You’ve sent your kid (and your money) to college, to live outside the nest by themselves for the first time. One minute you were changing diapers and (oops… you blinked!) the next you are moving them into a dorm room. Just like everything else in parenting, you’ve got to remain flexible. You can read all the “Preparing your Kid for College” books and take all the advice that your online support groups will give you, but there will always be mini-emergencies popping up and throwing you for a loop in that first year…well, actually, every year.
You’ve drafted lists longer than a pharmaceutical insert. You’ve checked things off, added new items and shopped some more–without the help of your uninterested (and a bit ungrateful) college bound young adult. No one would blame you for wondering if he’ll survive without someone to pick up his dirty laundry and that never ending display of empty red bull cans.
But it’s inevitable. There will be something that you either forgot to pack or something that never made it onto any of your 83 lists.
Child Care for your College Kiddo
If you are a savvy parent/aunt/uncle/cousin/grandparent, you’ve already invested greatly in your young college buddy’s experience. But you aren’t done yet. No matter how many checks you’ve already written, you’ll want to set aside a sizable budget for a box of survival items (or 92) that will make their college experience a little more ahhhhhh and a little less uh oh.
Thank goodness for Care Packages. There are lots of apps and services now that will remind you when it’s time to demonstrate a little love with greeting cards and gifts on every occasion (who knew there was National Appreciation for Bubble Wrap Day?)
And of course, there are services that make sending out these gifts super easy (Hi! Have we met?), but if you are looking to build your own care packages, we’ve compiled a list of things your child is SURE to need, but will not know it until it arrives – along with absurd things they will ask you for – that you can’t imagine they will ever need. But whatevs. Their wish is your command. (You’ve been meaning to stop that for years… but why quit now?)
Bed Bath and Beyond Needed
If you feel like making it interesting, you can always play “What My Kid Forgot” Bingo with your other college parent friends, or you can just throw it in the box that was making its way over to her dorm anyway. The following is a list of items that will be a huge benefit to them… so much… they will forget to thank you for it the moment there is a need:
- First-aid kit – Because accidents.
- Over-the-counter medications – Because hangovers.
- Earplugs – As a peace offering to his roommate who will never get any sleep living with your son who sleeps as if he swallowed an elephant.
- Face masks – Because COVID.
- Flashlight – When they remember they have it in a drawer somewhere they will wish they had remembered it earlier. Never fails.
- Scissors – Remind them not to run with them. It will keep you up at night if you don’t.
- A roll of quarters – Because laundromats still accept them and so do most vending machines. Trust us, they will get used.
- Extra phone charger – Because there should never be an excuse for them not to have gotten your voicemails. Or your texts. Or your emails. Or…. Oh, forget it… you can always just drive over to check on them. It’s only a few states away. (Don’t forget the phone charger.)
- Batteries – EVERY size.
- Beach towel – Because water fights in the hallway on the 3rd floor.
- Clorox wipes – Because it’s nice to imagine they may actually use them.
- Duct tape – We can think of a million things they can use this for, but the truth is it will get used in a million ways you never thought of.
- Sewing kit – You may want to show them how to sew on a button before they leave.
- Binder clips – If not used to stay organized, they can be used to preserve an opened bag of chips.
- Can opener – For many of the food items that we’ve listed in the next section.
- Swimsuit – Because it’s good to be prepared. Not everything should be spontaneous.
- Extra zip drives – No one can ever have enough.
- Umbrella – She will have forgotten to pack it. Guaranteed.
- Extra set of sheets – Because you’d like to think they will change them once in a while.
- Packs of Underwear and Socks – These items are always the first items to end up missing. You don’t want to know and they won’t have an answer anyway. Don’t ask. Just send.
- Hangers – Another courtesy item for his roommate. Unless he also enjoys hanging his clothes on the floor.
- Paper plates – Because Pizza.
- Paper towels – Because someone’s always leaving an open can of something laying around.
- Plastic utensils – Because Ramen.
- Garbage Bags – Because it will make it easier to empty the can once in a while.
- Comfy stretch pants with a drawstring – Because Pizza. Oh puleeeeze. Someone had to say it. The Freshman 15 is practically a rite of passage. (If your college student is female, tread lightly.)
- Deck of Cards – Because poker.
