Thank goodness for second chances.

Moving my first daughter into college was a nasty, bumbling mess. It’s an entertaining story that I would love to tell you, but I don’t come off looking very good. Let’s just leave it at that.

I’ve had three years in timeout to think about my bad behavior, and to plan a different kind of day when I drive my second daughter to college in a few weeks. You can learn from my mistakes. Here are three sacred rules for the day you’re dreading.

  1. Keep it short.

    All the things they say in the movies about long good-byes are true. What do they say? “Everyone hates them.”

    Get on with it. When your moving task is done, get going. Even if you planned to have dinner together, if you finish early, don’t make your kid spend the two extra hours entertaining you. The most exciting time of her life is waiting. Swallow hard and get out of Dodge.

  2. Keep it sweet.

    Moving large boxes and marking dreaded stressful milestones in the same day is a recipe for bickering. Remember, you’re the grown up. Keep the smile on your face. Keep idle chatter upbeat, not critical. Meet stress with calm. Bring candy. When you’re tempted to give a lecture, give a wink instead. You can’t necessarily set the tone (remember … boxes), but don’t sour it.

  3. Keep it real.

    Yes, after feeding and sheltering a person for 18 years, you are entitled to a little storybook sentimentality.

    But today is not the day. Today is moving day. What’s really happening is two different stories — yours and your child’s. You each have different expectations, and neither of you knows the details of the other’s happy ending. Not really. Even if you do, mom, yours matters less. Try to be in the moment. Observe and remember what is really happening. You can’t do that if you’re looking for your tiara and magic wand.

    I’m not saying it’s easy. Letting go of my first daughter was so difficult that I journaled for a year (which turned into an entire book) as self therapy.

    I learned that letting go is a learned skill. I do best when I remember that the student in this process is not the person that is staying behind in the dorm room.

    do your laundry or you'll die alone book in pretty laundry basket with towels and clothespins

Leave behind a motherly hug with the sweet, sassy little book Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone. See it HERE.


  1. Judy August 17, 2014 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    Awesome! As always!

  2. Cynthia Hudson August 17, 2014 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    Love these rules.
    Can’t wait to see your book
    about weddings and grandbabies!!!!!
    We learn as we go don’t we. But
    it’s good to be aware of the moment
    and don’t sweat the small stuff, at least
    not in front of the kids. They say it’s
    ALL small stuff. But I say, it starts out
    big and gets small! Good to know.

  3. Julie August 17, 2014 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    I handled it well enough when we dropped off my daughter for college, but completely blew it when we moved her into her new apartment in a different new city much further away than college had been. Great essay, you nailed it for college and for first job as well.

  4. Kathy August 17, 2014 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    Hindsight is always 20 20. Isn’t it? Great advise for those who will be experiencing this rite of passage . Thanks for sharing. Kath

  5. siobhan August 18, 2014 at 10:50 am - Reply

    Nicely, and concisely, put. I can remember this! xoxo

  6. Donna August 18, 2014 at 10:59 pm - Reply

    I will never be good at this. I said goodbye to my 4 children a thousand times and every time I was terrible. These are great ideas, wish I had followed them.

    • Becky Blades August 18, 2014 at 11:14 pm - Reply

      It’s so hard. Someone needs to invent a parental coaching/babysitting program to save us from ourselves.

  7. Dawn August 8, 2016 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    Ahhh….the joy of hindsight (or insight)!!! I too needed to do these things with my youngest son…..thought I handled it quite well until I got 40 minutes out of town and saw a sign for his college……Yeah, those [3] extra boxes of tissues sure go fast!! Thank goodness for 1800 miles of road, sappy songs on the radio and an understanding State Trooper for getting me to Denver where my other half flew in to save my broken heart!! LOL Great advice to all us loving (sometimes over involved) parents who will be doing this soon! Hang in there….it is all worth it watching them bloom!! <3

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do your laundry or die alone author becky blades

Becky Blades, Author of Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone, and contributor to Huffington Post,, Scary Mommy, and Grown & Flown.