4 1/2 Ways Nursery and Dorm Room Shopping are Alike

Soon-to-be college freshman and their moms flock to stores during the summer for dorm room shopping. The mothers look overwhelmed, both at the shopping task and the awareness of the finality of this back-to-school excursion. But is there another reason we share that certain look in our eyes? Do we time-travel back 18 years, when we prepared the first tiny rooms for these same children? Once again, we are gripped by nesting instincts as we experience 4 1/2 ways nursery and dorm room shopping are alike.


Consider the similarities:

Nursery: crib sheets                           College: x-long twin sheets

Nursery: baby wipes                           College: Clorox wipes

Nursery: Diaper Genie                       College: laundry baskets

Nursery: baby monitor                       College: pc with Skype

Nursery: bumper pads                        College: if only…

Distinguishing between true essentials and all the rest comes only once the baby is home from the hospital or a few weeks into freshman year. Irresistible on the shelf, some sweet possessions remain in their boxes in the tidy baby’s room. Likewise, stand back in May when your college student retrieves whatever may be stashed under his bed, grimy, covered with lint and never opened.

While white-knuckling shopping carts, it is easy to lock in on the hunt for a perfect “something” for our child, be it a crib mobile or a coffee maker. When it was my turn to help our son prepare for freshman year, I studied numerous “dorm room essentials” and imagined him in September with all of his college provisions neatly unpacked and ready to be deployed.

Likewise, as a soon to be new mom, I turned to nursery checklists, fretting about what we might really need. Not knowing the sex of the baby eliminated the obvious pink or blue choices for the linens, compounding my confusion. After much hunting through pastel and primary designs, I found them: crisp white crib sheets, with floating red, white and blue letters and delicate illustrations.  The baby could begin literacy training from day one!

In my parallel, separated-by-18-years universe, I took aim at the oh-so-important comforter selection. Attempts at discussing this signature piece of dorm decor with my son resulted in a shrug and “just pick whatever you like, Mom.”

A few weeks later, my husband, daughter and I helped him move into his new college abode. I helped him make his weirdly elevated bed, and, inevitably, it was time for final hugs and goodbyes.

I wonder what he thought when he spied the stow-away I hid among the stacks of new clothes. Nestled inside was a small, light blue stuffed rabbit, one that resembled his favorite toy as a baby, wearing a scarf fashioned out of a corner of the alphabet crib linens. I had tucked the bunny in with the boxers and indulged my need for a final gesture of motherly sentimentality and a deep wish that the little rabbit might remind our son of home.



  1. says

    Ha! I never thought of it this way, but you’ve hit it right on the head. And that rabbit? I’m sure he’ll look to it for comfort far more often than he’d ever admit. Smart thinking, Mom! Good luck to all of you.

  2. says

    Aw, this one made me cry.
    At this stage in our “emptying nest”, my last child will be heading back to his Junior Year of college. Not only I am not involved in his shopping, I have no idea what he needs or wants to bring with him.
    My role? To buy and cook some favorite foods to send with him!

    • says

      Such a good idea to send along something you have made especially for him. May have to try the same – thanks for the idea.

  3. says

    The shopping list is funny but oh so true. You only hope the maturity level has grown a bit. The second time around, we’re getting better at figuring out what is really needed and what was a waste of space and money with the first one.

    • says

      Our last kids are juniors in high school. Hope we are smarter when it is our last time to go along on the college shopping trips, too!

    • says

      Scratch the surface of most of us about our kids leaving and there are a few tears just waiting to happen.

  4. says

    Ahhh – this is so sweet – and so true. I loved the pairing question about bumper pads. If only we could bumper pad them against falls. And the little bunny? Oh my goodness. I have a daughter who is 30 now and still has her “gold blankey.” Quiet little reminders and comforts from home.

  5. says

    lovely lovely post. i found pictures squirreled away in suitcases and songs on their itunes that i said reminded me of them. it made me realize that as much as i wanted to let go and hold on at the same time, they did too.