Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dorm Room Organization

As a semi-recent college graduate I remember the joys and the agony of spending an entire year living in a dorm room (I can't believe I survived!!). It's sure an exciting time in a young adult's life, but some basic organization will do any dorm room wonders. Clutter can accumulate quite quickly, especially in a college dorm, but it will begin to overpower a teeny tiny dorm room very fast if it gets out of hand.

The most important thing to think of is the layout of the room. This is so vital because dorm rooms are so teeny tiny that you must make the most out of your space to take advantage of the organizational potential. In my dorm room we were able to loft our beds. Under my bed went the futon and the comfy chair with storage ottoman and under my roommate's bed was the refrigerator, microwave and our food storage area plus one of our sets of stackable drawers. We wouldn't have been able to successfully have all of the things in our dorm room if we weren't able to loft the beds.

An absolute MUST in dorm life is at least one set of stackable drawers. Target and Bed Bath & Beyond have a huge selection of these (and they're probably on sale right now!). My dorm room had two sets in different sizes. One of the sets of drawers in my room was bright orange, which added a nice flare to the stark and dingy looking room. We stored supplies like tape, 3-M hooks, batteries, shower products and even clothes I think.

I do have to credit my roommate for pretty much all of the wonderful organizational items found in our dorm room. She brought most of them! And she is very creative so everything worked wonderfully.

My roommate brought in this great set of stacking cubes. We used these to store food in. These would also work well to store clothes, shoes, school supplies, books and shower products in.

The closets and the built in storage in my dorm room were actually quite substantial. Each of us had two sections of closets to store things in. Needless to say we had a lot of room to hang our clothes! I also employed a shoe tree and somehow hung it in my closet (mine is supposed to be an over-the-door shoe tree...). It worked really well, and I highly recommend if you're bringing a lot of shoes to college to use a shoe tree or some kind of shoe organizer.

One thing that I didn't think about at the time of my freshman year was over-the-door hooks. My roommate came prepared and brought two different sets. We used one on the back of our dorm door and the other was hanging from her bed (remember it was lofted). These were so amazingly handy to have! We used them to hang our backpacks, jackets, sweaters and big winter coats and scarves (we went to school in Iowa) from.

Under-the-bed storage is wonderful, especially in a dorm room. Since our beds were both lofted and hanging from the ceiling we couldn't really store things under our bed (well I suppose we could have...) but we did have a futon on the ground that we used to store things under. We used clear plastic containers to store little odds & ends in and then housed them under the futon.

If you need more tricks for dorm room organization, look to the upper classmen. I did take a lot of my current knowledge from their advice and experience as freshmen living in the dorms.

When it comes to dorm room organization, the name of the game is creative. You must be creative because you're working in such a small space, usually with limited resources and you're combining two people's things in to a tiny space big enough for a mouse to live in.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Get Organized for Back to School!

I absolutely cannot believe that it is almost the start of the school year. One thing I love about the emerging new school year is the back-to-school sales at the department stores, Target and the like, in addition to the Labor Day sales everywhere else. And, it means that the ski season is that much closer! I am no longer in school myself, nor do I have children; however, I do remember as a student how much I looked forward to preparing to go back to school.

The shopping was what I most looked forward to. I loved going shopping for fresh new clothes to prepare for the new school year, as well as stocking up on the latest school supplies to carry me into the next grade-level.

If your kids are in elementary school, chances are they will have a school supply list. Head to Target or your choice of "everything store" sooner rather than later for the best selection. School supplies sell out FAST! Make sure you bring the list, all though many Target's have teacher's supply lists posted near the school supply station. If you have older children or are a student yourself figure out what you will need for classes this year - how many different notebooks? Do you need a 3-ring binder for all of your class work? What about a planner or calendar? How is your stock of pens & pencils? Will you need a calculator for upper-level math courses this year? Do your teacher's require book covers (I suggest using a paper bag!)?

Back-to-school clothes. If you've got kids you should know the drill. They grow fast and need new clothes often. Trends change and they've got to look their best! Plan a "back-to-school day" with the kids (even better: plan a day with each kid separately for quality bonding time/less fighting between siblings) where you go clothes shopping, shoe shopping and school supply shopping. Make it fun for them and let the little one's have a say in picking out their own stuff.

Uniforms can be found at so many different outlets these days. I remember when I was in private school how I just loathed the uniforms I was required to wear! My mom had the (ugly green plaid) skirt hemmed so it wasn't quite so atrocious. If you have a growing child who is in a uniform, stock up early, as sizes tend to sell out fast as the school year approaches. Consider buying the size your child(ren) currently wears and the next size up so you are prepared when he suddenly grows out of his pants. The same should be true for shoes. Don't forget about gym shoes and gym clothes!

Does your state charge sales tax on clothing? Some states that do have a "free tax" weekend near the start of the school year. I only know this because I went to college in Iowa and they had a no-tax weekend right before school started. Look into this for a great incentive to go back-to-school shopping!

I think it's a wonderful idea to have a family pow-wow before school resumes to discuss the transition and the schedule changes. Bring a large calendar or dry-erase board to the discussion and talk about transportation to & from school, after school care, after school activities/sports/events, schedule a time for homework and reading each evening and don't forget to include family dinners and family fun nights! It's wonderful to have a schedule written out on a calendar to avoid miscommunications and missed activities. This way, everyone can see what's going on each day. I love color-coded schedules! Also, don't forget to lay out expectations for chores and household responsibilities at this family meeting as well (I love reward charts for kids) and build time into the schedule for this to take place.

Make sure that you/your kids know their bus schedule, class schedule, any arrangements for after school care, have parking passes obtained (if they can drive), have a check for school lunch in their backpack and have a water bottle and snack to take with them to school.

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