What to include in a college care package

14 November 2022

For me, one of the delights of getting older is having the opportunity to model what a loving, generous, thoughtful grown-up life can look like to the kids and teens around me. Obviously, it must be said that I DO NOT do this perfectly, not even a little bit – but it is something I think about often. What messages am I sending to the younger people around me about what it means to be a grown-up? From looking at me, will they think it’s fun? A privilege? Something to look forward to? Or will they think it looks like a drag, something to be delayed as long as people?

And how about marriage? What will they think about marriage from watching and listening to me? Will they think it’s something that holds me back? That exasperates me? That erases me? Or will they sense it’s something that delights me, nourishes me, and challenges me to be the best version of myself?

In addition to my children, some of the people I am most aware of having the opportunity to influence are our babysitters. I think about it so much! At a time in their lives when, psychologically, they’re pulling away from their parents and looking more to their peers and social media, how interesting is it that they can come into our home environment – a somewhat neutral space – and (hopefully!) see the beauty and allure of something beyond high school or college life, or the shiny facade of social media. In the smallest of ways, I hope being welcomed into our lives expands their perspective of what matters in the big picture, and maybe gives them something to look forward to when school or their social life feels hard. (Or even when it feels like the opposite – like high school is the MOST FUN they’ll ever have in their life, and everything else will be downhill from there).

Or maybe they’ve literally never had these thoughts once, ha! But I suspect they have, because I remember having them when I was their age. In high school, I had teachers and other mentors who sparked my interest in grown-up life and inspired the direction I wanted to grow, and I am SO grateful for that.

All this as long-winded intro to sharing these “boxes of sunshine” that we sent to our two babysitters who started college this fall. June and I cruised the aisles of Target to select goodies for them; everything fit surprisingly neatly into fig bar boxes from Costco :) A little yellow tissue paper and curly ribbon brought everything together! Here’s what we included in our college care packages:

And a note from me, a letter from June, and a drawing from Shep. Of course, it must be said you could literally put any one of these items and a heartfelt note in a mailer and ship it off to an 18-year-old and it would bring a smile to their face, but we had fun putting these together.

I would love to hear if you ever think about the messages you’re sending to the younger ones around you! If you do, what’s the message you hope you convey?

P.S. We’ve done this before :) And affiliate links are used in this post!

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November 14, 2022 11:10 pm

I was the babysitter you’re talking about! I nannyed for 1.5 families all the way through high school and college. To say I bonded with those kids is an understatement- we spent 45 hours a week together for 7 summers! I love those darlings, but I got even closet to their parents. From the carride convos to the check in texts. They saw me through every phase of young adulthood – dances, track championships, college decisions, career choices, breakups, all of it! They became trusted sources of love. And sometimes you just need another wise, kind, loving listening ear that isn’t your parents when you’re growing up. ????
As someone who was eternally blessed by the families I sat for, it makes me so happy to see this kind of intention!!! Not that I would expect anything less.

November 15, 2022 11:19 am

I absolutely love this. We’ll soon be entering the season of high school age babysitters, and I am tucking this away.

November 18, 2022 10:14 am

I love your thoughts on this! As someone who has babysat my whole life – in high school (when life was fun), in college (when life was sometimes hard and lonely), and in post-grad, newly married life (when everything felt foreign), I can attest that being welcomed into a family’s home and life has a profound impact and perspective-shaping power. I’ll never forget one particular instance: a family I babysat for occasionally in college invited me to their child’s birthday party “to work” – looking back, they didn’t really need me, but knew I needed them. The laughter of children, free chick-fil-a and adult conversation was a simple joy that made all the difference in a hard season.