Congrats! You raised a child who was officially admitted to an accredited institution of higher education. But the parenting doesn’t stop there. Oh no, you have four (or possibly five or so) glorious years of vaguely concerning phone calls, panicked texts, and surprise holiday guests (“Mom, I told you FIVE MILLION TIMES Jessica was coming to Thanksgiving dinner!”) ahead of you.
You might not be prepared, but you can make sure they are, with these top 5 things that will actually result in heartfelt thank yous. We know, uncharted territory.
5 – A super thick mattress pad. It’s no secret that college dorm beds aren’t the best for back or sleep health. In addition to the bed bug-proof mattress protector, throw in a plush mattress pad. It’s something students will never buy for themselves but will serve as a gentle reminder every night that they have the best parents.
4 – A portable charger. You know they’re going to have some late nights studying at the library (a likely story) or crashing on a friend’s couch (a likelier story?). Outlets are hard to come by and so is the short-term memory required to think about grabbing a charging cord during the sprint out the door at 7:59 a.m. Opt for one that lives in their bag or backpack of choice.
3 – A first aid kit. We’ve all heard of man-flu, but have you heard of college student-flu? It’s even worse, a coagulation of snot and headaches punctuated by a total lack of knowledge about what medicine their parents have been giving them since they were knee-high to a grasshopper. DayQuil who? Vick’s what? They can’t make it to the drugstore. They’re DYING. Jeez.
2 – Headphones. We’re not talking about just any headphones. We’re talking about the royalty of the headphone world: wireless and noise canceling. Perfect for dealing with noisy roommates, getting into deep dive study mode, ignoring their 15th morning alarm. Wireless, of course, for shoving into backpacks and sprinting to class across campus.
And the No. 1 thing parents should buy for their new college students … a Netflix/Hulu/HBO/Spotify/streaming service subscription of their choice. Your kids are probably already subscribed to some of these things and maybe you already pay for them. But the last thing college kids want to spend their limited funds on is a monthly subscription. Let them enjoy their downtime guilt-free by taking that $12.99 per month off their bank account. Look out for special deals – Spotify, for example, offers a $5 a month premium plan that includes Hulu – and be awarded “coolest parent ever” status among your children and all their friends.
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