to pepper the tour guide with once you get them in your sights.

But . . .

Remember college is all about your child stepping out on their own. If you take over the tour group time, you’re essentially creating a filter between your kid and their experience of the campus. A wise compromise is to discuss using the tour group time effectively BEFORE you slap on that name tag. This list of questions will help. In fact, why not just forward the entire article to your child now?

3 General Tips

1. Only tour when students are present. It makes all the difference in the world. Without the students, you’re just looking at a bunch of buildings. We already made this mistake, learn from it. The first school we toured was on winter break, and my daughter got a very negative impression of it: cold, too expansive, and boring. We went back later and she discovered a whole new perspective when the student union was hopping and the quad was filled with students. Luckily this campus was only a couple of hours from our house, but who has time to tour all the colleges on their list twice?

2. Understand what questions NOT to ask the tour guide. If it’s a question that can be answered from the website, skip it. Enough with obsessing over the average SAT scores already. Also, realize what is beyond their scope. Your guide will generally be a student—a well-trained student—but still, they have no admissions authority. On every. single. tour. someone asked about financial aid. Just no. That’s what an appointment with a financial aid counselor is for.

3. If you have to choose between a tour and sitting in on a class, take the tour. While it may be exciting for your student to get a taste of college, they’re getting a very narrow experience just sitting in on one class. We got much more decision-making information from thoughtfully using a tour. By our third visit, even if we had time for our daughter to sample a class, she was passing on that option. Sitting in on a class was more helpful on accepted student days.

Questions to Ask

First consider your tour guide to be your window into what it’s really like to attend that school! Just remember, this is their job, a job they picked because they love their school, but still a job. They’re trained on how to deflect negative questions. I’m definitely NOT saying they are disingenuous, but let’s just acknowledge that questions like “how’s the party scene?” have certain scripted answers.

To get information not found anywhere else, it helps to get your guides talking about themselves—everyone’s favorite subject.

With that in mind, a good place for your student to start is  . . .

1. Why did you choose this school? Ask this of as many people as you can to get as clear a picture as you can. It’s better than the anonymous info on College Niche.

2. What is this school known for? If you keep hearing “sports,” you need to decide if that’s an important thing to you or not. When the social scene revolves around going to games, you may be lonely if you don’t join in.

3. What do you think the “big” majors are at this school? If all you hear is “engineering” and you’re a dance major, you may want to assess how much funding goes to the arts.

4. Have you switched your major? How hard is it to switch your major? MANY students switch their majors. One school dropped off of my daughter’s list when she discovered she had to pick between applying to the School of Communication and the School of Journalism. If she wanted to switch between the two after she started attending, it was a whole new application process, not just a transfer form.

5. What year are you? How easy was it for you to get the classes you wanted? How about when you were a freshman? Most students readily spill about the pain and annoyance of being shut out of classes. This is very telling.

6. How were you assigned your adviser and do you use them? Be very concerned about finishing in four years at a school where people claim not to use advising. It of course can be done, but it takes a high level of diligence.

7. How did you communicate with your adviser before you signed up for classes as a freshman and how helpful were they? We did not ask this once and it should have been one of the deciding factors for picking a school. We lucked out that the advisement program at my daughter’s university is superb. Her adviser spent a couple of hours with her on the phone over multiple calls helping her map out her classes for freshman year and beyond. Be aware that the quality of advisement can vary by major even at the same school.

8. What year do people start to get internships? Be a little worried if the answer is senior year because from internships come jobs.

9. Is studying abroad a big deal here? What year do people do it? Also be aware that some schools encourage it during winter breaks and summers meaning extra cost on top of tuition. Some schools have programs where a semester abroad is covered by tuition plus travel costs.

10. What are the best dorms? Did you get that one as a freshman? Good to get the inside scoop.

11. How did you get your roommate? At my daughter’s school there was an official questionnaire and matching service, but my daughter found hers on the unofficial Facebook page. Also good to note, especially if it is a local college, do people seem to room with friends from high school?

12. Are there “quiet” dorm or floor options? Another question we did not think to ask. This is good for the introvert and the extrovert. The quiet person can get what she wants and the socialite can avoid being shushed (or worse) all of the time.

13. Do you still live on campus? When do students generally move off-campus? Another question we should have asked. I thought my girl would have at least three years in the dorms, but alas, many of the students at her school move off-campus after freshman year (the only year they are required to live in the dorms).

14. Have you been here during a campus lockdown? Are alerts sent out often? These questions delve deeper than “is the campus safe?”

15. Does the campus clear out on the weekends? If you are hundreds of miles away from home, you don’t want to end up at what is essentially a commuter school.

16.Describe your typical Saturday here to me. Gets at the above question from a different angle.

17. What are you involved with on campus? This is a more open-ended way to see what clubs, endeavors, and activism your tour guide is involved with.

18. What kinds of off-campus things do you do? This can be very telling about the surrounding art culture, jobs, and club scene . . . or it can drive home that you are looking at a school in the middle of a cow pasture.

19. What do the locals say about this school? Also very telling.

20. How necessary is it to have a car? If freshman are not allowed cars, how do people work around that? This will clue you into how prevalent the use of Uber is or whether there is a sweet garage where students keep their cars off-campus.

Okay, now breathe. These questions only serve as a guideline for information you may not have thought to gather, not as permission to monopolize the group. Let others talk. You may just learn something neither you nor I realized we needed to know. And by all means, if you think of a good question, please add it in the comments. I have college tours looming on my horizon AGAIN.

I’ll leave you with one last piece of advice: if your child is very interested in a school and has narrowed their major down, please consider calling that department to arrange for a specialized tour. They may even offer for you to meet with a dean or an adviser before you even have to ask. We found this VERY helpful if we were visiting from far away and “popping over” for another look was not possible.

Oooo, one last LAST piece of advice. Talk finances with your child before you tour. If you can’t swing a school without significant aid/scholarship, let them know that caveat before they fall in love. It’s an easier conversation before they have stars in their eyes.

Happy touring and take plenty of pictures! This may be the start of your child’s new path!

-Ellen 

 

Hey! Want to buy our new book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

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What Surprised Me When My College Kid Came Home for Thanksgiving

What Surprised Me When My College Kid Came Home for Thanksgiving | I was not prepared for how I felt when my college kid came home for Thanksgiving. Her visit illuminated with LED intensity all that had been missing. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

My college freshman daughter came home for Thanksgiving and it. was. glorious. Some friends who still have all of their chicks under one roof commented that Thanksgiving break came up pretty quickly considering it was only three months since I said good-bye. Only. I just again read my piece about sending her off in August—contemplating whether or not my “sweet spot of motherhood” was behind me—and it feels like it has been three lifetimes.

My “sweet spot” did indeed expand as I had hoped to encompass long distance parenting from Maryland to Miami. My daughter has communicated with us with a regularity beyond my wildest hopes via texting, Face Timing, calling, and Snapchatting. She is generous about sharing her new life, and has continued to seek my advice. I haven’t been kicked to the proverbial curb. For my part, I have become the master of high quality care packages.

