Podcast 125: Plan a Virtual Move, a Deep-Dive for College-Bound Students, and an Easy Cure for Splinters.

Update: A listener planned not just a Power Hour, not just a Power Day, but an entire Power Week.

Try This at Home: Plan a virtual move.

Happiness Hack: To get rid of a splinter, coat the skin with glue, then peel it off. I’ve also heard that duct tape works, too.

Deep Dive — Advice About a College-Bound Child: In episode 122, I asked listeners for advice as I help Eliza go off to college in the fall. Listeners gave so many great suggestions — covering everything from what to pack, to how often to call, to how to build new family traditions.

Here are the posts I mention from the Eyeliner Wings and Pretty Things blog:


Gretchen’s Demerit: On Happier in Hollywood, Elizabeth and Sarah talked about how we all need a good professional photograph of ourselves. And although I know perfectly well that I need additional photographs for my redesigned website, I haven’t done anything about it.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gives herself a gold star for driving to Legoland and back. (As I write about in Happier at Home, Elizabeth and I share a real dislike of driving.)

Three Resources:

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  3. If you want to pre-order my book The Four Tendencies (and it’s a big help to me, if you do), go here.

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Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #125

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  • Marette Hahn

    Hello there,

    I have a few thoughts to share. First, when I went to college my mom had done some research and learned from other parents and the parent connection resources at my college that the parents should let the children be the first to reach out after initial drop-off – let them make the first contact on their terms.

    Second, that reminds me that a lot of colleges/universities do have some sort of parent/family network. My mom was involved in it even long after I graduated as a way to give back to the school. I actually work at a university in Arizona now, and we have an incredible parent/family program with lots of resources and intentional programming, communication, and support. It could be a great way to get involved, stay connected, and relate with other parents and families.

    I highly recommend playing to Eliza’s love language as much as you can and as best you can from afar. I went to college just 25 minutes from my mom’s house, so I imagine my mom didn’t see the need for care packages. However, my love language is gifts, so it actually really hurt to watch all of my friends get care packages while I never received a single one. Obviously that may not matter to some people, especially if their love language is not gifts, but hopefully you can find a new and exciting way to play to her love language. By the way, it doesn’t always have to be care packages – sometimes a fun card, spiffed up with some cute confetti in it or something, can really brighten a day. 🙂

    Related to books, I know a lot of universities are in the process of transitioning to eBooks, at least partially. But if she still needs some hard cover books, I highly recommend renting or purchasing from Amazon or another used book source. There are resources to rent like chegg.com, or Amazon even rents or does its own buy-back program. I believe Amazon even has a student rate for Amazon Prime. She may want to hang on to major-specific books, however, so if she does want to keep some, then try purchasing those second-hand so she doesn’t have to return them.

    I also recommend having some kind of conversation around the expectations for when Eliza is back under your roof during breaks or over the summer. It can be very difficult to go to college with all the freedom in the world, to then come back home and be surprised when your parents get upset that you were out late or ate pizza for breakfast, or whatever the case may be. It may alleviate some future frustrations by laying all that out there from the beginning so you’re all on the same page.

    Also, while I don’t have siblings, I can relate to the comment that was shared about making sure all of the attention doesn’t just get shifted to Eleanor. As an only child, my mom tried hard to raise me without only-child syndrome. However, my parents divorced when I was young, so the attention that had been split between my dad and myself, suddenly focused solely on me. That meant every single move I made was watched and magnified. All of that extra attention, now that my mom didn’t have anywhere else to direct it, was stifling. I can imagine how easy it would be to shift the attention usually saved for Eliza directly onto Eleanor, so if you can help it, I would recommend trying to dissipate it somehow.

    I know that’s a lot of information, but I hope it helps! Encourage Eliza to take tons of pictures, enjoy each moment, to not be afraid of asking professors for help, and seize every opportunity. My life completely changed when I got involved on campus – I can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting involved. College is such an incredible time of growth and personal discovery – she has an amazing time ahead of her!


  • Sandra Seidel

    Hi Gretchen & Elizabeth,
    A couple of quick thoughts : )
    WRITE & send fun cards – in the crazy world of everything tech your handwriting will be so comforting & we often write in a different way then we speak.
    We took our kids & their friends out often when we visited them (mostly for pizza because it was cheaper!). It was great to get to know them & fun to put faces with stories. My girls developed great college friendships & I even knit matching slippers for all of them.
    Thank you for the podcast – it makes me happier!!!

    • MJ

      Yes–so fun to get mail! Great suggestion. 🙂 Could also send them postcards and stamps to send to their friends from high school. Even though social media makes staying in touch easy, communication you can hold in your hand really shows someone took time to think of you and means so much!

  • Monica

    When my son left for college I created a “Just in Case” box. It was in a fishing tackle box. In addition to meds for illness, I added a mini sewing kit, AA & AAA batteries, small tool set, vaseline, cortisone, mini first aid, sharpie, flash light, safety pins, alcohol wipes, Q-tips, nail clippers & tweezers, thermometer. Anything little that we would just happen to have in the house that when you need it, it’s not necessarily easy to get.

    I also, purchased a variety of the command hooks, and adhesives. He could hang all kinds of things and they came off easily when he moved out.


  • Deborah S

    As a mother of a child soon off to university, I really appreciated these tips! Thank you! More please!

  • MJ

    Great tip about purchasing odor eliminating products for a dorm room!

    I’d recommend something neutral (my roommate had an addiction to a scented “freshening” spray and I felt like I was breathing in chemicals in our small space, yuck).

    One product that works really well are bags filled with activated charcoal — you can find them on Amazon. Scent free, and they absorb smells well! Plus you can tuck them into hiding spots (like under the bed or near your shoe stash) and “recharge” them in the sunshine. 🙂

  • Derek F

    My wife and I will sometimes do a virtual move as we think about down-sizing. We have found that there are three categories to consider: a) those things that we would absolutely move; b) those things we wouldn’t move and shouldn’t keep; c) those things that you wouldn’t move but want to keep until we move. A lot of things fall into the third category, such as books, games, pictures, as well as kitchen items.