If you are like thousands of parents across the country, you are getting ready to move your baby into their freshman dorm.
And if you are like us, you feel a little overwhelmed about the entire process. You are probably feeling all the emotions right now: sadness about them leaving home, excitement for what is to come, and trepidation about the entire move-in process.
You may have bought all the things to make their first year great (if not, check out these posts: Dorm Room Essentials For Girls – Must-Haves, Practical, And a Little Fun and Teen Boy Dorm Rooms Essentials – Why You Don’t Need So Much Crap.)
What you may not know is what to do and bring to make move-in day a little easier for both of you.
What you need for an easier dorm move-in day
We were rookies for our first move-in day, and while we’re often over-planners, there were things that we just didn’t think of. Here is our suggested list of move-in day supplies that we now use again (and again!)
Put Together a College Dorm Move-In Kit
This is a game-changer. The last thing you want to do when your nerves are already shot is freak out about trying to find the things you need first.
The last thing you should put in the car (so it’s easily accessible as the first thing to take out) is your move-in kit. We put ours in a clear bin, clearly labeled, obviously, “Move-In Kit.”
Here’s what we included:
- Trash bags-you may want to leave that as something you pick up after, but trust us, bring some with you. You will have a lot of trash and it’s easier to keep the room organized.
- Small tool set/drill/tape measure: You will most likely need to assemble a few storage items or move some things around, and a small tool set that includes both types of screw drivers, a hammer, small wrench, etc. always comes in handy. Also, you may want to bring a rubber mallet in the instance you need to loft your bed. Note: we left this small tool kit behind with them and we were surprised how much they said they used it.
- Zip ties (or twine): Someone mentioned this to me on our first move-in, and I couldn’t imagine what we would use them for, but they are the best! They can help secure headboards, wire racks and black out curtains. We’ve seen people zip-tie power strips to bed posts to keep them neater and use them to hang up fairy lights.
- Cleaning products: Some Clorox wipes, paper towels, and a small broom or vacuum can help clean up messes as they occur. We also loved Magic Erasers to clean up some old scuff marks and other grime (just be careful not to remove paint!) Most of the dorm rooms we’ve moved into have been pretty clean, but it’s always nice to wipe everything down before you move in.
- Scissors/box cutters for opening stuff.
- Doorstopper: While safety is important, a doorstopper makes move-in day so much easier with everyone going in and out. Our kids also liked using it during the day to encourage others to stop by and hang out.
- Command strips, gorilla tape, and rubbing alcohol. If you are going to want to hang stuff, this is the best way to do it. The rubbing alcohol will help the adhesive stick better, especially on older walls.
- Hand sanitizer
- Extension cords: these were great as we set up some of their electronics or needed to charge phones during move-in.
- Rain ponchos/tarps (check the weather!)
- Roll of toilet paper if they have their own suite.
- Advil/tylenol (separate from the simple first aid kit you should leave behind.)
- Shirt change (you will be sweating.)
Other tips to make dorm move-in day easier
We have a few college move-ins under our belt, and here are a few things that we’ve learned along the way.
1. When possible, remove things from the packaging.
It may seem like a good idea to keep everything in its original boxes, but once you are in that crowded dorm room, having boxes all over the place will only make it harder to move around and get organized.
We took everything out of the packaging (except mattress toppers, because those things will expand and take up your whole vehicle!) and packed it up in these blue storage bags. We also tried to label each bag with what was in it (nothing fancy, just taped an index card with terms like fan, hoodies, towels, sheets, etc.)
2. Use clear bins for small loose items.
Our kids had many small, loose items for their desks, snacks, make up, toiletries, etc. We used these small clear bins to store these items for transport and then left a few behind for them to store shoes, snacks, etc. We also taped a piece of paper on the outside where our kids could write down what they put in there each time so we could keep track.
3. Wash everything before you get there.
One of our kid’s roommates did not wash their bedding before they got to school, and when they opened it up out of the plastic, it had a smell to it that stunk up their whole room.
If possible, wash bed linens, towels, and anything else before heading to school. It’s not worth the risk.
4. Tape everything shut
Nothing is more mortifying to a college freshman than having all their belongings spilling out in the middle of the street for all the world to see!
But seriously, tape everything, EVERYTHING, closed. Even containers with snapped lids. Whether you are moving everything in yourself or you have a team of current students lugging your stuff up to your child’s room, you never know when something may fall and open or drawers come crashing out. Simple making tape can help with this.
5. Print out paper labels with the student name/dorm and room number to tape onto each box, bag, or clothing bundle.
6. Pack snacks and water
It is still summer in a lot of places for move-in day, so it’s important to stay full and hydrated. Nothing is worse than a hangry teenager and thirsty father on move in day!
7. Find out if there will be carts, dollys, or wagons you can check out or reserve on move-in day.
If not, bring your own. It saves time and trips up and down the elevators/stairs! Also, bring some bungee cords to keep everything secure on carts and dollys.
8. Leave clothes/coats on hangers
Pro-tip: for the clothes that have to be hung up, simply zip-tie the hangers together, make a hole at the bottom of the trash bag, and cover them up in groups for easy transport. Space was really tight in one of our daughter’s closets, so we bought these space-saving hangers, which worked out great.
9. Pool noodles for the win
Another great tip we got from a fellow parent: attach a pool noodle to the bed frame with a long zip tie and then push it up against the wall. The noodle will stop phones and other items from falling down behind the bed, and often behind desks and other hard to move furniture. Also, we’ve heard of computers that have fallen into the cracks and been damaged.
10. Check for dorm room damage before you move in
Take photos or video before moving anything into your room to ensure nothing is damaged, including paint, furniture, door frames, etc. You do not want your student to be charged for something they did not do, and it might be hard to get someone to check out the damage the day of move-in.
11. Add in some time for shopping
Plan to make a trip to a local store for anything you may have forgotten, snacks, toiletries, etc.
If you’re traveling by plane to move in, take advantage of in-store pick-up options available at many home stores. (Walmart, Target, etc.)
12. Bonus: if possible, leave some cookies or other treats behind
Those last few moments before you leave are HARD, no matter how put together their dorm room is. Leaving a package of cookies for them to share with their new friends is a great way to leave them with a full belly and a full heart.
Don’t worry parents, you got this!
Here are a few other posts parents of teens found helpful during this challenging phase:
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