Halloween Care Package | Use a cheap seasonal blanket from Walmart to line the box. | College | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

She is still in my life, it’s just in a different way. In a way that is the epitome of life moving forward. In fact, life continued to march forward for all of us. As soon as we dropped her off, field hockey was in full swing for my sophomore daughter. And then I shoveled out her room. And then we got a dog. There really was no time for weeping or hand-wringing . . . or at least I didn’t leave myself time for that.

In general, I’ve handled marching forward pretty well. That’s why I was taken aback by the wave of emotion that hit me during the week she was home for Thanksgiving.

I missed her most while she was here!

I mean I have missed her since the moment she left, but I had gotten use to her not being around. And by “used to” I mean I just didn’t think about it that much. I really just couldn’t. Besides, she is happily hitting her stride, and we had a lovely visit over Family Weekend. How could I complain about a natural order that was going this well?

But, I have felt a bit off-centered and blah. Not exactly mopey, just unsettled. Beating her room into order and adopting myself some unconditional canine love helped, but I hadn’t really worked through it all. There’s not a lot of space to discuss ambiguous feelings. People can maybe handle hearing that you are sad, but they really just want you to say “I’m fine.” My kid was busy being everything I hoped she would be, so what right did I have to be sad anyway? And really, when people ask you how things are going with college, they want to hear about your kid and then get back to picking through the pumpkins at the farm stand.

What Surprised Me When My College Kid Came Home for Thanksgiving | I was not prepared for how I felt when my college kid came home for Thanksgiving. Her visit illuminated with LED intensity all that had been missing. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

While I had adjusted to her being gone like a swell little soldier—my life is pretty good after all—her being here for a week illuminated with LED intensity all that had been missing. It took the return of her vim and vigor for me to realize the full impact of its absence.

I felt unmoored because I missed the dynamic of her just being in our space: her wit, her clutter, her willingness to pitch in, as well as her exasperating insistence that we embark on a ten minute hunt for another tube of toothpaste because brushing her teeth in the shower “saved” time and her sister was currently using the only other tube. While I love her snip-its of news and Snapchats, I missed what her presence brings to our family unit under this roof: completeness. Her whole senior year through college move-in day was such a seismic shift, but when the earthquake was over, I just plowed ahead instead of assessing the aftermath.

When spellcheck bleated just now that “unmoored” was not a word, I looked it up to find descriptive perfection: to bring to the state of riding with a single anchor after being moored by two or more. Eureka! This is it! After spending sixteen years with the tug and grounding of two kids with their schedules, activities and needs, I was suddenly lighter with only one at home. But instead of feeling free, I only had the uncomfortable sensation of buffeting in the breeze. In related news I may be prone to mini-panics that my youngest will be going to college in three short years.

More than once during the week I had to snap myself back into the moment instead of anticipating the empty space yawning wide again once she left. It really wasn’t hard because we had such a great time, but you know what? It hasn’t been that bad she she went back. I feel better now that my brain realizes the void my heart was flapping around. I still miss her, but I feel more grounded knowing that our family “completeness” isn’t gone; it’s just something I have to look forward to now when she returns. And boy, do I have a detailed answer for the next person who asks me how I am doing.

-Ellen 

Hey! Want to buy our new book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

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How to Cope When Your Kid Goes to College

When your kids go to college, it leaves a hole in your heart, in your home, in your everyday. Yes, they are not gone forever, and this is the natural progression of life, buuuuttttt, there is an undeniable void left behind. Or at least there are less shoes to trip over by the door. You can fill this space with a new job, more volunteering, a trip to the shoe store, or maybe even with another heartbeat. Relax! We’re not suggesting a visit from the stork, but a visit to your local animal shelter just might be the ticket. Apparently when your kid goes to college, it’s not uncommon to add to your furry brood. Our story is more than a tale of two pound puppies, it’s about the lengths two moms will go to cope with their kids flying the coop to college.

How to cope when your kid goes to college. It's more than a tale of two pound puppies; it's the lengths moms will go to deal with kids flying the coop. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Erin’s Story: Our dog adventure began as a parenting cautionary tale. My kids were jonesing hard for a dog long before my oldest began filling out college applications, but my youngest son, in the way of wiley family bookends, set the putsch in motion. He asked if he won the Citizenship Award at school if we could get a dog. Now, the first thing you need to know is that my youngest, while sweet, dear, and loved, is not always model student material. The second thing is that I’m not the girl you want to take to Vegas with you, because I thought we were a couple of frozen layers of hell away from my son getting this particular honor. So I took the parenting sucker bet and said, “Absolutely.” Well, ole sonny boy straightened up real good, real quick; so much so his halo was veritably shining.

Within the month, he pinned his bright new award to his shirt and marched home victoriously to show us. It turned out to be just what we needed right when we needed it most. His award came when we were in the middle of a deep familial funk over missing our biggest brother. In lieu of some plans to steal big brother back from college, we all cuddled up to the idea of a new four-legged family member. How to cope when your kid goes to college. It's more than a tale of two pound puppies; it's the lengths moms will go to deal with kids flying the coop. Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms We had a couple of roadblocks ahead of us though. One was the insane adoption process (Ellen will explain about it more below. I can’t even. Really. It  almost broke me.) The other was our crazy spring schedule that would end in a big international family trip to my brother’s wedding. As much as we wanted a dog five minutes ago, we decided to postpone the arrival of our new fur-baby until post-Cancun.

Unfortunately, when we arrived at the rescue to meet our perfect, made-just-for-us pup (so perfect he was even named Luke Skywalker!), we were heartbroken to discover that he had been adopted by someone else. Lucky for us, Ellie decided that we were hers and she adopted us on the spot. Bigger than we wanted, younger than we wanted, and a little (read: way more, like a crazy lot more) high energy than we wanted, she also turned out to be just what we needed. And even despite the fact she just ate the baseball glove my husband has had for 33 years, we would adopt her again.

How to cope when your kid goes to college. It's more than a tale of two pound puppies; it's the lengths moms will go to deal with kids flying the coop. Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

And now there’s just one more face that’s happy to see you when you are home for Fall Break!

Ellen’s Story: It began as a joke between my youngest daughter and I as the oldest of my two was rapidly approaching her high school graduation. Maybe it was because Erin was talking about getting a dog, maybe it was because we could sense the impending sucking void in our household that would yawn wide when Coco blasted off to college, but we started saying, “We need a dog, a replacement Coco, a Re-Coco, if you will.” Well, jokes became discussions, discussions became research, and research set off plans. Well, for my youngest and me that is. Coco just shook her head at us, her attention focused on the distant shores of the University of Miami. And my husband? His battle cry became, “But we have a cat!”

How to cope when your kid goes to college. It's more than a tale of two pound puppies; it's the lengths moms will go to deal with kids flying the coop. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Why? WHY!?

And we do have a cat. An adorable, beautiful, fluffy princess named Pebbles that is just, well, a cat. She gives some love in the morning, but that about taps her out for the rest of the 24 hour cycle. Sparkle, the cat we had before her—that my kids grew up with and thought was the norm—was really more of a dog. She would greet us as we came home by jumping up at the door then flopping on her back, follow us from room to room, and settle down to sleep with my youngest every night, nocturnal rhythms be damned.

