Helping Your Son or Daughter Move Into Their First Apartment

The new school year is just around the corner. For many college-aged kids, this is the time when they begin to shop for and move into apartments. Sometimes this is the first time they’ve ever been away from home and living on their own. As their parent, you want to support them in this big move while also helping to foster their independence. Here are some tips for making moving day as seamless as possible.

Move Boxes; Don’t Unpack

Finding the line between being a supportive parent and being a helicopter parent can be tricky. When it comes to helping your son or daughter move into their first apartment, you definitely want to help with the physical moving process. This includes loading their stuff into—and out of—your car and helping them assemble and place large furniture pieces.

However, at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that this is their apartment and they need to feel free to design and organize it the way they want. Put their furniture where they want it, not where you would put it, and leave their boxes alone. It’s their job to unpack, and doing so will help impress upon them that the apartment is their space, not yours.

Get Their Bed Ready

One thing you can unpack is the bedsheets. A wise woman once told me that the first thing you should do when you move is make the bed: That way, when you’re tuckered out for the day, you can crawl into bed without having to do one more thing. This is a nice thing that you can do for your son or daughter without interfering with their ability to put their own touch on the room.

Offer the Basics

Just as you would give a housewarming gift to someone moving into their first home, it’s entirely appropriate to give a small gift to your son or daughter. Chances are you’ve already provided plenty, from hand-me-down furniture to the clothes on their backs. On move-in day, the thing they’ll appreciate more than anything is a bag full of the basic day-to-day items they’re likely to have forgotten. This may include toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, plastic silverware, and non-perishable foods like Ramen noodles and peanut butter, all of which can help them get through the first week while they’re still getting their feet beneath them.

Another great option is to order them a box of pizza as your walking out the door. As it has been for years, food may well be the way to their hearts (and the hearts of their roommates), and ordering take-in gives you one last chance to feed them while also freeing them from having to cook a meal while they’re still in the midst of unpacking.

Leave the Apartment

The most important step to helping your son or daughter move into their first apartment is also the hardest. When you’ve gotten all their furniture and boxes into the apartment, it’s time to leave. Don’t overstay your welcome this time. They need to feel the silence of being on their own, and you need to give them space. You can always come back for a visit after they’ve had time to unpack and get their bearings, but for now, your actions should say, even more than your words, that you understand their newfound adulthood and respect it.