For her junior year at Washington University, my daughter, Rebecca, moved into an off-campus apartment. Lucky for her, ClosetMaid had provided furniture for her dorm room the previous year that could be repurposed and paired with some new pieces to create a mature and modern space.
When we arrived in St. Louis, the living room in the new apartment was filled with boxes. Some were filled with items that had been ordered or shipped from home. Others were packed by the school when the pandemic shut down colleges the previous spring. Armed with box cutters, the first four hours in the new apartment were spent emptying boxes and moving them out of the apartment.
The apartment filled with boxes.
Once the boxes were emptied, and the items were sorted by category, the fun began. We used two X-frame bookshelves (previously split between Rebecca’s dorm bedroom and the dorm shared living space) to flank the media stand, creating a wall unit with these versatile pieces. These shelves provide ample room for Rebecca’s books as well as candles, photos, and artwork. The drawers of the media stand store cords, chargers, and notebooks while the shelves hold fun books and games.
ClosetMaid bookshelves flank the media stand.
A new couch by Best Choice Products was selected for its clean and modern look as well as its ability to convert to a bed. The coffee table with shelves, taken from Rebecca’s dorm room provides useful storage. A tray corrals the remote control for the television, and games for small gatherings with friends are stored on the handy shelves.
Couch with ClosetMaid coffee table and art work by Romi Tannenbaum
Last month, I posted a blog entry on college move in tips based on advice from friends and my own expectations about the process. Now, after doing two college move ins in two states for two children in three days, I’m ready to pass along my expertise to you. And, if it’s too late for you this year, I’ll repost it next year in July!
Four to Six Weeks Before Move In
• Select and order bedding. For my children, I ordered wrinkle free sheets from Lands End Home. I had the sheets monogrammed for an extra special touch.
• Unless your child attends Washington University (like my daughter) where dorms boast tempurpedic mattresses, you’ll want to invest in a mattress topper. I got this one for my son.
• Both my children also ordered headboards. While definitely not a necessity, they did make both rooms look much more put together.
• Visit your local Bed Bath and Beyond where you can take advantage of their Pack and Hold service. This means you can shop for the items you need in your local store, and you pick them up at a store near your college campus. We ordered the following: very deep under bed stackable drawers, shower caddy, drawer dividers, stackable shoe shelves, drawer inserts, towels, bath mats, mattress topper (noted above), garbage cans, hangers, Brita pitcher, desk lamps (one for the desk and one for next to the bed), extension cords, surge protectors, and stick on lights (for inside the closet).
• Select wall art and have it shipped to the dorm. My daughter was an intern at Art Sugar, and they sent her beautiful framed pictures. My son ordered artwork from Icanvas and Ikonik.
Eighteen and a half years ago, we became an instant family when my twins wore born. Now, the reverse is inevitable as the empty nest looms ahead. In August, my twins will start college. We’ll fly as a family of four to St. Louis where we’ll move my daughter into her dorm at Washington University. Then, three of us will fly to Atlanta to move my son into his room at Emory University. Five days later, only two of us will return home. While this time is bittersweet for us, it’s also a time where strategic planning and preparation can remove some of the stress, and help us enjoy a special milestone. Although I’m a first timer, here are some tips that I’ve gathered from friends and family that have made this journey before me.
1. Book flights and hotels for move in and family weekends when you’re notified of the dates. The closer the hotel is to campus, the sooner it gets sold out.
By Guest Blogger Aviva Leshaw, McGill University Freshman
Now that I’ve settled into college life, I see how important managing my time and my space is. If you want to excel academically, socialize, and participate in extracurricular activities, follow these tips for staying organized.
1. Have a good calendar system: organizing your time will organize your mind, and eventually your space. Whether it’s paper or digital, keep your calendar with you at all times.
2. Don’t go to school with every single item you think you’ll need for the year. Plan to purchase some supplies after you live in your room for a while. You may think you’ll use a kettle, or have countless items to fill a 10pack of jumbo storage containers, but when you arrive these items may be unnecessary.
3. If you have a roommate, contact them beforehand to figure out who will purchase shared appliances, or purchase some of these items together when you both arrive at school.
4. As classes begins, if you do have a double room, keep in mind that you can’t control your roommate’s side of the room. Keep your area neat, and always how shared areas will be maintained.
5. Designate sensible spots for everything at the beginning of the semester. Your desk should be your study space, so keep books and supplies in that area only, while clothing and shoes should be in the closet.