See? We had already lost a measure of love three years ago with the passing of Sparkle, we were not willing to have Coco exit the scene without topping off our furry love mug. Plans did not turn into action though until my husband and I went down to the University of Miami family weekend. Seeing Coco in her element and being away from the bustle and grind of daily life brought about the magic words I was waiting to hear from my him, “Coco has this, you all need a dog.” That was all it took. We got back from Miami and I started searching rescues and shelters like it was my job . . . if my job lasted ten hours per day.

Prior to our trip, I had been scouring Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet sending in one application at a time when I found a dog bio that met our criteria: around twenty-five pounds (Corgi mixes were high on our list), good with kids and cats, and willing to dole out the love. I did this for the month and a half after dropping Coco off at school, either never hearing from the organizations or being told the animal had already been adopted. I was starting to think that catfishing was a given in the adoption game: “Oh you’re inquiring about that adorable little Corgi with the lopsided grin?” He was adopted 5 minutes ago, but could I interest you in a 100 pound mastiff that chews on felines for fun?” We were dragging on a Tinder merry-go-round of find the perfect pet, swipe right, craft application essays, have heart broken, repeat. Coco applied to college in less time than it took me to fill out some of these applications (“what is my doggie parenting philosophy??”), but I dropped everything else and focused on following links and scouring Facebook to find new rescues so I could get applications in as soon as I found suitable dogs.

Then at the end the week, I stumbled upon First State Animal Center and SPCA, a more traditional shelter, and they had just updated their new rescues on Facebook. I saw Pumpkin and was in the car within 5 minutes to see her. Well, Pumpkin was indeed there, but she bared her teeth, growled at me, then cowered in the corner shivering. It was less than a match made in heaven. But there was this one dog, one that never even barked when the rest of the kennel run was rioting. I took her to the meet and greet room without even reading her description, where she jumped up on the bench, lay her head in my lap, and the rest was history. Meet Roxie. The sweetest dog with the worst bio in the shelter: noisy, not good with kids, returned twice, 5 years old, and previously heartworm positive. None of those negative personality attributes on her profile were accurate. At all. The vet even said she looked more like she was 3 than 5. In the end, the words didn’t matter, only the love. Before her, I didn’t even know a pug and beagle mix was a thing, but now I know why puggle rhymes with snuggle. How to cope when your kid goes to college. It's more than a tale of two pound puppies; it's the lengths moms will go to deal with kids flying the coop. Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms And guess what? She’s not stingy with her love! Within minutes of Coco coming home for fall break, she was cuddling with her! How to cope when your kid goes to college. It's more than a tale of two pound puppies; it's the lengths moms will go to deal with kids flying the coop. Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms And I’ll let you in on a little secret. The dog didn’t replace Coco, it’s there to cushion the blow when my youngest leaves the nest. It’s good to have plans.

How to cope when your kid goes to college. It's more than a tale of two pound puppies; it's the lengths moms will go to deal with kids flying the coop. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

So if sending a kid to a university is in your near future, take note of our “How to Cope When Your Kid Goes to College” plan. It’s cheaper than therapy, healthier than chocolate, and infinitely cuter and snugglier. But you better start applying now.

-Erin and Ellen

Hey! Want to buy our new book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

I Just Want to Be Perfect

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Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

 

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Empty Nest? I Wish!

Kid off to college leaving you with an empty nest? I WISH!! Seems not cleaning my kids' rooms was an initiative that should have had an exit strategy. Here's how to deal with it. | Parenting Advice| Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Empty nest? EMPTY NEST?! Bwahahahaha! I wish. My girl may have launched 1150 miles away to college, but she left her nest anything but empty. I think more fitting words would be disarranged, disorganized, and disgusting. In truth it looked like a mob boss had tossed the room for the secret stashes of cash before fleeing the country.

To her credit, she washed, cleaned, organized, and packed all of her things for college. She managed to do such a good job that she was able to get it all in her allotted suitcases coming in under the airline weight restrictions. But once we returned home from drop-off and the brain bash of leaving my first baby at college drained away, the full disaster of her room walloped me. First it stabbed me in the heart because it looked like she should be arising from the rubble to greet me every morning. Seriously, her bed not only looked like she was still in it, but I swear if you stared at the heap long enough, it looked like it was breathing. My girl used A LOT of blankets since her father keeps the thermostat just north of “meat locker.”

It was with a healthy dose of trepidation that I sidled into the room and threw off the comforter. Hey, she once had a bat doing a jig at the end of her bed so a family of possums setting up camp under there was not beyond the realm of possibilities.

“Whoosh” went the covers and “ewwww” went the very core of my psyche. Had she even changed her sheets in the past three months, wait . . . THREE YEARS? It really could have been longer because I think I stopped cleaning my kids rooms and ceased being the sole laundress when she reached middle school. Silver lining: I still didn’t have to wash the sheets because they went directly into the trash.

But gah! Even though I wasn’t cleaning my daughters’ rooms, they were expected to clean them. But now that I think about it, I never inspected them. I would inspect the bathrooms they decontaminated weekly because I swear about every two months the blow dryer would just whisk the procedure for scrubbing a toilet clean out of their heads. And there was that one time our mismatched sock basket overflowed to Vesuvius levels because apparently it was easier to assume EVERY sock in our dryer was flying solo than it was to match and fold them. But their rooms? If they bothered me too much, I just closed the doors.

I truly thought she had cleaned her room though. I know I had seen it tidy at least once during the Obama administration, but once the stripped bed floated like an oasis in the middle of the room, it became clear that instead of following the “touch-it-once” rule, she was employing the “why-throw-something-away-when-you-can-shove-it-under-your-bed-in-your-closet-in-a-drawer-or-behind-the-trash-can” rule. “Just-leave-it-in-the-middle-of-the-ever-loving-floor” rule was her fail safe for when doing the bare minimum to qualify for lazy was just too taxing.

What started as “I’m just going to just pick up those pencils and put them in the caddy,” turned into a full-on excavation. Oh the treasures I found.

There was the solitary volleyball knee pad that was so old, the spandex crumbled when I picked it up. At least there was a deteriorating lollipop stuck to it gluing part of it together.

Then I found a little straw dress-up purse that contained such treasures as an expired coupon for toilet bowl cleaner and yet another decaying lollipop. (I’m starting to think her superior dental health was because she liked to hoard candy rather than eat it. Why we didn’t trade dental bills for exterminator fees, I’ll never know.)

Also amongst the rubble was a princess jump rope (permanently tangled), a junior scientist kit (never opened), and one hundred plus eleven lip balms (half of which where plastered to—you guessed it—lollipops).

I’m going to save you any more particulars, but suffice it to say, I filled up three garbage bags with stuff I didn’t even have to think twice about throwing away. Okay, I did pause over the one little purple fuzzy slipper because WHAT IF THE OTHER ONE TURNED UP?? They were pretty stinkin’ adorable.

Seems not cleaning my kids’ rooms was an initiative that should have had an exit strategy. This became abundantly clear when I started stumbling over emotional landmines like her “All About Me” kindergarten profile, the stuffed cat she use to snuggle with, and her stack of Webkinz adoption certificates. Those trips down memory lane would have been so much better with her rather than by myself three weeks into her departure when the ache of not seeing her was starting to set in. Silver lining: I had the cover of dirt dervishes to explain my reddened eyes and snuffly nose.

