Updated: Sep 10
So the results are (finally) in and you’re now on countdown to the university send off – time for some Trainee Adulting to start!
Starting uni this year is going to be different to normal, some universities have pushed back start dates, others are taking lectures online and Freshers Week.. well let’s wait and see. With all this going on in addition to the typical leaving home nerves now’s the time to make sure that you’ve covered all the basics with your sons & daughters so that they have one less thing to worry about. Even if they only take in a third of what you tell them congratulations they are better prepared than they originally were!
STUDENT COOKING 101
Some 18 year olds are completely at home in the kitchen whilst others wouldn’t know where the oven is! I recommend spending some time making sure that they’re able to make a few basic meals to make sure they don’t blow their first terms student loan on Deliveroos.
We did a crash cookery course with my eldest the week before he left for uni – covering everything you can do with an egg as well as some favourite pasta dishes. I wrote them all down in a word document so he had something to refer back to if he got stuck!
BBC Good Food is a great place to start for basic recipes and you can save them to a Pinterest board rather than write them all down. That way they can call up the Spag Bol recipe on their phones when they are cooking.
If your son/daughter doesn’t have a linen basket in their bedroom, put one in there now and get them washing their own clothes. My son recalls going into the shared laundry room in his uni accommodation and seeing a couple of girls looking completely confused – they had no idea what to do.
A couple of weeks practice at home, separating the whites from colours, using the machine and deciding whether things go in the tumble dryer or not will really help remove one worry when they’re away.
We received Whatsapp messages for the first month of uni with pictures of striped T-shirts asking “white or colours wash?"!
Some university halls use an app for their laundry rooms. You just have to load up the machine, turn it on and go back to your room. The app tells you when your washing is ready - no more sitting around the laundry.
Top Tip: Every student needs a clothes airer in their room, it’s a no brainer to take one with you.
It’s not the most exciting conversation to have but it’s absolutely necessary if that student loan is going to last longer than Freshers Week. The move away from home and having to pay for everything is a new concept for most students and many slip up in the first term by spending too much money on socialising, UBERS, ASOS orders.
Give them a helping hand by working out how much they have to spend each week.
· ADD the student maintenance grant and any top ups (Mum & Dad, bursaries etc)
· DIVIDE this by the number of weeks in a term (remember to include the holidays).
· SUBTRACT the weekly rent
· SET ASIDE a weekly food budget (£20/25 – includes takeaway pizzas).
· REMEMBER you need to buy text books (could be £200!) and put something aside to cover rail/coach fare for trips home.
WHAT'S LEFT is the weekly budget for going out as well as ASOS, Amazon and Pretty Little Thing orders.
Top Tip: You can usually pick up second hand books from second year students which is a great way to save some money.
OPEN A STUDENT BANK ACCOUNT
Make sure to shop around for the freebies & overdraft facilities that best suit their needs (currently Santander are offering a free 4 year 16-25 railcard, Natwest an Amazon Student gift card or coach card). and don’t forget to take confirmation of the university place from UCAS when you go to open the new account.
One for the parents - check whether your household insurance also covers your children whilst they are in university accommodation, if not you’ll need to take out contents cover for the university accommodation (to protect phones/laptops/possessions whilst they are in the student accommodation).
WHAT TO TAKE TO UNIVERSITY
As soon as possible start a packing list and write things down as you need them (I use the Notes App on my phone). Don’t fall in to the trap of taking everything from their bedroom at home – the room they’re moving into will be small with a bed (check accommodation details for the size), a desk, chair and limited cupboard space.
Although it may feel like it, they aren’t moving out of home and will most likely be visiting home within a month so you can pick up things you may have forgotten about. In true KonMari style, I advise if they don’t love it, haven’t worn it or used it for the last year (and don’t need it for their course or accommodation) don’t let it take up valuable car space!
Take a quick look at my What To Take To University packing checklist (this can be printed here).
My top tips from the list are:
· Check your accommodation details about what comes with your room
· Take 2 sets of bedding (don’t underestimate drying time on a clothes airer)
· Take 2 sets of plates, cutlery and glasses just in case you have friends to stay (or to cover breakages).
· Make sure you take winter clothes with you – it gets cold and darker very quickly in the Autumn term.
We did a big IKEA shop before my son left for uni 3 years ago and managed to get everything in one go. There were loads of other students doing the same thing so you may want to time your visit to make sure it’s not too busy when you go.
Finally, Barney the cockapoo decided he wanted to come with us when we moved our son in to halls of residence but we left him at home. It’s a busy emotional day dropping off your child (I blubbed most of the way home) so you’re going to want to focus on them rather than deal with your dog stealing the attention!
I'm a Professional Organiser trained by Marie Kondo - if you'd like to know more about decluttering & organising your home take a look at my other posts.
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