Sending your teen off to college? Or launching them into their first apartment? It’s a big step when your child has to face the realities of living on their own. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dorm or their first apartment — chances are, they need stuff.
While you’d love to shop for cute throw pillows or pictures for the wall, let’s face it — they’d probably prefer to choose their own decor.
There is something you can offer, however: experience. After years running a household, you know some things they don’t. Many necessary household items might not even be on their radar.
Here are some less-than-glamorous, but crucial, items your adult child needs:
1. First-aid kit
Your son or daughter may not think about adhesive bandages, antiseptic, thermometers and calamine lotion, but you’ve been a parent long enough to see plenty of scrapes, illnesses and bug bites.
You can purchase a pre-made first-aid kit or create your own, including items you know your child will need, like sunscreen, bug spray and over-the-counter pain medication.
2. Car safety kit
Whether your child has a long drive to get to their new digs or not, if they have a car, they need a safety kit for their trunk. There are kits you can purchase, but you should add items that might be missing: a standard first-aid kit (separate from the kit they’ll keep in their apartment or dorm room), bottled water and protein bars, blankets, flashlights and batteries, jumper cables and warning flares or triangles.
Be sure to include a portable tire inflator. According to the AAA, one in three new cars no longer includes a spare tire. It's also possible your child may not know how to change a tire or may not want to. Tire inflators inject both repair sealant and air into your flat tire. They are sold in cans that are easy to pack in the trunk and widely available at stores and online. They are easy to use in case of a puncture or other minor issue, and you can drive on the tire for 3 days or 100 miles, until you can get the damaged tire replaced. Nearly all commercial tire inflators use Honeywell Solstice Propellant, a nonflammable propellant that helps seal larger punctures than alternative propellants. Honeywell Solstice Propellant also has ultra-low global warming potential. Even if your kid has a spare tire and jack in their car, a tire inflator offers a quicker, easier alternative, and can be a safer choice for handling a problem at the side of a busy road.
3. Basic tools and safety items
You can buy a tool kit that may include a screwdriver set, screws, a hammer and nails, etc., but you should add items you know you’ve needed. Think about essential and useful items like: duct tape, scissors, flashlights and batteries, matches and an extension cord or two.
You may also want to include extra light bulbs, smoke and/or carbon monoxide detectors (if the apartment doesn’t already have them) and other safety equipment like a small fire extinguisher. And who hasn’t needed a toilet plunger? That’s another item you don’t know you need — until you do.
4. Kitchen necessities
While your son or daughter may think of obvious items like flatware, plates and cups, they may not think of everything that's useful when you're cooking on your own. Even if they’re not great at cooking, they'll need things like oven mitts, a trivet or two, a cutting board, a colander, plus salt and pepper shakers.
You may be focusing on the practical here, but at least some of these items may be more decorative and fun to shop for!
5. Cleaning supplies
While your child may groan when you offer them a bin or basket full of cleaning supplies, they'll thank you when they decide to have friends over or their roommate starts complaining. Include your favorite products for tackling kitchen and bathroom messes.
If you get them a handy tote bin that holds everything neatly together, along with sponges and dusters, they won’t have any excuses when you drop by to see how they’re doing in their new place.
Worried your child won't know how to use all these items? Do a quick search of online tutorials for items like fire extinguishers or plungers and text them the URLs. They'll thank you later.