For years, I was a bit of a snob when it came to decorating, choosing branded accessories, even wallpaper. More recently, though, things have changed a little since the kids have grown up and they’ve gone off to university. I have to admit, it was a bit of a shock seeing the state of student digs.
Arriving with a car full of their belongings (actually their life on wheels!), we spent the first three or four hours cleaning everything from the bathroom to the insides of the kitchen cupboards, just to stop the ground floor from making me itch. I’m a little wiser now, and apparently this is just a standard feature of student life, but I like to see a kitchen sink reflect light rather than suck it in.
As many parents will know, there’s a limited time to complete the moving in day drill. We’d completed phases one and two, that’s queueing for miles along an ‘A’ road to get to the accommodation, and then cleaning the place. Step three is the obligatory food shop, and in a university town, there are three days a year when the locals avoid the supermarket. It’s nothing to do with Christmas, New Year and Easter, there’s a much worse time, student moving in day.
So, as it happens, my dear student daughter had, by either luck or judgement, chosen to live a stone’s throw from a huge Asda supermarket, which conveniently let us kit her room out with the non food essentials at the same time. She’d been lucky enough to win some vouchers by entering a ton of Asda competitions over the summer break, so we replaced the broken lamp in her bedroom, and picked up an office chair that she’d be able to sit on to study, on the off chance that the pub happened to be closed at some point during the year. Her friends have even followed her lead to try and win a few draws themselves, even one of them that’s come over to study from Dublin and researched equivalent Irish prize draws!
If you’ve ever been through the rigmarole of moving in day, you’ll know that a trolley for food and a trolley for ‘other’ items is essential, and then you’ve somehow got to get it all back to the flat/room/house without the normal boot space in the car as it’s still full of everything your child owns (if on the off chance they have left anything behind, you can always put it in storage – it helps forget the eighteen years of stress you’ve completed once you get home again!).
Now, that other trolley would come close to bankrupting you at any normal store, but fortunately, time constraints limit us to places like Asda, and that really is what finally taught me a valuable lesson. There was actually some decent stuff. For less than the food in the first trolley set us back, we picked up the chair and lamp that were essential, and also plenty of other impressively inexpensive items too. As an example, I convinced my daughter that the bathroom would look much more colourful with a brightly coloured mat and matching towels, while thinking that might stop her slicing her foot open on the broken tiled floor. You see that’s what it’s about, twist the reason to a benefit your child relates to, and you can feel much better leaving them behind as you drive away from the death trap you’re leaving them to live in.
They’re the best days of your life, so I hear, and what’s more, I learned that Asda sell decent bathroom mats. Maybe uni does teach you something. What’s more, unlike my days at uni, all the kids seem to have mobile phones like iPhones these days, so I can give her a call whenever I like, thanks to the cheap sim only deal I got her just before the summer holidays were out!