My Little Boy is in College + Dorm Organization

Sep 5

This post was on my list to write last week, but in reality I was not ready. I flew home Sunday, August 27 after getting him settled and thought I’d spend a couple days taking care of myself. Planned for a calmer week. Give myself time and I’d be well enough to write in a couple days. Turns out I needed over a week to sort of get back to myself. (Honestly, I’m not totally back yet) Best I can describe is I was grieving. It dawned on me Wednesday. Grief. Such a strange feeling because no one passed away and I am going to see him again. Just totally bizarre and, I’ll be honest, am still feeling that way today – over a week later. It’s going to take time.

I’m not sad. I am happy and excited for him. It’s more of a deep raw open wound type of feeling…a feeling of loss yet I didn’t lose anything…I don’t know. Like I said, strange to experience and know it will pass … maybe you have experienced the same. ?? Feel free to share!

Working on this major photo organizing project for our own family has both helped and hurt in the process. For the last month, as I’ve been scanning through digital images, I’m finding gems like this…the day he was born…

How was that almost 19 years ago?

Here’s one from the first couple days at home…I remember thinking there is no way I’m meant to take care of such a tiny, fragile baby. His head fit in the palm of my hand…

I hate to say this because it’s annoying to hear, but TIME FLIES you guys. No matter how much time you think you have, you don’t. It’s a lesson in soaking in the moments. All of them. The good AND the bad phases. Before you know it, that baby boy of yours will be playing in the snow as a toddler…

Then running on the beach as a five year old…

And then getting settled into his new dorm room at age 18…

I’m not going to go on and on with the emotional crap. This week I’ve chosen to focus on the positives of this new phase and chapter of motherhood. And I wanted to document some of the experience of moving him in because it was special and fun to do. AND if you have a child heading to college, I wanted to share what I did to help this process run ultra smooth. No, this isn’t anything close to those crazy dorm rooms we’ve been seeing online. All of Aiden’s friends were heading off to college this year so I saw every parent share dorm room photos and stories on my private social accounts. Some were simple, like ours…others were over the top and looked nothing like a dorm room when they were done. We kept it simple and focused on things that made him feel comfortable away from home while making the most use of a very small space.


Several weeks before move in, I scoured the housing website to see potential floor plans he may end up with. That helped quite a bit. The school’s housing team was helpful with sending suggested packing lists. They let us know what was there already; a microwave, small shared fridge, couch and coffee table, etc. They are in a 6-person suite so this was helpful to know. And they also let us know what we would probably need for their individual spaces. They have a desk, bed and dresser…but likely needed a comfortable mattress topper because the beds are notoriously uncomfortable.

So, I started by reading and researching directly from our school’s website – which is going to be your best bet! Even better = if you know someone who previously lived there. In this case, one of my niece’s went here her first two years of college before transferring. She and my sister were helpful resources.

Anyway, I started making a list and quickly realized what would make the most sense in our situation was buying some stuff on the front end while leaving some things for pick-up or purchase on the other end. This plan worked out very well!

For example, I purchased bedding in advance so that it would be washed and packed here. I also checked the local Target website near his school to see what was in stock or what I should plan to order ahead for pick-up.  We drove his car to school so we had the room to drive down a fair amount. I have the FULL list of dorm items we purchased linked on my Amazon Storefront and Like to Know It.

These bags were clutch in the packing process…

( bags )

As I washed loads of laundry – clothing, towels or bedding – I would fold and place in these bags. They hold a large amount and were convenient / light-weight for hauling up 3 flights of stairs.

What I packed in advance = sheets, lightweight quilt, pillows, 3″ mattress topper, bath towels, beach towels, desk lamp, extension cords, hangers, a hamper, a fan, a lot of medicine he is familiar with, some snacks, school supplies, charging cords, tech stuff, clothing, a basketball, golf clubs and room decor that he wanted from his bedroom here. Everything else was going to be purchased based on available floor space in his room.

Locked and loaded for the drive!

We made good time so we spent about four hours that afternoon unpacking and getting through the things we brought with us. Here’s the room before we got started. He lucked out with a room of his own…

We adjusted the bed higher so we could add a fridge and 3-drawer set for his own snacks. I then stacked the four drawers you see – these come apart to sit side x side, but I stacked them so he had more floor space. Essentially creating a tall dresser with a landing spot for some of his things. I took measurements of the shelf over the hanging rod, under the bed and one open wall for a potential shelf. By end of day one we had made a solid Target run and were sitting in good shape!…

I was so tired that night. He stayed in the dorm with one of the boys and I left him to enjoy his new space until we tackled more on day two.


On day two we were up and going again. We grabbed a small fridge and drawer set from Target. I also purchased and assembled a six-cubby shelf to create more space…

The bins over the hanging section hold extra bathroom supplies, laundry products and medicine. Adding vertical storage with a hanging shoe organizer was a smart move…helped a lot because floor space is limited!…

You can see he still has plenty of room under the bed if needed….

At the end of day two, I knew I wanted a quick photo of us. Not knowing how I would feel the next day…which is the day I would be leaving…one of his roomies snapped this for us. He was so happy with the room and was VERY ready for mom to take off…

We had dinner together as a family that night, which was really fun and special…

On the third and final day, we did a little clothing shopping, picked up a new laptop, walked the school campus, had lunch and then headed out. An incredibly special weekend getting our boy moved into his dorm for his first year.

His Dad and I said to each other we’d give him space and let him reach out when he wanted. I was not expecting to hear from him for a few days but not a day passed last week when he didn’t call or text. On some occasions, giving us a blow by blow of exactly what he was doing. It certainly helped with some of the transition for mom. 🙂

As mentioned, you can find everything linked on Amazon or LTK if you’re interested in anything we purchased. We really kept it simple and didn’t go overboard…he was VERY happy with the outcome.

Hope you had a relaxing 3-day holiday weekend! To work through some of my feelings I started decorating for Fall. That will be my next post…keeping it light and bright this year. Not sure how this happened but I had NO fall decor. Maybe I donated all of my stuff last year? Hard to believe I can’t remember. lol!

Back soon with more guys!



comments +

  1. Tina B says:

    I completely understand the deep sadness you’re feeling. It hit me like a ton of bricks (and from out of nowhere) when my daughter got married. I love my son-in-law (I couldn’t have picked a better man for her) and they’d been living together for a couple years, so I was surprised when I woke up the morning after their wedding with a feeling of deep grief. It took a week or two for me to pull myself together. No one warned me about this unexpected emotion…

    • Samantha says:

      Hi Tina,

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience / feelings. Totally get it! And can relate. Such a strange and unexpected emotion, as you said.


  2. Holly M says:

    Oh Yes! I mourned/grieved when my oldest moved away to college 2 years ago. I cried every day for several months beforehand as well. Every time she came home for the weekend I would cry when she left, same for when we visited. She just started her Junior year, and I am doing much better now- lol. It’s taken me 2 years! I still want her home, but I always remind myself, it’s ok for me to be sad so that she can be happy. Praying for your Momma heart!

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