What You Need to Consider When Sending Your Teen Off to Uni

Val Watson
Authored by Val Watson
Posted Thursday, June 8, 2023 - 8:24am

Your teenager going to Uni is a big adventure for them, and if they have been looking for independence for a while now, it will probably be a welcome break for you, too. If you go to Uni yourself, you will know that it is not as simple as packing a bag and going (despite what they may think), and as a parent, of course, you want them to get off to the best start possible.

They will, of course, have a major say in what does and doesn't happen. However, they won't have thought of everything; and there are some simple practical and logistical issues that you will need to get on top of, to make sure things go smoothly at what can be a very stressful time for everyone involved.

#1 Make sure you get the move right

They might already have a vehicle of their own, but it probably won't be able to fit everything they need - especially if their chosen course happens to be something creative like music or art. This might mean using all of the family cars or hiring a van for the initial move. What they will need to take will vary on whether they are starting off in halls or a rented room, and what is provided for them already.

So, you will need to plan what they can take from home and what is cheaper or more practical to buy when they are up there. For instance, the single divan bed they had at home will be trouble to transport in most family cars, but a flat pack bed and mattress can be sourced at the local Ikea or Argos for very little money, and it only has to last them a couple of years.

#2 Make sure they can feed themselves

Once they have a roof over their heads, the next concern is about what they are going to eat. Student diets are notoriously poor, and this, of course, has links to poor academic performance and health in general. While you don't want them to miss out on the occasional alcohol-inspired kebab purchase, you can do what you can to ensure they look after themselves the rest of the time.

Teach them a few basic recipes

You might well have started them young on this, but if you didn't, you could teach them a few basic recipes in quite a short time. A good starting point is to teach them how to make British versions of a bolognese sauce for pasta, a simple curry, and a chili. These can be eaten with rice, pasta, or bread and can be made, for the most part, from store cupboard ingredients.

Bulk cooking

These recipes can also be made by the pot load, so they will only have to cook every few days. The rest can be put in the fridge or frozen for some time in the future. Additionally, if living in a shared house, they could occasionally cook meals for others, which, as you might remember from your own time at Uni will put them in everyone's good, books, especially when it comes to trips to the bar. Either way, they are a much healthier alternative to takeout food or the various noodle options, and they take just as long to heat up in a microwave as it does to boil a kettle.

Ensure they have enough essential ingredients

To do this, they will need the right ingredients, preferably in bulk. As you might remember from your own days at Uni, you probably went shopping maybe twice a year, which meant a trip to the fridge was often a voyage of discovery and disappointment. To avoid this, you can stock them up with most of the tinned or dried supplies they need from reliable suppliers like Olam Spices, who can provide dried garlic, onions, and spices to name just a few. These will all have a long shelf life, and, if bought in bulk, can help to feed an entire student house much more cheaply than the fast food alternatives.

#3 Make sure you stay in touch

While making sure they can fend for themselves is important, at the same time, you don't want them to feel like you are abandoning them. Of course, once you have left them up (or down) there for the first time, you might find that after fresher's week and making the most of their independence, it might be weeks before they get in contact again or get around to answering your messages.

Luckily, it will be much easier than when you might have been at Uni, as there are now mobile phones that you can talk and text on as part of a monthly plan, and of course, Skype and Zoom. After their initial 'bedding in' period and they know when their lectures are and when they are free, it might be an idea to have a set evening or afternoon when you call and catch up. What is important is that you don't make demands on their time, and you work it out amicably as you are now all adults.

#4 Other considerations

You should also book their vehicle, no matter how old it happens to be, for a once-over at the local garage before they leave. This can give both you and them peace of mind that avoidable breakdowns have been removed from the equation, and there is less chance of them being stranded miles away from home.

You should also get them to think about TV licensing and what the arrangement is where they are going, as they might not be aware of the law, and a fine can leave a big hole in student finances.

A few final thoughts

Your teen going to Uni is the end of an era for both of you. Apart from any emotional issues that need to be addressed, you also need to look at what you can do practically to help your teen, especially if it hasn't occurred to them to do it themselves. If planned properly, it can be seen as helping and not interfering, and give you peace of mind as well as give them a good start to their first time away from home.

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