When we’re new moms, immersed in the thick of newborn and baby care, connecting with our infants faces certain challenges. Hormones, sleep deprivation and overwhelm can make it a challenge to connect. But love prevails. Our hearts and souls are invisibly bonded to those of our babies, and love nourishes that connection.
As with our babies, it can also be a challenge to connect with our college kids. Maybe more of a challenge. Not only is our relationship with them deeper and more complex, but usually there is physical distance added to the mix. Here are 7 ideas that – from personal experience – should help you in this business of reconnecting and staying connected.
7 Ways To Stay Connected To Your College Kids
- Communicate! My kids and I text a lot – this is the easiest way to stay in touch without having to engage in long conversations or even both be available at the same time. Plus, some topics are more comfortably broached in writing first, especially if this is a conversation originating from your child. But don’t forget to have real voice-to-voice phone conversations, or even Face-Time talks. These video calls almost makes it feel like we’re with our kids. Almost.
- WHAT we talk about matters. It’s a blessing when they reach out about the big stuff – like when they’re overwhelmed with homework, having trouble finding “their people”, feeling homesick, are actually sick, etc. This reaffirms that they trust us and know we will support them, be it by just listening (sometimes they need to vent) or by offering advice (if they want it). But the little stuff counts too. Just sharing random details about their days – like how the dining hall had their favorite French toast for breakfast or they had an awesome workout at the gym or enjoyed a Zumba class with their friend – goes a long way to nurturing the connection between us. We can, and should, share these kinds of little things about our days, because a true bond has to be nurtured from both ends.
- Get to know their world – visit your college kids, and not on Parent’s Weekend, if possible. Spending quality time together in their home away from home, meeting their friends and eating at their favorite restaurants all help us to feel a part of their lives. This lets them feel that we are sharing in and understand this new part of their world.
- CARE Packages – They’re called care packages for a reason. Regardless of their contents, the act of sending anything brings with it the love from our hearts into the hearts of our kids. I try to time my care packages to arrive during stressful times for my kids. This could be in time for study week before midterms or finals, or when they are feeling lonely or sad.
- Food/Treats! – It’s no secret that college students don’t always eat the most healthily. Pasta, little-to-no fruits and veggies, pizza or Taco Bell are not what healthy diets are made of. This is where modern conveniences can be extra-appreciated. There are a number of meal delivery services – Postmates, Door Dash, Grubhub, to name a few – that will deliver healthy (and not-so-healthy, when that’s preferred) meals right to our students. And when a late-night study treat will help lift their spirits, most campuses have cookie-delivery shops (ours has Insomnia Cookies) that will deliver warm cookies to fuel our students through their work.
- Take Family Vacations – Getaways don’t have to be extravagant…they just have to be a dedicated block of quality time away from all stress and responsibilities, together as a family. We’ve been taking family vacations since our kids were very little. For years we went to Orlando and stayed at affordable VRBO townhomes near Disney, and were able to enjoy the sun, a manageable amount of Disney Park time and just being together creating memories. In recent years, we’ve adapted our getaways to accommodate the interests of our teens/college kids (and a husband who was wanting something new). Taking family vacations creates space to reconnect with our college kids, allows us to build precious new memories that will strengthen the bond between us and fill us with joy for years to come.
- Little Moments and Adventures – Staying connected is easier when we have cherished shared experiences and memories. Bigger experiences, like vacations, are wonderful. But little moments are just as meaningful. For example, my daughter and I love to relax with coffee at our favorite coffee shop and chat about whatever comes to mind, or nothing at all. My son and I have a series we’ve been watching since before he left for college, and we catch up with it whenever he is home for a weekend or break. Adventures don’t have to be big excursions or extreme sports. My daughter and I love to go on “Target Adventures,” which is any spontaneous “let’s go to Target even though we don’t need to buy anything” outing. Usually at night, and usually in our pajamas. It’s been a while, but my son and I would go to Superdawg (Burger and Hot Dog drive-in) and eat hot dogs and fries in the car. Adventures like these are just plain fun, and the memories of them keep us connected when we’re apart.
Staying connected all comes down to continuing to invest in our relationships with our children, in meaningful ways. When we make these efforts, we show that we care and we show our love. The dividends we receive include the blessing of strong, everlasting relationships with our big kids and young adults.
Sydnei Kaplan is Mom to Mia (21) and Ben (19), wife to David. She left a marketing career when Mia made her a mom and never looked back. Along the way she discovered her soul’s true calling and found joy not just in raising her own children, but in supporting friends along their journeys. Currently she works part-time in a preschool and rediscovered her passion for writing at Mom in the Moment, her recently launched blog.
Blog – https://www.mom-in-the-moment.com
Facebook – @sydnei.in.the.moment
Instagram – @mom_inthemoment
Twitter – @Mom_intheMoment