I really meant for the Big Clean to happen over the summer with her fully in charge; but when faced with grief or change I tend to “panic travel.” It’s like a driving force that overtakes me, compelling me to move forward and make new memories rather than dwell with the ghosts of the past, no matter how cute they are.

Besides, I hate to clean, too. Going to Philly was soooo much more fulfilling than battling dust bunnies.

Kid off to college leaving you with an empty nest? I WISH!! Seems not cleaning my kids' rooms was an initiative that should have had an exit strategy. Here's how to deal with it. | Parenting Advice| Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Oh, but snooker me once . . . you’re obviously the oldest child. Second child: don’t even think about it. You’ll have to blaze your own trail to elude me because this pathway has been scorched.

My 10th grader is shoveling out her room even as we speak . . . under protest of course. “My sister made it all the way out of the house before having to do this and now YOU’RE cleaning her room.”

True, but I did leave this wall of memorabilia for her to deal with. I’m COMPLETELY positive I won’t be the one taking it down weeks after her wedding day. I just wasn’t ready to turn her nest into the perfect guest room quite yet. She needs somewhere familiar to land when she comes homes to roost every once in a while.

Got clutter? Get clean and organized with a Memorabilia Jar. Easy DIY project. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

I’ll leave you with a pro tip since we are after all the Sensible Moms. My girl has a TON of knick-knacks as you can see. I consolidated a bit of the tedious mess by putting the smallest treasures in a two gallon glass container creating a Memorabilia Jar. It truly cut down the clutter more than it may seem. The biggest trick to it is to put some boxy types items in the center so that everything gets displayed around the perimeter.

Got clutter? Get clean and organized with a Memorabilia Jar. Easy DIY project. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

-Ellen 

[Speaking of memory lane, I found the post I wrote when we redecorated my daughter’s room five years ago. I actually wrote about how I would be happy for the massive clean out I was doing then because it would save me from doing it when she went away to college. I don’t know whether to be grateful for the realization that THIS cleaning could have been worse or to tip over laughing at my delusion that a whole new mountain of stuff wouldn’t accumulate in five years time. (Obviously things slithered through that first wave of cleaning like her kindergarten profile because, well, we’re awesome.) You can be the judge after reading it here.]

 

Hey! Want to buy our new book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

I Just Want to Be Perfect

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Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

 

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Does “Off to College” Mean I’m Past the Sweet Spot of Motherhood?

Does "Off to College" Mean I'm Past the Sweet Spot of Motherhood? Motherhood is not for wimps. The strong (and happy) learn to ride the waves and there is no time you need to be stronger than when your kids go off to college. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

I was a cliche, a caricature, a tale as old as time. I was that perspiring cartoon cat chewing down her nails like a wood chipper watching the second hand stutter around the clock like a sledgehammer–boom, boom, BOOM–waiting for time to run out.

You see, this was the summer of the “Off to College” countdown for my oldest daughter. She actually flew from the nest, her college is so stinking far away. If my memory of physics serves me correctly, a light year equals eleven hundred miles. Oh wait, that’s what my heart told me when it saw the distance to Miami. My brain was stuck in the groove reminding me I was about to exit my sweet spot of motherhood.

I am a good mother—not to be confused with a perfect mother—but sweet baby booties, the infant years with my two nearly killed me. In a past life, I worked through the horrors and stress of a trauma unit, yet it was my splendid first-born who had me on the floor crying in the fetal position of surrender. She had colic and she adamantly screamed about it . . . for an average of four hours a day. And yes, I timed it as a my own little sanity check.

Don’t get me wrong, I relished the joys dished out by my two healthy daughters born two and a half years apart: the smiles, the laughter, the hugs, the “firsts,” but the mundane neediness was just so much. The day-to-day rinse and repeat of feeding, diapering, clothing, bathing, and putting to bed sapped the spring of my being in a way, that while not unique, is not something all mothers experience. You know those women who must scoop up and snuffle every baby they see? Yeah, I’m good with just oohing and ahhing outside the splash zone.

But each mother should be handed an embroidered pillow upon delivery that reads “Don’t Despair Over any One Moment of Motherhood Because It’s a Fluid Time-Warp Sand Dune That Changes and Morphs Each and Every Day One Grain of Sand at a Time.” Granted, it would be a large pillow, but you can’t put a word count on truth.

Motherhood is not for wimps. The strong (and happy) learn to ride the waves and there is no time you need to be stronger than when your kids go off to college. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

My psyche improved as my girls could reason and read, talk in complete, decipherable sentences, and feed themselves. As they learned to run, jump, and swim like competent little humans, I relaxed my toddler-watch wariness.

In fact, each step of independence they took away from me made me a happier mother. With the absence of tantrums and diaper bags weighing me down, I loved to explore and travel with them. I reveled as they discovered their talents and personalities. I volunteered to give them the activities and opportunities that would help them blossom into their best possible selves.

I really hit my stride as the mother of teenagers. It was . . . is my sweet spot. I find the bustle and commotion invigorating. I love the friends, the events, the deep heart-to-heart talks, the companionship, and the exploration. Contrary to popular mythology, teens really aren’t the devil. They are complex, interesting creatures simultaneously learning about themselves and the world with equal parts wonder, joy, skepticism, and despair. They are your heart, but so much more and better than you could have imagined. Of course the “so much more” also encompasses slamming doors, eye rolls, and sharp words, but how would you know when you’re on the mountaintop without the valleys? The rough patches are worth it to be center stage for the best show ever. And hey, the teen years make me crave the days when I could protect them with a bumper guard on the coffee table. There is no bubble wrap for sex, drugs, alcohol, driving, disappointment, and broken hearts. Perspective is everything.

And speaking of perspective, mine has changed again, except this time with the force of a brutal sandstorm rather than the steady trickle of sand through an hour glass. My daughter left for college a week ago and my days of having my chicks come to roost every night under one roof are gone. Sure she will come home again, but both feet will never be planted in childhood again, that spell is broken. The nuclear bubble of our “home team” is forever changed because she is a free agent branching out from my constant supervision and coaching. I am sidelined to being the whisper in the back of her head and praying that I used my eighteen years with her wisely.

But you know what? That’s okay and how it should be. And I’ve learned during this week that while I feel like my role as her mother has drastically changed, from her point of view, maybe it hasn’t. As mothers we can feel like we are at the centers of our kids’ lives because they are on the center stage in ours, but just remember back to your own teen years and you’ll realize that’s not so true. Maybe, just maybe, her crossing that stage for her diploma was not about leaving me behind, but about continuing on the path she has set for herself. This truth gives me hope that my sweet spot is not behind me, but will be expanding in new ways for years to come.

Ellen

 

 

Hey! Want to buy our new book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

I Just Want to Be Perfect

You can follow us on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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Laundry Survival Tips for Your College Student (and You)

Laundry Survival Tips For Your College Student and You! It's never too late (or too early) to teach your child life skills! Comprehensive laundry survival tips, advice and how-to for your college student and you! The bed-making and wrinkle busting tips are amazing! | Parenting Advice | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

First and foremost: THEY CAN DO THEIR OWN EVER-LOVING LAUNDRY!