6. Utilize all available space. This includes in your closet, under your bed, and on your walls.
7. Put items like extra linen and outofseason clothing out of sight, perhaps under your bed or on the top shelf of a closet, so that they don’t get in the way on a daily basis.
8. If you brought anything with you that you don’t need, bring it home with you on your next trip, or get rid of it. There’s no need keep something the whole year if you’ll never use it.
9. Keep snacks…snacksized. This will not only ward off the freshman fifteen, they’re also easy to grab when running to class. Stock your room with snack packs, rather than anything “jumbo.”
10. And finally, decorate! Make the space your own…it’s the only way you’ll want to spend time there and keep things neat.
By Guest Blogger Aviva Leshaw, McGill University Incoming Freshman
After working as Barbara’s intern for the past 3 years, I’ve definitely learned a few things about organizing. In less than a week, I’m moving to Montreal for my freshman year at McGill University. And, as my college move-in day draws nearer, I’ve been packing and planning. Here, I’ve shared my tips for college packing. Continue reading “Packing for College” »
By Guest Blogger Sarah Katzin, University of Pennsylvania Junior.
1. Whether running to class or coming home late, college students always seem to be in a rush. Put a hook right by the door for your keys so it’s one less thing you have to search for in a hurry.
2. With square footage so tight, maximizing your storage space is crucial. Bed risers are a great way to create that extra space, perfect for plastic storage bins or suitcases.
3. Organize your closet space seasonally. Store winter clothes in your luggage during the warm months, and switch them as the temperature begins to drop.
4. Hooks are essential to hang up towels, purses, and jackets since closet space is often limited. Hooks can be placed on the dorm room door, closet door, or wall – any inch of space that isn’t already in use.
5. Winter accessories should be kept together. Place gloves, scarves and hats in a bin near the door to grab on the way out and toss back in upon returning.
6. Use a bedside storage caddy if the dorm room lacks a nightstand. This keeps glasses, a cell phone, pens and a notebook in reach when half asleep.
7. Keep late night snacks in an airtight plastic bin high up to keep from attracting bugs and rodents.
8. Make your own “Desk Drawer”: fill a small clear bin or organizing tray with scissors, tape, white-out, paper clips, rubber bands, post-it notes, and extra printer ink. This will prevent a 3AM anxiety attack when a paper is due in the morning!
9. Don’t make extra work for yourself. If space permits, two laundry bags to separate whites and darks throughout the week will not only be the perfect time saver but also start first timers in a great habit from the get-go.
10. There is no room for hoarding in a dorm! Whether you sell or pass on to a friend, purging your room of old textbooks is key to dorm room success.
As the school year draws to a close, both my children and I breathe a sigh of relief. We’re all tired. They’re tired of being nagged, and I’m tired of doing the nagging. But before we start counting down the days until they leave for summer camp, I clean out their backpacks and all other vestiges of the academic year we’ve just left behind. So, here are some tips for delving into those backpacks while hoping not to discover anything too scary…(last week’s lunch?)
1. Throw out every sticky, gooey, extra large art project. The good news is, now that I have teenagers, these art projects and diaramas are a thing of the past!
2. Sort through homework and graded papers. Unless an assignments may help a younger brother or sister, these papers can be tossed.
3. Save creative writing, either in a specially labeled folder or an online folder.
4. Trash old school supplies that are dog-eared or doodled on. Reusable items like calculators and hole punchers should be saved.
5. Recycle notebooks, lined paper, pens and pencils that haven’t been used or are in good condition.
6. Determine the likelihood of your child using his/her backpack for another year. Chances are, you’ll be buying a new one in the fall, so if this is the case, don’t save it.
7. Rejoice at all the lost things you find inside the backpack: earrings, money, your child’s retainer, and more!
As the long, lazy days of summer dwindle, moms everywhere start to feel stressed about “Back to School”. There’s scheduling after school activities, planning carpools, shopping for clothing, finding babysitting coverage and attending the never ending orientations, class breakfasts, and curriculum nights (multiplied by the number of children you have) that schools love to host. It’s a lot for even the most organized of moms. So, before you throw in the towel, here are some tips to get you through the fall frenzy.
