Originally published August 4, 2016 and updated July 15, 2019
I have received information and materials from JOHNSON & JOHNSON CONSUMER, Inc., McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division, LLC. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post. #PositivelyPrepared #BacktoSchool #CollectiveBias
Who needs dorm move-in day tips? I do! Even though my focus for the past month has been to get my second “baby” ready to head of to her first year of college, I am not ready for her to go. Not ready, at all. As a mom, I will never really be ready (despite the fact that this is exactly what we’ve been working towards for 18 years).
Fortunately, I did learn many tricks when I took my first baby off to college that will help me when I take my second baby to college in a couple of weeks by myself. My experience with more than 20 military moves certainly helps, too. These dorm move-in day tips make the move-in experience go so much more smoothly and help save my body from the physical strain of moving all her many, many things.
My husband’s work schedule doesn’t allow him to take time off in August, so that means that I’m always the one moving my baby into her dorm room alone. Just little ol’ me and my baby… all alone.
Since I’m a planner and a problem solver, I’ve figured out these dorm move-in day tips to make the move-in process easier for us. An easier move-in process means I can spend those precious last hours focused on my baby not wrestling her stuff.
Just look at this pile of schtuff that I have to pack into a car, drive 10 hours across state lines and then hike up way too many flights of stairs. And because we live so far away, my baby’s pile of schtuff is on the smaller side of what I’ve seen other families show up with on move-in day.
Unless your baby is moving into a one-story dorm, accept the fact that you’ll be carrying things up way too many flights of stairs. There is only one elevator in the vast majority of dorms and there will be a long line waiting to use the elevator. At some point I always get tired of waiting and end up carrying things up the stairs. I pack items with this in mind.
Most colleges have laundry carts on wheels for you to use to move your things from the car to your the dorm room. I always sign up for a laundry cart first thing when we arrive since there’s often a waiting list to get a cart.
Check out my 25+ Top College Tips for Success – all my best tips, hacks and information.
Dorm Move-In Day Tips
A critical part of making dorm move-in day a success is knowing how to pack for college move-in.
Pack Items into Boxes and Bags
Loose items are more difficult to move, so I pack everything I can into a boxes and bags. Putting loose items into boxes or bags helps keep items from getting lost during transport.
Use Boxes with Built-in Handles
I pack my baby’s things in tubs and boxes with handles. I choose boxes that are smaller to make them easier to carry. I prefer to use cardboard document boxes. The boxes can be stacked two or three high when you carry them and the handles make them easy to carry. Boxes are also easier to pack into my car and in the laundry cart because they stack neatly.
Use Bags with Handles
Some items fit better into a bag and I pack those items in cloth, repurposed plastic shopping and paper bags so I can carry them more easily. The handles of this large tote allow me to carry multiple bags in one trip. Bonus – this tote works great as a college laundry bag and for dorm room storage.
Put Smaller Items Inside Other Items
I pack smaller items inside other items, like the trash can to reduce how many separate items I have to carry. This helps reduce the number of trips moving in and out of the dorm (and up and down the stairs).
Use a Collapsible Hand Truck
Trust me, this is a back and life saver and a collapsible hand truck and bungee cords from Amazon are surprisingly inexpensive. If you only listen to one of these college move-in day tips. this is the one to pay attention to. Really.
Label All the Items
Many colleges have students volunteer to help unload cars and help with dorm move-in. The volunteers will often run your student’s items quickly up to the dorm room while you go park the car. I appreciate that help (and treasure every box I don’t have to carry myself), but I want to make certain that every single one of my baby’s precious items end up in her room.
I choose brightly colored washi tape and label every box and item that we pack. Placing my baby’s name and room number on each item makes it easier for the helpers to deliver her things to my baby’s room. Choose removable tape in distinctive colors (not just whatever generic masking or painter’s tape you have laying around:
While I want to look fashionable to meet the new parents and make a good impression, this is a time to dress practically more than fashionably. It will be hot as heck and I’ll be bending over, lifting, carrying and doing lots of walking and stairs.
I make sure than I can comfortably accomplish all those tasks on college move-in day in my outfit while maintaining my mom-modesty and hopefully look somewhat fashionable, too.
Plan How You Load the Laundry Cart
Packing most of the items in boxes makes loading the laundry cart much easier. Stack heavier boxes on the bottom and lighter ones on top. The laundry carts are deep, so don’t put a heavy low-profile item on the bottom of the cart or you’ll look like a cartoon figure (with your legs kicking wildly out of the top of the cart while the rest of your body is down in the cart) trying to lift the item out. Ask me how I know.
I make sure not to load the cart so it’s too heavy since I have to push the cart about two blocks and up and down several sets of curbs.
My How to Fold Clothes ebook is a huge help to college students. It’s like having mom there, even when she’s can’t be.
Take A Parent Care Kit
Move-in day is all about my baby (and it should be) but I plan to take care of myself on move-in day, too. Move-in day is tough emotionally and physically, too. Planning ahead allows me to have everything I need so that I can focus on my baby not how thirsty I am or on my aching back.
I pack a snack bag with water bottles and granola bars. I always plan on taking my baby out to eat (and spend a few precious last minutes together), but the enormity of moving in and setting up all my baby’s stuff often means we’ll end up eating and drinking whatever I bring.
I pack a took kit so that I have everything I’ll need to set up my baby’s dorm room. I’d rather bring a tool kit and not need it than not bring it and wish that I had.
Knowing how physically tough it can be to move all my baby’s things out of the car, into a laundry cart, up way too many flights of stairs and into her room, I plan for my aching body (and emotions) by making a parent care kit.
I put my dorm move-in day parent care kit in a small brightly-colored bag, like this repurposed sweater bag, to make it easier to find in the chaos of moving.
Dorm Move-in Day Parent Care Kit
- Tissues – Just in case I, uh, get something in my eye.
- Bandages – I’ve found I needed them for my feet, my knee and my hand on past move-in day experiences.
- Gum or Mints – A little pick-me-up is welcome on such a busy, overwhelming day.
- Ultra Strength BENGAY® Cream – Use on move-in day and the day after to temporarily soothe minor aches and pains of muscles and joints. I’m not getting any younger and my muscles can use some soothing during move-in day. Use for adults and children 12 years and older and only as directed.
- TYLENOL® 8 HR Muscle Aches & Pain – It’s perfect for move-in day since it provides strong and fast pain relief. acts fast and lasts all day* (*up to 8 hours) to relieve muscle aches and body pain. Always use only as directed.
- MOTRIN® PM – It helps the night after move-in day by combining powerful medicine to relieve minor aches and pains with an effective sleep aid. Be aware that it is for adults and children 12 years and older and always use only as directed.
We’ve been making several trips a week to Target to pick up items that my baby needs for her dorm room, so it was easy to pick up exactly what I needed for my parent care kit. I found the Ultra Strength BENGAY® Cream, TYLENOL® 8 HR Muscle Aches & Pain, and MOTRIN® PM in the health and beauty section.
I partnered with a friend to create College Cookbooks designed for busy college students. Each one has 14 quick and easy meals that will feed 2 people. That means if you’re cooking for one, you’ll have leftovers for lunch or busy nights when you don’t have time to cook.
With these dorm move-in day tips, you and I will be ready to take our babies off to college. Be sure to pin now so you can find these tips when you need them most – on college move-in day.
You also want to go ahead and pin these tips for Moving Out of the College Dorm. You know you’ll need them later.