Ellen: In a very few short weeks my daughter is traveling 1,147 miles away to college. In related news, I may personally make headlines if one more person asks me: “Wow, that’s far. Are you going to miss her?”

While that makes me want to kick a kitten, there is a dumbfounding twist to this irritating conversation that makes my jaw drop. They will say to my daughter: “Well that’s too far away for your mom to do your laundry. What are you going to do?”

“Um, do it myself,” she replies speaking veeeerrrry slooooowly. My high school sophomore daughter generally just stares in disbelief.

One woman of a soon-to-be college freshman even went so far as to tell us, “I told my son if he is coming home every weekend to see his girlfriend, she needs to do his laundry.”

My high school daughter (once again staring in disbelief) replied, “Or he can maybe do it himself?” To her credit, she saved, “Well, isn’t THAT a lucky girl?” for when we were back in the car.

At a party, the subject of laundry came up yet again (really), and a woman looked at me like I was Hermione Granger incarnate and breathed, “But HOW do you get them to do it?”

My high school daughter jumped in with, “Well, when we were too short to reach the buttons, she bought us a step stool.”

The woman may have lost some of her awe as she mentally lumped me in with the orphanage supervisor from Annie, but it’s whatever because this woman (me! it’s me!) is not her family’s laundress.

Erin: But it’s not only about how it benefits you, the parent, it’s about how it benefits your kid. While Ellen is getting an inkling of the laundry ineptitude at college, I KNOW about the lack of skills. My son was the hero of his freshman floor because he knew how to work a laundry machine and what products to use in it. He made lots of friends and he should have gotten a thank you note or two from some parents.

So to recap thus far:

  1. If your precious is smart enough to attend college, they can work a washing machine.
  2. It is not Quantum Physics. (See number one.)
  3. Girlfriends are not for laundry. (Neither are mothers.)
  4. Laundry skills = instant popularity.

Even if your kid has never lifted a stain stick, it’s not too late! Don’t let them learn about it on the streets . . . er, on the freshman hall. Bonus: they probably won’t even need a step stool. Here’s a laundry checklist/tutorial/pure genius to share with them.

Syllabus for College Laundry 101 |It's never too late (or too early) to teach your child life skills! Comprehensive laundry survival tips, advice and how-to for your college student and you! The bed-making and wrinkle busting tips are amazing! | Parenting Advice | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

Syllabus for College Laundry 101

Supplies:

  • Laundry bags, hampers, and/or baskets (Basically, containment for the filth.)
  • Zippered mesh washing bags (Sometimes called lingerie or delicates bags.)
  • Detergent pods
  • Stain stick
  • Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus
  • Dryer fabric softener sheets
  • Optional: Drying rack (Over-the-door models are great space savers.)
  • Optional: color catching sheets

The Basics

It’s all about the sorting.

Darks get washed with darks and lights get washed with lights. Don’t be the cliché who turns their underwear pink with a red sock; it’s sad.

Either have two separate hampers (the preferred method) and sort as you take the clothes off or sort at the machine. Have a bunch of mesh washing bags near your hamper(s) for things you don’t want to go in the dryer like bras, the tissue paper that passes for Forever 21 clothing, and sports jerseys. Put these items in the zippered bags AS SOON AS YOU TAKE THEM OFF to avoid mishaps.

Also, treat stains with your stain stick before you put them in your hamper. Chances are pretty good you won’t remember about that ketchup blob on laundry day. But take note of this: nothing sets a stain like a spin in the dryer.

It's never too late (or too early) to teach your child life skills! Comprehensive laundry survival tips, advice and how-to for your college student and you! The bed-making and wrinkle busting tips are amazing! | Parenting Advice | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

What to do with an item that is both light and dark? Most likely wash it with darks because then it becomes all about the water temperature (see below). There are also color catching sheets you can add to your load to “grab” any dye that bleeds.

Besides color, there is another consideration: texture and weight. For example, jeans are best washed in a load by themselves. Think about denim grating against your t-shirt for 40 minutes. It might not have a good outcome. If you have more than one towel, you may want to consider washing them by themselves. A couple of towels bunched up in a load can throw a washing machine off-balance, but this is not as big of a deal in a commercial machine.

One important note: don’t tightly stuff the tub with your clothes. They need room to agitate.

This is a good time to brush up on your reading.

Hey, when confusion sets in, read the label! It’s jammed packed with all sorts of information like what wash temperature to use and whether you should hand wash it. There’s a chart available here to help you crack the code of those symbols.

One caveat, cheaper clothes are often labeled “hand wash.” We often get away with washing them in mesh bags in the machine on a cold water setting. It’s all about the risk. If you would be devastated that your favorite shirt got ruined, hand wash it. If it was SUPER expensive and/or made of wool or silk and it’s labeled “hand wash,” you should heed the instructions. Buuuuutttttt, if it was a twelve dollar shirt that you probably won’t wear past one season anyway, it’s up to you to see what you can get away with.

It’s also about the temperature.

If you want to keep it simple starting out, wash everything in cold. But remember darks should always be washed in cold water. If you are feeling a little braver, lights can be washed in warm with a cold water rinse. Towels, sheets, and your gross light colored gym socks and basic underwear can be washed in hot if the labels say it’s okay.

SO many buttons.

The good news is that commercial washers are pretty straightforward and generally have instructions printed on them. Home washers tend to try to be fancier and more confusing, but all you have to do is Google the model to find the instruction manual.

In general, the “Normal/Cotton” cycle has a high agitation level good for dirtier clothes, “Permanent Press” is a warm wash followed by a cold rinse, and “Delicates” has the least rambunctious agitation and spin cycle.

Don’t forget the detergent.

Detergent pods are the best thing to happen to college students since their acceptance letters. No more schlepping heavy detergent bottles around. One note: the pods go in the bottom of the washer before you put your clothes in, not in the soap dispenser.

It’s dry time!

Back to that pesky label reading thing. Drying instructions should always be heeded. If a tag indicates an item should not go in the dryer, IT SHOULD NOT GO IN THE DRYER. For those things that can go in the dryer, throw in a fabric softener sheet and set the machine for the recommended temperature.

A good life practice is to fold/hang clothes as they come out of the dryer. For those of you snorting over this suggestion, see the next step.

Ironing.

Hahahahahahahaha! More jokes! Ironing barely happens in our own homes.

It's never too late (or too early) to teach your child life skills! Comprehensive laundry survival tips, advice and how-to for your college student and you! The bed-making and wrinkle busting tips are amazing!! | Parenting Advice | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Here’s Ellen’s situation.

Here’s what the ironing organizer is really used for on the daily.

Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus | It's never too late (or too early) to teach your child life skills! Comprehensive laundry survival tips, advice and how-to for your college student and you! The bed-making and wrinkle busting tips are amazing!! | Parenting Advice | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Which leads us to our next step . . .

Wrinkle releasing.

