Moving Out: Breaking Away from Parents
As you begin your first year of school, you’re feeling excited, anxious, and a whole slew of other emotions. Even knowing this, there are some things that are bound to sneak up on you, like getting sick with nobody to make soup or buy you Gatorade; having to share your important decisions with strangers; having a relationship with your parents through your iPhone. (FaceTime is great and all, but it’s just not the same.)
While we’re living at home, we don’t always realize the important role our parents play in our overall comfort. We spend too much time fighting over curfews and chores, without realizing how much different our independent college lifestyle will be. Here are a few tips to help you survive the transition away from mom and dad.
Related: 4 Simple Ways to Gain Independence
We always hear the stories shining a very positive light on the “best four years of your life.” But college can be a very lonely time for many people, especially those that are very close to their parents and siblings at home. To keep this from sneaking up on you, make sure you contact your parents on a regular basis. Make Sundays the days you call or Skype them and fill them in with the details of your life.
You can often talk to your parents about things that you can’t necessarily share with dorm strangers, and they’ll feel good that you’re keeping them in the loop. (I especially recommend directing any and all complaints about your roommate to your parents rather than divulging these issues to friends on campus.)
Cleaning Up After Yourself
Whether you spent your life doing chores or not, when you don’t have someone telling you to clean up after yourself, it’s easy to let your bedroom fall into disarray — complete with a hoarder’s supply of empty pizza boxes and drink containers.
If you’ve got a roommate, you should definitely make it a point to put dirty clothes in the hamper, throw garbage in the trash, and pull the cover up over your bed so it looks halfway “made.” Believe me, these three things will make a gigantic difference in the appearance of cleanliness. And for you boys, it will also make a difference when ladies come to call.
Eating for Your Health
When the cats away, the mice will play, right? Much like kids sneaking candy, recently independent college freshmen like to binge on pizza, beer, and Easy Mac when they get away from daily family meals. Here’s a tip: don’t do that!
Sure, there’s no such thing as homemade meals when you’re living the dorm life, but part of responsible independent living is learning how to feed yourself healthy food. Include a piece of fruit with every breakfast, opt for the salad bar 4 times a week, and avoid fried foods as much as possible.
Related: 5 Tips for Better Eating Habits
Doing Your Homework
No more mom telling you to sit down and do your homework the second you walk into the house after school,practice, or work. No more treats for good report cards and awards for perfect attendance. Maybe you didn’t realize it at the time, but there’s a certain amount of motivation associated with work when you have to share your successes and failures with the parents.
Well, it’s time for you to learn how to develop discipline on your own. You can definitely still share your successes and failures with them if you want, but you should first figure out how to stay on top of your classes on your own. Set up a schedule for your studying, try to battle the procrastinator within, and make study dates with others so you’re more motivated to stick to it.
Paying for Your Fun
Not that we all had mom and dad dropping $20 into our pockets every weekend or anything, but there was always the potential to hit them up when necessary. Now that you’re away in college, it’s not really an option. In fact, it really shouldn’t be an option, since you’re trying to break away.
It’s easy to become somewhat financially stable when you’re in college. Most college towns have cafes, restaurants, bookstores, and call centers that hire students for as little as 3 hours per week. These flexible schedules make it a piece of cake for college kids to make $50 a week. That’s just enough money for school supplies, coffee, and partying.
Make it a point to support yourself as much as you can and your later transition into the job world won’t smack you in the face with reality. Much to your parents’ dismay, by Thanksgiving you’ll be thinking, “Mom who?”
Related: 7 Money Tips for College Students
Editor’s Note: If your parents are not supportive of your independent lifestyle , let’s hope you don’t have to go as far as Aubrey Ireland did to achieve independence. She won a stalking protection order against her “helicopter parents” late last year after her parents’ involvement in her life became too much for the 21-year-old to handle.
Image: Lafayette College