It’s here. The day you have anticipated, dreamed about and maybe even dreaded for 18 years has arrived. While college move in day is a proud moment for any parent that does not mean it isn’t a day filled with stress and more than a little sadness. While we have written about why we will miss our kids, how to manage dorm shopping and how to be successful in college according to research, older students and professors, here we are just going to look at the logistics of getting our kids out of our homes and into their new apartment or dorm.
College Move In Day Will Be A Long Day, Take Care Of Yourself
- Move-in day in many parts of the country can be sweltering, so come prepared with some cold drinks and snacks.
- The parents who show up with coffees, bagels or doughnuts cannot help but win over a few fans.
- Wear clothing that is both comfortable and can get dirty. Dorms can be filthy even on move-in day.
- Family weekend is a better time to bring the extended family. Dorm rooms are small, hot and strewn with packing debris. There is no place for family members to sit and your child barely knows their school. They will have far more to show and tell grandparents and siblings by October.
Packing Should Be The Reverse of Unpacking
When you get to campus your kid’s dorm will be crowded. Their hall will be filled with empty cardboard boxes and their room will be covered with their roommates belongings. The more you organize your packing ahead of time the easier it will be to unpack upon arrival.
- Pack hanging items on their hangers in tall garbage bags (as shown below). That way putting them in the closet is as simple as tearing away the bags. No wrinkles, no packing hangers and no suitcases required.
- Pack bedding all in one place (duffel bag or even better large black garbage bags) so that it can easily be accessed all at once. It is best to wash it before you leave home.
- Get rid of as much packing material as possible at home. The dorm will be piled high with cardboard boxes and plastic wrapping and the trash cans overflowing.
- Pack the under bed storage containers with the items your student will keep in them during the year. Bulky sweaters and extra sheets and towels are often good items. Use one storage drawer as a “medicine cabinet” with extra toiletries and over-the-counter remedies. Tape the drawers shut before you leave for move in.
Do Some Early Reconnaissance
- Find out where your student picks up her swipe card/key/ID card. Don’t unload her belongings only to discover that you cannot get into the building and key pick up is across campus.
- Find out if there will be student helpers with move-in. At many school older students are waiting to lend a hand
- Check the college website to see if there is any parent programming on move-in weekend and what time it begins.
- Before you set off, locate the closest big box store (Target, Wal-Mart, Container Store, Bed, Bath and Beyond…) and a drug store. These will come in handy if you find you have forgotten something. That said, your student can order almost anything they need online and Amazon offers college students six months of free Amazon Prime which includes two-day free shipping. Shop Amazon – Off to College
- Check online what the rental costs are at the university for items like mini refrigerators and microwaves if you are deciding between buying and renting.
- Don’t take all of the luggage home. They will be returning at Fall break or Thanksgiving. Leave a small bag for travel.
Getting The Room Ready
- Make your child’s bed. It is a time-worn parental prerogative and completes the circle from when you first made his crib.
- Tell her why it makes sense to put underwear in the top drawer and sweaters in the bottom but then step back and repeat to yourself, ‘This is not my room. I am not going to live here. This is not my room. I am not going to live here,” as many times as necessary.
- Cleaning wipes are not a bad idea. On many campuses dorm rooms are used over the summer and may not have been well cleaned.
- Make sure that you have read the list for forbidden dorm items and what can and cannot be done to dorm room walls.
- Take away anything he doesn’t think he will use. Bring heavy winter things to family weekend which usually takes place in the all or let him return with them after fall break.
- Slip a letter or short note with words of love and good luck into something that you are not going to unpack.
- Have a hard stop, the hour that you are going to walk away and leave him to begin his new life. Like taking off a band-aid, saying goodbye may need to be done quickly.
- Think about college move in day before it happens, it will take you by surprise. All the tears you may have shed in the previous weeks won’t save you from today. Know in advance how you want to say goodbye.
- Plan for your final alone time before you reach campus, even if it is a quick family meal at a roadside diner or breakfast at the hotel. Once your child finds their room, meets their roommate, is introduced to their RA and their classmates on their hall…their new life has begun.
- Try to remember, through the quivering lip and the boulder in your throat that even if it doesn’t feel that way, this is one of our finest parenting moments.