Here’s assuming your clean laundry is in a wrinkled heap in your basket. (We tend to be realists.) You can A) seek out the kid whose delusional mom actually thought she would use an iron or B) whip out your Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus. Just spray, tug, smooth, and hang and you’re good to go (remember to allow for a very wee bit of time for drying).

Laundry denial.

So you let your dirty clothes pile up under your bed, in your closet, or beneath your sleeping head? Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus can fix that too. Spray it, spray it real good, to eliminate the odor and ensure peaceful cohabitation with your roommate. (You can even spritz their piles if they are the offenders.)

Laundry karma.

Listen closely to this one. Never, EVER, pull a person’s clean laundry out of the washer and dump it onto the floor. You do NOT need to send that kind of bad juju out into the universe to bite you in the butt when you least expect it.

ONE LAST TIP!

It’s not an urban legend that a majority of students do NOT change their sheets. It’s a joke because people are laughing through the tears . . . because the funky sheets are making their eyes water. While we firmly believe kids should do their own laundry, we acknowledge that parents might have to do this trick at move-in.

  1. Put down the cushy mattress topper.
  2. Cover with a mattress protector.
  3. Put on a fitted sheet.
  4. Layer on ANOTHER mattress protector.
  5. Top with ANOTHER fitted sheet.
  6. Make bed up with the flat sheet, blanket, and comforter.
  7. Artfully arrange pillows.
  8. Take a picture because it might never look this way again.

So the thought is, that after a week or fifteen, your student can just peel off the top sheets and mattress protector and have a fresh bed. Of course this isn’t foolproof because your precious still has to tuck in a clean top sheet and change the pillowcase, but it’s worth a try. You probably should recommend frequent spritzes with Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus just to be safe.

One last picture because we’re ironic like this. Okay, we know it’s not irony, but we at least qualify for punny. Right!?

Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus | It's never too late (or too early) to teach your child life skills! Comprehensive laundry survival tips, advice and how-to for your college student and you! The bed-making and wrinkle busting tips are amazing!| Parenting Advice | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

While we were compensated by Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus for this post, all love for this product and hard-won advice about college laundry are all our own.

Get your coupon for Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus here!

Follow them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter for more great tips!

 

Hey! Want to buy our new book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

I Just Want to Be Perfect

You can follow us on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

 

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Why This Mom is on Snapchat

Well, I guess the number one reason I’m on Snapchat is rooted deeply in my psyche. I always wanted to be a dragon for Halloween and because of gender bias stereotypes in the 1970s I was coerced into being a princess year after year instead. With Snapchat filters, I can realize my dream while parked in my driveway—no glue gun or sewing skills required.

Got a teen? Then you should be on Snapchat . . . and not for the reasons you might think. Find out why this mom (spoiler: the mom is me) is on there. Great and easy Snapchat tutorial, too. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

Just kidding. I always got to pick my costumes. I’m on Snapchat because I have teenagers—and not for the reasons that may immediately come to mind like monitoring their activity and just plain understanding what they’re up to on their phones. Articles about managing your children’s social media have been written. Heck, we’ve written one.

No, this is more of a “if you can’t beat them, join them” sort of thing . . . or maybe it’s more like a “beat them at their own game” deal. Either way, I sound uber-competitive and that was not my intent. My point is that I’m on there to interact with them through their preferred mode of communication. My theory is that if I make it easy for them, I am going to get more frequent interfaces with them. I bet your grandma loves letters, but when was the last time you sent one? Hmmm?

This grooming them to share their day with you may seem trivial when you can just get the recap around the dinner table or on the way to lacrosse practice. It can cause a mild panic attack when it hits you that you are sending your babies away to college.

This has nothing to do with “helicoptering” either. It’s just that some of my favorite people in the world are the ones I created and I like to see their fun and joy. Just because they have the freedom to spread their wings and leave the nest doesn’t mean we have to be incommunicado. That’s not how family works.

My descent into Snapchat began when my senior in high school went with her marching band to Disney World. I felt fine sending her on her own because in seven extremely short months she would be on her own in college anyway. It’s just I was bummed missing out on the fun of it all. I love Disney and I ADORE watching my kids experiencing it. With Snapchat, she was able to quickly share tidbits (like taunting me with the balmy temps) and I could follow her “Story”—the photos she strung together to represent her day.

Do you feel like I have crossed over into a different language? Watch this quick tutorial I put together. Many of my friends complain that Snapchat is not intuitive, but they didn’t have two teenagers giving them the guided tour. I tried to recreate the same thing for you  . . . minus the exasperated eye rolls.

I do recommend downloading the Snapchat app to your phone and opening it up for the first time before watching the video so that it makes some sort of sense to you.

Also, here are two terms to help you orient yourself as you get started. (You can view more here, but once again, they will not make much sense until you tool around the app a bit.)

  1. Snap: a video or a picture captured and shared on the Snapchat app.
  2. Story: Snaps shared to all of a user’s Snapchat friends are compiled into a series of photos or videos called a Story. Unlike individual Snaps, which disappear almost instantly, Stories stay on the app for 24 hours. The snaps sequentially disappear as they reach their 24 hour expiration marks. Snapchat users may also download their own Stories to keep a permanent record of each day’s events, if desired.

 

Here’s Why I Like Snapchat

Got a teen? Then you should be on Snapchat . . . and not for the reasons you might think. Find out why this mom (spoiler: the mom is me) is on there. Great and easy Snapchat tutorial, too. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

  • It doesn’t last forever. I like to think of them as the telephone conversations of yore. It’s communication in the moment without a trail (and without taking up storage on your phone). While you can replay a Snap, you’d better do it quickly because you only have a minute or two.
  • It is communication on-the-go. While you might annoy your college freshman with a “check-in” call or text while they are in the middle of something, they seem to always be up for sending a goofy face.
  • It shows your interest. Getting on Snapchat should be the opposite of stalking your kids on social media. It’s about fun and showing your kids they’re important enough for you to meet them where they “live.”
  • It lets me know where I am. This was an unexpected bonus. When we were traveling up to Boston University this past spring, I could snap a picture along our way up I-95, swipe right, and the geofilters would tell me exactly where we were. (Note: not all locations have geofilters.) I could also check my husband’s speed without being obvious. Ahem.
Got a teen? Then you should be on Snapchat . . . and not for the reasons you might think. Find out why this mom (spoiler: the mom is me) is on there. Great and easy Snapchat tutorial, too. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Janel Mills (from 649.133 – Girls, the Care and Maintenance Of.) and I definitely already knew we were in Atlantic City. It was just fun to share.

  • It has given me unexpected insights. Back to Boston University. My daughter and I followed the School of Communication “Story” and it made a huge impact on her decision that students were still wearing parkas to class in April. And there was snow on the ground. In April.
  • It has given me cool points. My kids’ friends CANNOT believe I am on Snapchat. Added bonus is that I can stay in touch with them even when they are no longer parading through my house because my daughter is off to college. (The “sob” is implied.)
  • It’s just for me. This point might just pertain to myself and bloggers like me, but this is my only social media account that is not a “platform” for me (although some bloggers are using it that way to fabulous ends like Mommy Shorts.) I can just go on here to play, not create content for the world.

