The First Summer Home
It’s May and spring is finally here: flowers, green leaves and warm weather. Yet spring also heralds in some less than pleasant changes: allergies, spring cleaning and picking up your college student for the summer!
The last academic year was one of firsts, mostly for my daughter but also for the rest of the family. Last fall, I was getting at least 20 texts and three teary calls a day about her terrible, awful, college life. First it was the smelly roommate from hell who never showered or spoke. Then she realized pre-med was not a good major for her since she hated math and science so she had to change her courses. Next hurdle was the college swim team: she was having a hard time getting back in shape. Finally the dining hall food wasn’t working out since she is a vegan and the selection of food she could eat was limited. On top of everything else she was homesick.
Up until spring break she wanted to transfer but magically when I arrived with the SUV in May to bring her home for the summer, she didn’t want to leave. It was a total 180 degrees change. I was ecstatic! Could this positive, happy, well-adjusted 18-year-old be MY daughter. And then I realized she was my child for when I got to her smelly dorm room not one single item was packed.
The above pictures show how the room looked after two hours of hard labor. In all fairness to my daughter she had just finished finals that morning. We came up with a stress-free plan that worked quickly which I will share.
Divide and Conquer
Think of battle. Picture yourself as a commander: you need to divide and conquer. We separated the items into the following piles:
- Trash: old school papers and notebooks that she won’t reuse, mostly used lotions, dying plants, perishable items, cracked glasses and mugs, and anything else that is too gross to bring home. But be sure to check what your daughter deems trash. Mine put a lamp in the pile claiming it just stopped working. I asked if she tried changes the light bulb. She said she didn’t know light bulbs had to be changed.
- Bedding: mattress protectors, foam mattress, sheets, pillows, comforter, sheets and blankets and towels.
- Items she won’t need until she’s back at school: extension cords, lamps, desk organizer, pencil, paper, pens, shower caddy, hangers, laundry bag, over the door hangers, unused command strips, trashcan, etc…
- Clothes she won’t need during the summer: coats,vests, heavy sweaters, pants, tights,
- Sorority clothes, signs and decorations that will go untouched over the summer.
- Team wear and training equipment that wouldn’t be used during break.
All of the above items can be stored in plastic containers or magic vacuum bags. If they need to be cleaned, as did all her bedding and towels, she has to wash then reseal them in magic vacuum bags when we get home. I found magic bags at Target but different brands are available at most large discount stores. I bought the largest size.
You will need a vacuum cleaner to suck all the air out of the bag. Of course my daughter didn’t have a vacuum cleaner or know if there was one available in the dorm so instead of lugging my heavy upright model (which would also take up valuable space in the car) I found a compact Oreck 5 lb. vacuum that is easy to carry.
Toss into bags or leave on hangers
All her other clothes that needed to be cleaned and/or would be used doing the summer were thrown into the vacuum bags. Some of her clothing such as item requiring ironing were left on the hangers and put into a large garbage bag with the hooks of the hangers sticking out. Then we wrapped an elastic band around the tops of the hangers and tightened the drawstring around the them.
Most schools require the students to take everything of the walls, clean and unplug rental refrigerators and microwaves, wipe down all surfaces and empty the trash.
After that all that was left for us to do was cram everything into the car and have a well-deserved dinner before the road trip home.
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