Keeping it real: freshman college move in day

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It is starting to get real, people: college move in day is roughly 40 days away for most of us. I know--40 days?!?! It will fly by so I thought this was a good time to check in and talk about unrealistic expectations on move in day. 

Move in day is a biggie--it marks the official beginning of the college freshman transition process as well as forces you to start letting go of your college freshman. Whew! That is a lot.

College move in day is not always Instagramable

It is no secret that social media seeps into our daily lives and therefore, our mindset. After months of perusing new college parent Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram pages and poring over awesome blogs like this one, you probably have a picture in your head of what your child’s college move-in day will look like.

freshman college move in
This. Is. Not. Realistic.

Let’s dissect this typical image that is supposed to depict that joyous day--college move-in. Here we go…

A: First of all, that box is totally empty. Notice how she is effortlessly maneuvering it with a broad smile on her face? Not realistic. Our boxes, IKEA bags, and the like were crammed full and super heavy.

B: Um, don’t pack your lampshades like this, they will never survive the trip.

C: Back to our student...doesn’t she look happy? Stress-free? I adore my daughter but she didn’t have this expression on her face when we were loading the car that Saturday morning last August. Hers was more a mixture of excitement, nervousness and irritation with her brother who was sitting next to her in the back seat. More on that later.

D: Mom. There’s a lot going on here. I want to point out that I don’t think I have ever stood in this position. Hand on hip, leaning cooly on the doorframe, and doing something very pose-y with her legs. Hey, maybe I should because the few pics there are of me on my daughter’s move-in day are a trainwreck.

E. Dad. He’s loving life. Not only does he not have to help the daughter load the van, he’s got his hand on Mom’s rear end. Empty nest, here we come! And I am digging his snazzy Easter morning outfit. For the record,  I didn’t see any parents dressed like these two on move-in day. You were much more likely to see shorts, Ohio State t-shirts, and sweat stains as August move-ins in most of this country are hotter than hell.

Bonus: Is it just me or is that mini-van pulled right up to the door? Because if it is, smart move. We lugged our daughter’s stuff a lot farther than that to load up. 

Bottom line here, do not expect your move in day to look like Instagram. They will not look like Instagram. At all.

Expect the unexpected on college move in day

I think I have mentioned before on this site that I am a type-A planner. Because of that, we had all of my daughter’s things lined up in the hallway near the garage door the night before move-in and they had been pre-packed and then unpacked into the back of our Jeep to make sure everything fit. 

[Why didn’t we just leave everything in the Jeep overnight you ask? Well, what if that was the one night that someone broke into our car in the driveway and swiped those carefully selected twinkle lights, new bath towels, etc.? In addition to being a type-A planner, I am also a worrier. What can I say?]

The big morning arrives and we load up the Jeep. Excitement is in the air and we are running on sheer adrenalin. I check the gas only to realize I had missed a critical step. We only had a quarter tank--not enough to get us to Columbus. A minor setback! I drove to our neighborhood gas station (four minutes away) to fill up. 

I shoved the gas pump nozzle in, my mind swirling with the emotions of the day. Only, it wouldn’t go in. At all. I tried everything and that damn thing would not work! Conscious of the minutes ticking by and worried that we would miss our move-in window, I gave up and drove home. Time for Plan B.

Arriving home, I called the troops downstairs to unload everything that had fit so perfectly in the Jeep and re-load it in the trunk of my four-door sedan. Yeah, that didn’t fit so perfectly. After much cursing and sweating, we ended up with all of her things crammed in the trunk and a fair amount of overflow squeezed in the backseat between my freshman and her 15-year old brother. It was a scene.

We told each other that morning that we would laugh about it later and we have. We got to Ohio State on time (early even), all of her dorm necessities made it, and we had a great story to remember.

So, if your move in morning doesn’t start off on the right foot, don’t worry. Everything is going to work out.

Keep those expectations realistic, parents and enjoy the ride. We’re all in this together.

college move in
On our way!

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