Minor Etiquette Points

  • Inform your teen before jumping on and explain you are doing it to communicate . . . and get the kickin’ filters. My youngest daughter usually blocks me from viewing her story . . . and I’m okay with that. If she wants to send goofy things to her friends (don’t worry, we have the sexting/bullying/strangerdanger talk about ever 52 hours), I don’t have to be a part of it. I liken it to the way I would have felt if my parents listened on the extension to my teenage phone conversations. (Could there be a more 80s sentence than that?)

On the flip side, she is the only one I have a “Snapstreak” with. Once you and a friend have Snapped each other (not Chatted) within 24 hours for more than one consecutive day, you start a “streak” . . . and the pressure builds not to break it. I broke our last one and I’m still hearing about it.

Got a teen? Then you should be on Snapchat . . . and not for the reasons you might think. Find out why this mom (spoiler: the mom is me) is on there. Great and easy Snapchat tutorial, too. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

  • You don’t have to respond to pictures by sending a Chat. One of the reasons often cited for teens’ love of the app is that it reduces the pressure for feedback in terms of “likes” and comments. When sending pictures and videos, teens don’t have to worry about whether their “like count” will indicate their level of popularity like it does on Instagram.

With that being said, my friend, the profoundly talented, outrageously hilarious Rebecca from Frugalista Blog sent me this Chat when I was posting all those Snaps on My Story as examples.

Got a teen? Then you should be on Snapchat . . . and not for the reasons you might think. Find out why this mom (spoiler: the mom is me) is on there. Great and easy Snapchat tutorial, too. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Chats like these are ALWAYS welcome, no matter what any whipper-snapper says. Just know that the pressure is off because people don’t expect you to respond.

  • If you do need to respond to the under-20 set, they will probably expect a Snap back. Either just take a random (often blurry) picture of the floor or wall, and caption your response on it or you can take a selfie of your expression.

Got a teen? Then you should be on Snapchat . . . and not for the reasons you might think. Find out why this mom (spoiler: the mom is me) is on there. Great and easy Snapchat tutorial, too. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

This is not everything by far, but I hope it helps. The biggest takeaway is that if you have teens, you are missing out on a huge way to connect if you are not on Snapchat with them. Also, don’t be afraid to swipe and tap around on the app. You never know what you’ll unlock.

Happy Snapchatting!

-Ellen

 

Hey! Want to buy our new book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

I Just Want to Be Perfect

You can follow us on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

 

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7 Things You Can Do to Get a Kid Ready for College

If you have a high school senior, you are sprinting towards the finish line. You might feel a bit whoozy as you rush from that end-of-year banquet to that awards ceremony while simultaneously planning a graduation party, but buckle up. If you are getting ready to launch your first chick from the nest, this is the roller coaster ride you will be riding all summer. Time certainly feels like it is running out now: time together as a family, time to just enjoy your kid, time to tell your kid everything he needs to know about having a beautiful, safe, happy life, time to just love her in the easy way that is a family. But the truth is that we never stop parenting, it’s just HOW we parent that has to change over the next few years. Here are some things you can do to get a kid ready for college. These ideas will help you all!Parenting a teen after high school? Here are 7 Things You Can Do to get a Kid Ready for College | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

1. Ride the wave.

Let yourself and your kid feel whatever you need to feel. Pride, joy, a sense of loss, apprehension, even grief—all of these emotions might bubble up. Or not. You are an individual and so is your kid.  Just like there is no real compass for how to handle sending your kid off into the great blue yonder we call The College Years, there is no one right way to feel about them leaving either. You can’t help yourself from wanting a way to navigate the vast sea of unknowns and unknowables, but you can help you and yours by being honest about where you are and what you are feeling.

Parenting a teen after high school? Here are 7 Things You Can Do to get a Kid Ready for College | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Are you gonna be able to muster a thumbs up? Or a mopey hug? Either way, it’s OK.

2. Ask for help.

As in all things in parenting, reach out to the those who have traveled this road before, either virtually or in real time. We have made a great booklist to help you, but don’t dismiss the value of the internet and great posts like this one about how to send your firstborn son to college or this perfect guide to college. Sometimes, the short, sweet observations from the road ahead will be just what you need when you need it. Similarly, we think of the ladies over at Grown and Flown as our internet big sisters on this road. They have great posts about nearly every aspect of this next phase of life. Of course, we have a short and simple guide for how you can help your girlfriend send her kid to college too. The bottom line? For some things like sending your kid to college there is no way to go but through it. Just know that you don’t have go it alone.

3. Create a space to come home to.

Special traditions can be a pain with all the planning, time, and expense, but every time Erin made her husband tape up a pinata for Cinco de Mayo or order special treats for their Doctor Who party, she said the same thing: “Kids come home for stuff like this.” We both always wanted to create our own little country that my kids would want to keep visiting. We invested in experiences over things and hoped that not having a pony would pale in comparison to all the happy memories we made. Parenting a teen after high school? Here are 7 Things You Can Do to get a Kid Ready for College | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 4. Be honest about what you need.

 All we parents really want is to have a good relationship with our kids especially as they move up and out. But an 18 year old’s ideas of what that entails differs wildly from his parent’s. Between texting, Facetime, Skype, and Snapchat, there is no end to the ways to stay connected as the miles between you stretch, but a good relationship requires open and honest communication, not just easy access. Tell your kid what you want but tread lightly. Even if you asked him to call you every Sunday, don’t nail him when he doesn’t. Text often and leave the lines of communication open. Then when he goes radio silent on you, hopefully, it won’t be for too long.

Parenting a teen after high school? Here are 7 Things You Can Do to get a Kid Ready for College | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 5. Sit on hands, close mouth, open ears.

Active parenting is over, but actual parenting is not. It is so much easier to say than do, but plan to listen 90% of the time and only offer advice when asked. Young adults need to wrestle through decisions and make their own conclusions. If you want to be the sounding board, start acting like one.  

 6. Set goals and make clear expectations.

Things are gonna get awkward. Someone called freshmen “high schoolers who happen to be in college. ” Your child and his peers won’t have all the life skills figured out by October. Being honest about what they can expect, what we expect, and what we want for them and what they want for themselves will do much to create a positive relationship this year. It’s also a good time to mention that college is not a magical place of unicorns and rainbows. These years are also hard work, crappy roommate drama, and bad food. There are plenty of goods to outweigh the bad, but it’s life and if it’s crappy sometimes, that’s ok today.

Parenting a teen after high school? Here are 7 Things You Can Do to get a Kid Ready for College | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 7. Be flexible.

An open heart and an open mind won’t just benefit everyone, it will make this parenting an adult thing a smoother transition. Vow to be open to talking about your own college experience as well as to hearing that his isn’t great. Vow to ask open-ended questions as well as be ready for answers that you aren’t ready for. Vow to let her follow her own path and to check your own stuff.

Parenting a teen after high school? Here are 7 Things You Can Do to get a Kid Ready for College | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

You CAN do this!

