Moving into your first apartment is a milestone. It’s no less a milestone when it’s your child who is moving into theirs. But when you’re the parent there are other emotions that will come into play. Here’s our story and some practical tips to help you survive moving your child into their first apartment.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy for details.
Our moving story
We moved Butterfly back to college and into her first apartment recently. It was an exciting time for her and one she’d been looking forward to for months.
I, on the other hand, had different feelings about it.
I’ll admit that I also was a little excited. I couldn’t help remembering how excited I was to be moving out of a college dormitory and into my own first apartment. I felt like I’d finally arrived on the doorstep of adulthood. The feeling was exhilarating as I contemplated the future before me. Everything seemed new and the world was full of opportunity.
But that was then.
All these years later, the unbridled optimism of youth has been beaten out of me by the hard realities of life. Time, experience, and hardship has a way of just smacking you between the ears and extinguishing that enthusiasm you felt when the world was new and just waiting for you to conquer it.
But no mother wants to rain on their child’s parade.
So we picked out dishes, pots and pans, a shower curtain and bath accessories and other goodies. We ordered a sleek new computer desk and day bed in chic black to coordinate with her new roommate. And it was exciting.
But it was also scary as hell – for me.
The first day of moving was exhausting. We were ready to drop and more than ready to check into our hotel, but when it came time to actually leave her there at the apartment – without us – my heart lodged in my throat.
I gave the usual warnings to keep the door locked, use the peephole, be aware of strangers – all the mom stuff that she’s come to expect – but it didn’t make me feel one bit better as we turned and walked away.
Would my baby be safe here? Would she get along well with the new roommates? Would she be as cautious as I wanted her to be when she was alone or when out after dark? What if something happened to her? I found myself overcome with fear and worry.
She assured me that she knew what to do and would take all the precautions I’d been teaching all these years.
Somehow it didn’t make me feel one bit better.
But we left. And it felt strangely like I was abandoning my child. While I realize that sounds melodramatic, the feelings that washed over me left me feeling surprised and stunned.
I had no idea it was going to be this hard.
When we got to the hotel I have to admit that I had a crying spell. I can chalk some of it up to pure exhaustion but that wouldn’t be the entire reason I was emotional. The realization that my baby has taken yet one more step away from me, and into a world where I cannot protect her, was more powerful than I had ever imagined it would be.
You see, I’ve never been the mom who was clingy. I was proud of having raised my kids to be independent. I wanted them to be able to stand on their own two feet and able to take care of themselves. I considered it the mark of a good mother that her kids didn’t need her anymore. None of us live forever and our kids must be able to survive without us. That’s the motherhood goal…right?
And I’d told others that I was looking forward to this. I’d even told myself that I was looking forward to it. After all, I’ve got my own interests and things I want to do. My identity has never been solely based on motherhood. While motherhood was was important and I love my kids, I didn’t consider it the only measure of my success in life.
But I cried like a baby anyway. I don’t guess it matters how old our babies are – they’re still our babies and we’ll always have this urge to protect and take care of them.
The world is a big scary place. I didn’t know that when I moved into my first apartment, but I’m much too aware of that fact now that it’s my daughter’s turn to move into her first place.
I’d like to say that a little piece of your heart stays behind any time you turn around and leave your child in a new place. But it would be a lie.
Wherever your child is – your whole heart is left there with them.
Practical tips for moving your child into an apartment
Know where you are allowed to park your personal vehicles and/or the moving truck. One of our daughter’s roommates learned this the hard way after her parent’s car was towed from an adjacent parking lot that belonged to another building. It was nearly 5pm on a Friday so hubby took them on a mad dash to find the impound lot so they could retrieve the car before the weekend started. Talk about a near calamity!
Follow the rules for moving in. Find out ahead of time if there is a set time for moving in and where you can dispose of packing materials and boxes.
Get room measurements ahead of time and identify any moving obstacles. You’ll need to know dimensions before you start gathering or purchasing any furniture. You’ll also need to account for how you’re going to get any bigger furniture into the apartment. Our daughter’s apartment had a loft with a spiral staircase. The roommate moving into the loft had one heck of a time getting her mattress up and they finally had to resort to hauling it up with ropes because there was no way it was going up the spiral staircase!
Identify ahead of time who is bringing what. This will make your shopping easier and there’s no reason to have duplicates of most items. This will also save unnecessary – and untimely – tips to the store to pick up a moving-day essential that no one remembered to bring.
Take photos of everything before you move in a single box! This will provide documentation as to the condition of the apartment in case there are any damage disputes when your child moves out.
Bring snacks and water. Trust me, moving your child is tiring! Long before it’s officially time to stop you’re going to be ready for a break – and unless you’ve already been grocery shopping you’re going to be out of luck unless you’ve brought a few provisions.
Don’t forget to bring some basic cleaning supplies and tools. Even if the apartment has been cleaned prior to move-in, you’ll still want to clean the bathtub. You’re likely to find a few other areas that could stand some ‘freshening up’ as well before you start unloading the boxes.
Get phone numbers of roommates. Okay, you don’t need these right away, but you’re going to feel better later knowing that you can get in touch with someone who lives with your child in case there’s an emergency and you’re not able to immediately reach your child. Be sure that you give roomies your phone number too so that they can get in touch with you as well if needed. Hopefully, no one ever has to use these numbers but your peace of mind is worth it to have them.
Don’t forget renter’s insurance. Get this lined up before you leave your child and head home. It’s too easy to forget otherwise.
Remind yourself that you are supporting player in the day’s events. Moving into their first apartment is a major milestone for your child. Don’t spoil it by making it all about you – let your kid take charge and be the star.
Recognize that you’re going to have mixed emotions. Yes, you’re excited, but it’s stressful too. At the end of the day (once you’ve left your child) don’t try to squelch those feelings. Have that cry if you need to – I certainly did.
The nice thing about most of these items below is that they fold. That allows you to stick the in the back of your van or moving truck without the taking up too much space. You’ll find them indispensable on moving day.