1. Edit your children’s clothes. Before you buy anything new for the fall, revisit all of the heavy, winter items that you saved from last year, eliminating anything that doesn’t fit. Check your stash of hand me downs to see what does fit. Once you’ve edited and purged, make a list and buy your child just what they need…and maybe just a few things that are so cute you can’t resist!
2. Create a study space in your home. This is nothing more complicated than having a clear surface, good lighting, and essential supplies. Use stackable paper trays that can be filled with lined paper, white paper, and colored paper. Then, use small plastic drawers for highlighters, binder clips, post-it notes, tape and glue. Pencils and pens can be kept in a decorative mug or cup on the desk. Where your child does his/her homework is less important than having supplies that are accessible.
3. Use a master calendar. Whether you affix a calendar to a wall, post it on the refrigerator, or keep track of your family’s activities electronically, what’s important is that every activity for each family member is recorded in one place. This guarantees that you’ll avoid the stress of double booked activities, impossible logistics, and overscheduling.
4. Institute weekly family meetings that prepare each member of your family for the upcoming week. Young children might remind you that they need to bring cookies for the bake sale, older children might remind you that they need to be driven somewhere, and you can remind your family that you won’t be home for dinner on a particular night.
5. Don’t be afraid to say no…to heading the school bake sale, play dates your child doesn’t want, and activities that are simply inconvenient. Volunteer if you’d like, but choose what you’ll enjoy and what won’t overtax you. For example, by volunteering to plan the parents’ night out, you can ensure that its location and date work for you, and you’re not roped into a year-long commitment.
Years ago (before I had children), Staples ran a back to school commercial that showed parents dancing through the aisles while the track to “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” played in the background. To me, that commercial was hilarious. But now, two children later, I’m no longer sure. After a three-month summer vacation, having them in someone else’s hands between the hours of 8 and 3 comes as a well-deserved break. Yet, at the same time, back to school is not for the faint of heart.
Between the PTA meetings, orientations, class breakfasts, curriculum nights, and after-school nonsense, a working mother has to wonder: when are you supposed to work? A friend of mine has a daughter who just started kindergarten. On the first day of school, her daughter had 30 minutes of school…from 11:00 to 11:30. On the second day of school, her daughter went to school for an hour…from 10:00 to 11:00. While this may be strictly a New York City phenomenon, in what universe is it convenient to drop your child off for one hour in the middle of a working day?
And then there’s scheduling after school activities. When I was growing up, there were about three choices for what I could do after school…and that included the choice of coming home and doing nothing. Today, there are literally hundreds of options. And this is as much a blessing as a curse. You’re trying to schedule four different activities per child, yet after-school activities (particularly travel sports) appear to be run by the only people in New York who don’t have a firm grasp on the concept of a time. Is baseball practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or is it just on Fridays? Is play practice going to be Mondays or Wednesdays? Just tell me the schedule. Meanwhile, my child gets shut out of tennis because I’m waiting to hear what day baseball practice is. And then the one yoga class that’s available takes place precisely in the one hour of the week that my child has some mandatory other activity. Scheduling is a nightmare, and the more children you have, the bigger the nightmare becomes.
And once you master the calendar logistics, you have to address the social issues. Your child doesn’t want a play date with the child whose mother is hounding you for one. Or, you’re trying to sign up for a group activity for three second graders, and they don’t have a single day and time in common. And your good friend’s child is a bully. And, your child is the only one that doesn’t have the FILL IN THE BLANK.
Isn’t this enough to make a sane person come undone?? Read on for a few of my tips for a Stress-Free September. And, as always, I love to hear from you. How do you cope with back-to-school madness?
Tips for a Stress Free September
1. Have a glass of wine. A chilled bottle of Pinot is as essential during this time as pencil cases and notebooks.
2. Don’t be afraid to say no…to heading the benefit committee, to play dates your child doesn’t want, and to activities that are inconvenient for you.
3. Do volunteer—for something fun and easy. By volunteering to plan the parents’ night out, you can ensure that its location and date work for you. By volunteering to plan the 6th grade graduation party, you can win points with your child without suffering through a year-long commitment.
4. Start your schedule by locking in the activity your kid likes most. Once you know when that meets, you can branch out from there.
5. Back up all homework on an external hard drive or flash drive. Saving these files externally will protect documents from being accidentally deleted by other family members.
6. Overscheduling is a myth, especially if your kids are old enough to have discovered the computer. Put it this way; if they’re playing tennis or doing ballet, they’re not i-chatting.