This post is a collaboration with TV Licensing, but all thoughts and experiences are my own.
Do you have kids thinking about university? If so, how well prepared do you think they are? Do they have a colour-coded uni checklist ready to go or are they one tin of beans away from disaster? In this post Belle and I take a quiz to see how we’d fare if Belle chooses to go to university…
It’s been a while now since my eldest daughter Bee went off to university. It’s been so long in fact that she has graduated, had a baby, and is now studying for a masters.
I remember when I wrote about Bee’s graduation saying that I was particularly proud that she was having a mini can of gin and tonic before 11am. I also remember feeling proud at the time that she seemed relatively well prepared, domestically at least. She was the only person in her flat of eight teenagers who knew how to use a washing machine and she seemed to be the only one who had ever cooked a basic meal. As a result she quickly struck up a lucrative deal with a flatmate where she had all of her food bought for her in return for cooking duties.
Of course she did often phone me to ask me questions like ‘how do you cook bacon?’ and ‘how much is a stamp?’ but I think that was just because she wanted to say hello.
My youngest daughter Belle is 20 now and although she’s not going to university this September I have a lot of friends that I met when Belle was a baby who all have kids of leaving home age. It’s been fascinating over the last couple of years to watch them all grow up, to see where they go and what they do, and to hear stories about how well, or not so well prepared they are.
I was invited to take part in the TV Licencing (TVL) Family Quiz, designed to see just how well prepared our teens are for life outside the family home and I was interested to see how well Belle would get on, should she decide to head off at any stage. I like to think I’ve brought them both up to be able to look after themselves pretty well, but then they reveal they can’t actually do something simple, like tie their shoe laces, and I wonder…
The family quiz – part one
The first part of the BBC TVL family quiz was designed to test Belle’s knowledge, and I felt pretty confident about this one. Belle has autism and she is all over things like keeping meat separate in the fridge. She does her best at least alongside me – notoriously grubby and unhygienic. In fact I imagine that if Belle lived alone, she’d have a much cleaner fridge and house in general. She’s also a brilliant cook – if you can make steamed buns that look like bunnies then you’re not going to have any problems knowing how long to boil an egg for are you?
She underestimated how often you should change your bedding, (every week ideally), but she knows her way around a launderette, and she knew how to find out when the bins get collected. (Check the local council website.) In fact, the only area she wasn’t entirely clear on was TV Licencing, which I promise is entirely true and not just because that’s what this post is about! She was aware that students needed a TV licence in halls, but she hadn’t realised the full scope.
If I’m totally honest I wouldn’t have been clear on the TV Licencing either. I have a TV Licence obviously, but then I’ve always had one, before I had the internet and before Netflix was even a glimmer in someone’s eye. If you pushed me though then I’d have probably said you only needed a licence to watch live TV.
You need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV or streamed live on an online TV service. And that’s not just the BBC; it’s all channels on any platform and on any device. You also need to be covered to watch BBC iPlayer.
Would you have known that? I didn’t for sure.
The family quiz – part two
This is the part of the BBC TVL family quiz where it gets personal. I’m not talking insult slinging or anything, although Belle would score highly on that, I mean do you and your children have similar expectations in terms of how often they’re really going to attend lectures, what personal item from home is going to be top of the packing list and what your relationship might look like when they leave?
This was an interesting exercise because it makes you think about some of the practical things too that you might forget to think about. Have you talked to your kids for instance about university budgeting for things like food shopping or how they might manage shared cleaning responsibilities? Do they have any thoughts on what clubs they might want to join, or how they’re going to manage stress or homesickness? These might not be as obvious as choosing your degree subject and university, or planning a packing list, but they’re still important to consider.
I wouldn’t say many of Belle’s answers surprised me on this one – ‘How many times a week will you call me?’ ‘None’ – but I know too that it’s easy to joke when it’s not a reality you’re facing. Homesickness can be very real, even if they’re also having a lot of fun. Both feelings can exist at the same time and it’s important for us as parents to remember that.
AND remember to make sure they have all the essentials like towels, sheets, and toilet paper, and that they’re covered by a TV Licence.
Check to see if your kids will need a TV Licence and download a handy uni checklist from TV Licensing now.