- Dry erase board – To leave messages on when friends stop by… at 3am.
- Flip Flops – Because public restrooms.
- Stain Remover Wipes – Because you know your kid.
- Eyeglass repair kit – Because it’s better than using duct tape. (Just because you can use duct tape to fix things doesn’t mean you should.)
- Stamps – They could come in handy someday.
- Stapler – Because someone took theirs.
- Thumbtacks – Because the dorm room walls need decor.
- Scotch tape – Because someone took theirs.
- Mini tool kit – Because stuff breaks.
- Ziplock bags – Because ants.
- Sunscreen – Because skin cancer.
- Bug spray – Because bugs. The ones outside. You hope there isn’t a trail of ants in their room. Hence the ziplock bags.
- Extra school supplies – Because college.
Will Study for Food
Just like when they were living at home and you did your best to have healthy foods to snack on in the house, you’ll send healthy snacks to their dorm to keep them from visiting the quicki-mart for chips and a pack of twinkies, or ordering pizza every night, even though you paid for an on-campus cafeteria pass.
As you know, there is value to keeping a healthy lifestyle (refer to #26 above), and there will also be a big need for comfort food. But we are talking about your kids, not you, right now. (Yes, we know there is a carb assault that happens to parents in a midlife crises, but there are other blogs for that. Back to this…)
The Ultimate List of Care Package Food Items:
- Herbal Teas (Just kidding) We meant Hot Chocolate Packs.
- Fruit (Just kidding) We meant Ramen Noodles.
- Chex Mix
- Vitamin C
- Kind Bars
- Breath mints
- Gummy Bears
- Beef Jerky
- Peanut Butter
- Canned Goods – Chicken, Tuna, Beans, Soup
- Dried Fruit and nuts
- Instant Oatmeal
- Instant Cup o’ Noodles
- Saltine Crackers
- Pack of Lifesavers
- Microwave popcorn
Items for Girls
- Tampons, panty liners and feminine products – Because she will absolutely run out of them and you don’t want her being the girl that is always borrowing and never contributing.
- Scented body spray – Because it’s nice to smell lovely.
- Clear nail polish – Because it can be used for everything. In fact, why don’t you send her a list of life hacks for clear nail polish? It couldn’t hurt.
- Nail Polish remover – Someone will have inevitably borrowed hers and forgotten to return it.
- Cotton balls or Cotton Rounds – Shall we send you a list of uses?
- Facial Mud Mask – Just in case she doesn’t have plans one night. It’s a good excuse. Just sayin.
- An extra sweater – Because you can’t NOT tell her to take one when she goes anywhere at all. Doesn’t she realize it’s in our DNA?
- Chocolate – Because you can’t send ice cream.
- Food Delivery Gift Cards – Because you can send Uber Eats.
- Razors – Because if you don’t she will use the same one all semester…or, not at all.
Items for Guys
- Frisbee – Because we’re sure no one thought of that.
- Deodorant – Because if he runs out, he won’t care.
- Febreze – Because you smelled his room for 18 years and you can only imagine what it smells like now that there are 2 of them.
- Razors – Because if you don’t he will come home looking like a caveman.
- Fidget Toys – Because he studies better when he has something to play with.
- Extra T-shirt for laundry day – Because it is better than turning a filthy one inside out.
- Food Delivery Gift Cards – Because they’ve run out of frozen pizza.
- Beer money – We meant cash, but we weren’t born yesterday.
- Floss – Hey, it can’t hurt to try.
- A framed picture of you holding him as a baby – Just kidding. We don’t want to torture him too much.
Is this all there is?
Not even close. But It’s all we could think of.
And it’s not like you won’t be doing Google searches about what to put in a college gift box every week. (We aren’t stupid. We know that’s how you found us.) But the best advice we can give you is not to lose sleep over this. After all, sleep may be the one thing you can look forward to after 18 years. Remember, there is no need to worry – until there is – and you won’t know it until the situation becomes dire. (Check the weekly weather report where they are… that’s all we’re sayin’.)
One last thing, parents: have fun decorating the box, and don’t forget to include a note about how lonely and miserable you are since they left for college. (Too soon? Sorry. We’ll spare you the jokes. For now.)
Looking to send a bit of support to your college student? Browse our options and chat with our online gifting specialist to get started.