Stuffed Animal at College

My daughter is in her sophomore year of college. Leaving for college was a huge deal and whatever was going to make that transition easier was taken on board. Read on to see how we felt about her bringing a stuffed animal with her.
A stuffed animal is going to make the transition from home to college easier.

In a time of nonjudging and openness, why should we even be thinking that a soft toy could be an issue? But we do need to consider all aspects of this decision.

Leaving home for college is a major move in your (and your child’s life). This may be the first time they have lived away from home and even the most confident child/teen is going to have anxiety. Here are some guidelines on how we prepared.

  1. Packing for college
  2. No one will judge you
  3. Leaving home needs security
  4. What are your concerns about bringing them?
  5. Why do they deserve to be with you?

Packing for College

The time has arrived for you to start thinking about moving to college. Of course, you want to bring everything. Who knows what clothes/ shoes you might need, and what events or outings you might get invited to? But we have to be realistic. There is only so much space available both in your suitcase and in your dorm. If you start the process early then you can reduce the pile week by week.

This in turn allows you to bring items that are important, sentimental shall we say. Such as your favorite stuffed animal. Our daughter has two, our son just one. The two with my daughter have always been in her room. When she was little, one went everywhere. But as she got older they remained on her bed.

As she began to get organized for college there was no question that they weren’t going on the adventure with her. It never really came up that they wouldn’t be going. But I must admit, I was a little apprehensive.

Your bag needs to have priorities when leaving for college. Obviously, clothes and bedding will make up the bulk of your packing. However, there are certainly other items that need to be at or near the top of your list. And of these, items of sentiment should definitely be included such as photos of family, favorite books, and a favorite stuffed animal.

All of these items will play their part when (and I say when not IF) you begin to feel homesick. It’s a natural part of moving to college.

Moving to college is different from getting your own place. Even though college could be on the other side of the country, you may only return for the holidays, your room is still at home, the same as it always is.

When you move you have to ensure you bring items with you that will comfort you when things get tough.

This could be exam time, your birthday, or a family member’s birthday that you’re missing out on. A stuffed animal will play a role in the transition from living at home to living away at college.

In relation to this, you may be interested to read my post, how often should I go home from college?

No one will judge you

To bring a stuffed animal or not may be a question that is asked for a number of reasons. As I say in our house, it wasn’t a question, but it may be causing some anxiety in your packing process. If it is included in the suitcase is it going to encourage teasing or embarrassment in a dorm?

The answer is generally no. This is college. No one really pays any attention to what you have brought with you in your luggage (unless of course, it’s food!) By the time teens get to college, most of the teasing has gone. They have finally grown up.

You’ll find also that everyone is so wrapped up in their own events and issues that no one cares, or even notices that there may be a stuffed animal on your bed.

Our daughter’s two stuffed toys are very precious to her, they have after all been through a lot with her. You don’t want anything to happen to them. You have to assume that the only people that are going to be in her bed, she will know pretty well. If there is a sense of anxiety there, the best advice is to keep them safe and hidden under bed linen.

I have also written the following posts about the various living situations at college;

Living in dorms – 5 tips for survival

Should I join a sorority?

Where do college students live?

Leaving Home Requires Some Security

As I said moving to college is for most, the first long-term stay away from home. It’s a pretty daunting thought. As a parent I was (and still am tbh) pretty scared about our daughter moving to the city. We live quite rurally, and to think of her in the bright lights of the city, well, makes me quite nervous. But I’m working on that and I’m better at coping than I was.

It’s important not to pass anxiety to your child. It needs to be sold as a fantastic adventure. This is the start of their adult life but a few securities from home are not going to harm anyone, only help the situation.

It’s a good idea to have a conversation with them (possibly more than one, but not the night before they leave). They need to be streetwise. It’s important that they make friends of course but also that they are mindful that they don’t immediately trust everyone.
It can be lonely moving away to college and sometimes the fact that you have a soft toy from home can be the cure for homesickness.

What are your concerns about bringing them?

Be it, a student or a parent, it’s natural to have concerns about bringing a ‘toy’ to college. This is your time to grow up, right? To become an adult. But that doesn’t happen the moment you leave home or enter a dorm. It takes time.

My concerns as a parent were that our daughter might be teased or god forbid someone might take one of them. But I asked a few other mums and they reassured me this was unlikely to happen.
Everyone is in the same boat more or less and no one notices. I also knew that they would provide comfort to her if she was feeling low on certain days.

Her concerns were somewhat similar but I was proud that she was adamant she was bringing them. She was certainly glad she did as halfway through her first year, COVID-19 struck, so being away from home with all the uncertainty of colleges and everything shutting, it was good to have the comfort of a familiar item from home.

Why they deserve to be with you

If you own a stuffed animal, no doubt you have had it for a long time. It has been involved in good times and more than likely not so good. Often we use a teddy or stuffed animal as someone to talk through our problems. If you are away at college these times may be more often, and rather than call home every five minutes your comfort can be gained from your soft toy.
As I say, our daughter found herself away at college during the pandemic. She is studying Bioscience (and is very lab-based). Due to this, they kept a lot of her classes running and she certainly soldiered on in spite of a lot of her roommates returning home.

Her two soft toys became a part of her facetime calls. I liked to believe they were looking after her, and in a way they were. They were a direct link to home. They were someone to detail her day with. She wanted to do ‘her bit’ for the crisis and so got a job and stayed on in her accommodation. We were so proud of her commitment. And I firmly believe that her stuffed animals played a part in her being able to do this.

So do your stuffed animals deserve to be with you in college? The answer is 100% yes. They are a link to home.

They are a crutch when days are not going so well. They have been through everything else with you so why would they be anywhere else except with you during the most amazing time of your life?

Tara Cunningham

Tara Cunningham is a Mum and Graphic Designer. My children's education has always been very important to me. I feel that if you are willing to put in the time they will appreciate the effort. I hope that you find our thoughts and ideas useful and interesting.

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