Perhaps you’ve already suspected due to the erratic timing of recent blog posts here at Midlife Rambler, but I’m confirming here today that it’s true: we’re in the Final Countdown of my daughter’s journey to her first year at college.
This is my final child to go off to college, but my first to leave the state. The other two did move out of the house, but actually didn’t even leave the city. I didn’t particularly stress the whole “packing for college” thing. They were both boys, for starters, and couldn’t care less about having a cute comforter. If they forgot something they truly needed, I just took it to them; albeit under the cover of darkness and around the corner from the dorm where I turned over the item quickly before anyone could see.
This time we’re packing for a college 1,000 miles away so the challenges are very different. Here’s a quick run-down of how we’re handling it. I’ll update afterwards with what worked and what didn’t.
- Lists! For just generally brainstorming items, Charlotte and I have been using the iPhone app Wunderlist, which lets you share To Do lists. We’ve been putting in items as we’ve thought about them: bathrobe, shower shoes, laundry basket, etc. About a week ago, I took a blank notebook, which I’m keeping on the kitchen table, and started categorizing the items we’ve been writing down in the app into a series of lists: What We Need to Pack, What We Need to Buy – Clothing, What We Need to Buy – Dorm, What We Need to Do. I could have continued to use Wunderlist for this, but I’m a pretty visual person and I like having the lists right in front of me.
- I put a star by the items we need to buy before we leave Atlanta. Since we’re flying, we’re planning on buying most of our dorm room haul up in New York.
- Before the shopping, the culling. Thank you Marie Kondo! Before we actually even made the list of What We Need to Buy – Clothing, we spent a few weekends this summer going through all Charlotte’s clothes one by one, determining what would go to college and what didn’t make the cut, with an eye (mostly my own eye) toward trying to keep the amount of clothes we end up packing pretty small. We went through everything twice and I’m hoping to sneak in one more session as we’re actually packing.
- Also before the shopping, the planning for cold weather. I have no frame of reference for how to plan for a long stint of truly cold weather. We’ve been relying on articles like this and this to help plan for what Charlotte needs. I’d like to leave New York with her winter coat already bought, but that may not happen.
- Finally! A bit of shopping. We bought her comforter because she had a specific one in mind and picked up a few easily packable things at Ikea and filled in a couple of holes in her wardrobe, but the vast majority of the shopping is going to be done once we get to New York. We’re flying up two days before Move-In day and plan to spend Day 1 shopping for dorm room needs and Day 2 shopping for cold weather clothing.
- Move-In Day. This is the day with the most unknowns. Originally, we planned for just Charlotte and me to go, but at the last minute (literally yesterday), Charlotte asked my husband to join us so he could help out on moving day so he will be helping out. A last-minute ticket to New York isn’t cheap, but I’m glad for the help and even happier that Charlotte wants her step-dad there.
And how is the packing going, you ask? Well, last night I came home from work energized and ready to pack. Instead Charlotte and I watched old episodes of Gilmore Girls and Parks and Recreation and I braided her hair for a full hour. Time well spent.