You are about to have one of those summers that can’t be captured in a postcard or photograph. The emotional roller coaster and the super warp speed time travel may be disorienting and draining. But remember: this new hard thing called college may not be as unfamiliar as you might have thought. A lot of this summer is really just getting ready, physically and emotionally. You will need to outfit the perfect college dorm and find bargains to make it all affordable. Let these last steps together bolster your resolve and boost your confidence. You didn’t get through the last eighteen years of parenting without knowing how to rock a back-to-school list. You can do this. You HAVE done this. This can be done. Sending a kid to college may not be as easy as checking off boxes, but it’s just the next phase in this parenting ride you are on with your child. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

-Erin and Ellen

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How to Stay Connected with Your College Kid

We are on a wild ride here at The Sisterhood: The Express Chute to College. It goes from 0 to 600 without any brakes, takes surprise hairpin switchbacks that leave your disoriented for days, swings your emotions from elation to heartbreak on the turn of a dime, and grinds your bank account until it physically hurts . . . but we wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. It’s a blessing, but, oh my goodness, it’s exhausting. Between the two of us, we’ll be on this ride so long we may need a rehabilitation program to adjust us to life without SATs and submitting the Common Application on the regular.

Just so you can be sure to follow along on your scorecard, Erin has five kids–four sons and one daughter–and Ellen has two daughters. Erin kicked this party off by sending her oldest son to college last year, Ellen sends her oldest daughter away in August, Erin follows up the next year with her daughter, then we both get a two year break until “Boom!” Erin sends another son while Ellen sends her youngest daughter for a double graduation year. But wait, there’s more! Literally. Erin has two more sons.

And we’re not going to sugarcoat it, it’s hard adjusting to the shifting dynamics of your family. You almost feel like you need a guide. Luckily Erin wrote one: Handle with Care: A Sweet and Simple Guide to Helping Your Friend Send Her Kid to College. If you need some commiseration or direction, this is it.

But just to cut to the chase, there is one lifeline that will trump all others. Staying connected. We’ve written oodles of advice about keeping the lines of communication open with your kids, BUT . . .

Sometimes it’s not about leaving yourself open to their ideas and opinions.

Sometimes it’s not about leaving your own agenda behind and following their lead.

Sometimes it’s not about keeping your mouth shut and your ears open.

SOMETIMES IT’S ONLY ABOUT THEM HAVING A CHARGE ON THEIR EVERLOVIN’ PHONE WHEN THEY HAVE A MOMENT TO TALK TO YOU.

How to Stay Connected With Your College Kid | How do you stay connected with your child across the miles? Modeling good listening skills is a must, but it may be as easy as making sure their phone is always charged. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Seriously. Sometimes it’s that simple. And what is simply wonderful is that this is one of those moments where blogging has made our parenting easier and better. We have been lucky enough to partner with myCharge several times over the past couple of years, but this time they really came through for us by gifting us the myCharge HubPlus 6000mAh. (By the way, we’re able to gift you with a 40% off coupon code and a chance to win an iPad mini and a HubPlus of your very own, but more on that in a bit, also known as “at the bottom of the post.”)

We’re not even kidding when we say myCharge gave Erin one of the best conversations of her life.

Erin: Since my son went to school 300 miles away, texting has been our connection. There have been some calls and Face Time with the whole family boisterously talking over top of each other as is the dog pile M.O of the Dymowski clan, but calls between just my boy and me have been few and far between. Until The Call.

I hadn’t shared an actual conversation with him since our good-byes as he went back to school after winter break. So while I was pleasantly surprised when HE called me out of the blue, my first words were a panicky “Is everything ok? Are you bleeding?” But he babbled right over my initial nervous blurt, we bantered a little, and then he talked NON-STOP for the better part of an hour. It was Christmas in April, a ticker tape parade, and perfect haircut all rolled up in one! I heard all about his summer internship (which I knew nothing about), his new girlfriend (who I sort of knew about. Thank you, Instagram feed!), his classes (which his sister said were kicking his butt), and his work on the television and radio stations there (which I watched or listened to each week). Never underestimate the power of real spoken words in real time over the airwaves to warm a Mom’s heart and keep the connection going strong.

How to Stay Connected With Your College Kid | How do you stay connected with your child across the miles? Modeling good listening skills is a must, but it may be as easy as making sure their phone is always charged. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

This picture with myCharge was posed when I picked my boy up from school, but the moment myCharge gave me with my son was 100% authentic. We call this one: Call your mother!

Ellen: And remember those hairpin switchbacks we were talking about on The Express Chute to College? My family was thrown for its own loop. Just eight days before a commitment had to be signed, we were visiting the University of Miami–an eleventh hour addition to the Common App. A school that was ultimately added because of its academics and opportunities, but was initially thought of because I asked my daughter to apply to a school in a city that was not a past terrorist target. See, the applications were due just weeks after the Paris bombings and her school choices were all located in either Boston, New York City, or Washington, DC.

So, Miami wasn’t the top choice–at that point, she was pretty set on Boston–so only my daughter and I went down because, well, airfare. But our trip seemed worthwhile from the get-go because our meetings with students and the assistant dean impressed us. And as we texted, snapchatted, instagrammed, facebooked, and tweeted our way through the campus (to keep my husband and family in the loop), my daughter knew this was the one. The joy in her face and voice can still choke me up. And all I could think of was “I can’t believe this is the one Frank missed after going all over the East Coast.”

I told her, “You have to call your father and explain to him how this feels to you. Texting is not enough”

And I’m not even kidding, because of myCharge she could. Snapchat can kill a battery.

She dialed her dad for an actual conversation which is almost like spotting a unicorn except more rare.

How to stay connected with your college kid? Modeling good listening skills is a must, but it may be as easy as making sure their phone is always charged. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

And they talked . . .

How to stay connected with your college kid? Modeling good listening skills is a must, but it may be as easy as making sure their phone is always charged. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 And talked.

How to stay connected with your college kid? Modeling good listening skills is a must, but it may be as easy as making sure their phone is always charged. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Because we had the battery power, her Dad was able to share in the magical moment, I was able to take pictures of the whole thing, we were able to continue using Google maps to get us around, and we both never missed a beat on social media. Did I mention my daughter and I both fully charged our phones off of a single HubPlus charge??

But enough about us! Let’s talk about what you can get! If you’re a US resident you can enter to win your own iPad mini and HubPlus! We’ve been talking about all that it has done for us phone-wise–like extending talk time by a whooping 45 hours–but this baby is so powerful it can charge an iPad! And no cords to lose! The wall prongs, micro-USB cable, and Apple® Lightning™ cable are all fully integrated. And one of our favorite features is the pass through charging. You can plug this into the wall, plug in your device and the powerbank and connected device will charge simultaneously. We never knew how much this was missing from our lives until MyCharge introduced us to it.

How to stay connected with your college kid? Modeling good listening skills is a must, but it may be as easy as making sure their phone is always charged. myCharge HubPlus can help. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Even if you don’t win the giveaway or unable to enter because you’re not a US resident, you can still come out on top.

Go here to myCharge, enter promo code CONGRATS and receive 40% off your very own HubPlus! (The code is valid until the end of June 2016.) There is free shipping on all orders over $25. These would make swell graduation or Father’s Day gifts!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and stay in touch!

Ellen and Erin

We were compensated for this post, but all love for our college kids and this product are genuinely our own.

You can follow us on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

 

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