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Melissa Schmalenberger

Ms. Simplicity: Organization key in college dorm rooms

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variety Fargo, 58102
Fargo ND 101 5th Street North 58102

I have reached that time when another child is about to leave the nest. Having this child leave is much harder than the previous one, because I know how I will feel afterward.

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With my oldest, I was excited and told by a friend to only cry tears of pride and joy. And I did. But then a few weeks went by and family mealtime and so many other things were different.

He was a good eater, and I could experiment with food, and he ate it. His brothers didn’t eat my grand meals, and it was no longer fun to cook dinner. Our family had changed forever. Now another is going to fly away.

I am counting down the days, and I am sad. Our family is again going to be changed forever. Our family was changed forever each time we had one of our sons. When we welcomed a new baby into our home it was a joyous occasion. We were adding, now we are subtracting.

But I will put a brave face on and make sure that when he leaves he will have everything he will need to have an organized dorm room. I can control that. I can’t control how I will feel. So as someone who enjoys control, I will focus on what I know I can do. I can make a list. I can buy stuff. I can make organizing decisions.

My friend Geralin Thomas of Metropolitan Organizing, LLC, has created a fantastic checklist that we will print off and take with us. I will put this checklist on a clipboard and get to work!

Here is a look at what we have started to accumulate in the past few weeks. We have a box of stuff that I am placing things in as I buy what is on the checklist.

1. A good area rug. This is often overlooked, but dorm floors are often industrial, and students need a soft place to land when they hop out of their lofted beds.

2. Bedding. I have all boys. They don’t need anything special. My mom made each of my boys a quilt when they graduated – that is special. A pillow, a set of sheets and a mattress pad. My son is getting the sheets from his older brother, as he has moved out of the dorm and no longer is in a twin bed.

We have an extra twin mattress pad, so done with that category! Sometimes you need twin long sheets, so make sure. If you have a daughter, you have my prayers. They will be coordinating with their roommate and they will plan on having it look like a dorm good enough for HGTV.

3. Bath items. A few large towels, wash cloths and a shower caddy as well as flip-flops. I think a robe is optional, as I bought large towels. When deciding on a robe, I think it all depends on the length of the walk from the shower to the room and if they are a boy or a girl.

When I graduated, my mom bought me several sets of brown towels as a graduation gift. It was the worst gift a girl could get. I wanted pink. She gave me practical. I bought my son green that resemble brown. I am my mother!

4. Electronics. Roommates usually try to coordinate who will bring the TV and gaming systems if you have boys. I have an odd child that does not watch TV but listens to podcasts. He also doesn’t play many video games. I know this is a rarity, so plan accordingly.

We found that my oldest had a laptop when he left for college, but by his second year he wanted a Surface. A Surface is more portable and easier to take notes on in class. So we will probably skip the laptop purchase with this child.

5. Hooks. Take advantage of that vertical space. We should have bought stock in 3M, as these hooks are genius. My best tip is to put one by the door to hang the keys. They can be used to hang cords from the walls and along beds. Buy a bunch in different styles as you will thank me later.

I also sent along an over-the-door hook to hang up towels and jackets.

6. Desk organizers. They are usually given desks and are expected to study there. They never do. I think desks should leave dorm rooms. Most people gather in common areas to get their homework done.

But if you have a desk, look at ways to make good use of the space. Pencils and pens are sometimes still used, so best to find a way to store a few. For my oldest, it was highlighters that he used most as everything is typed.

Make sure that you frame a picture of yourself and place it on their desk so they don’t forget what you look like!

7. Extra storage. Think TV stands and microwave carts. There is often storage here that should be maximized. When out shopping for one, look for drawers and good use of space. Don’t just buy it because it looks nice – think practical. They even make futons with drawers underneath for storage.

8. Closet storage. I am not a fan of the slim hangers, as I think it encourages people to buy more clothes because they have more room. But in the case of a dorm-room closet, I encourage these hangers. I have purchased two boxes as this son of mine likes clothes.

I also have hanging files made for closets with storage in them as well. He can roll sweaters and pants and place them in the pockets. We are all about maximizing that small space.

I have locker baskets as well as a set of black, quilted boxes with lids for storing items like socks and underwear that can stack. Just remember one thing – you have been preparing for this transition for 18 years. They are smart and wise young adults who know how to figure things out. We have been silently showing them how to do things like an adult.

They know how to troubleshoot something that is broken by watching a YouTube video. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to have everything on move-in day. Whatever you forget, they will call you and ask for you to mail it or money to buy it.

So forget a few things so that you are guaranteed a call home!

Ms. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger, operates her business as I Did it with Ms. Simplicity. She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo. Email her at melissa@mssimplicity.com.

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