College Move-In Day: Tips & Helpful Items

Hello, my ah-mazing empty nest friend!
Here we go. Move-in day:  it looms ahead in the distance and then suddenly – WHACK – here it is. We are hit with the balance of being excited for our child as they begin their next adventure and the heavy emotions that arise when you realize they won’t be in your home to check up on anymore.
With my daughter heading into her junior year of college, bittersweet sums up my feelings this time of year. I’m unbelievably thrilled for where she is in life and feel her independence acutely. This makes me proud, happy, and excited for her. I can’t wait to see what she does. 
Will I miss her? Oh my goodness, you betcha! But this journey isn’t mine, it is hers, and it opens up my life to be sure I am on the right path moving forward. Sure, it can feel like part of me is breaking off but this experience allows both her and I to grow in ways that we couldn’t if she were to not be who she is meant to be. 
Whew, though, those emotions that come up – when you least expect them, they can be brutal.
My recommendation is to observe them and don’t run from them. Ignoring the emotions will create a resistance that has them always wanting to bubble up – but by noticing them, claiming them and processing through them, you become powerful! I know that you are strong enough to get through those emotions– no matter what they are. 
Anyway, below, I share with you five things that, being in year three of this journey, I have found helpful, or that I wish we had thought of earlier for move-in.
Our situation is that our daughter’s college is five hours from home, and we have a minivan to move things – so things that I find useful, may not apply to you. As always, take what I offer and consider if it will benefit your life. 
The following information is about the “stuff.” Life skills are a pretty big deal, and I talk about that in episode 32 of my podcast: What Life Skills Does My Child Need For College? My podcast is all about helping mothers through this transition, so if you are having a difficult time, I invite you to take a listen!
As always, Google will provide you with an overabundance  of information on what you should pack for college. I can’t possibly cover all of that, but I’d like to share with you my top five items. Also, two recent posts that I have found helpful are: 
My list below does contain affiliate links. By using my links, you support my podcast. Thank you!
Below are my top five college move-in essential items:


These are the fantastic Ikea bags that we’ve had for years (before college). They are excellent to throw things in (bedding/pillows in particular), and they easily store in a dorm room. I had no idea you could get them with zippers, too!


Command hooks and poster strips are unbelievably helpful. A place for keys? Got it! Need to put up an important piece of paper you got at move-in that you are afraid you’ll lose? Use a poster strip (there is a variety of sizes, too)!


I love, love, love this wagon. This is one of the items that I purchased in year two of my daughter’s college years, and I wish I would have had it earlier. It was life-changing. There were days where I’d make the trip to her school and back in one day. Without the wagon, I was EXHAUSTED. With the wagon, it was a breeze because I didn’t even have to pull the thing – someone else always offered!


A toolkit is one of the things you think you won’t need, but in life’s rogue moments, a screwdriver would be incredibly helpful. It won’t only help your child (if you leave it with them), but if others find out they have a toolkit, there is a natural way to meet new people. We don’t have this specific kit, but it is an example of one.


No link here. This is a reminder to pad your time on move-in and move-out days to allow yourself and your child the flexibility to stop and chat with others; take advantage of something you may not have foreseen, should the moment arise; or, run to a local store if you see they need something. It gives all of you the freedom to be flexible. Also, other than taking a few photos, this is a lovely opportunity to stay off your phone and be fully present.

What are your top items for move-in? I invite you to share below.

Check out My Podcast

All College Topic Podcast Episodes:

You are preparing for the empty nest ahead as your child(ren) prepares, heads off to, and experiences college.

College Moms Conversation on The Scholarship Shark Podcast

Recently, I was a guest on the Scholarship Shark podcast!

The lovely Pam Andrews hosts this podcast and invited a couple of amazing ladies and me to share our thoughts and experiences as college moms. I had a tremendous amount of fun chatting with Pam, Monica, and Debbie!

Take a listen to The Scholarship Shark, episode #92 wherever you listen to podcasts or click here to listen now, via her website.

All College Topic Podcast Episodes:

You are preparing for the empty nest ahead as your child(ren) prepares, heads off to, and experiences college.

Getting Ready to Send Your Child Off To College? Open When Letters!

This post was originally posted on my old blog in September of 2017.

These take some time to make but are completely worth it. Google Open When Letters for a ton of ideas on how to use them. They make fantastic going away presents.

These were part of my daughter’s going away gift for college.

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You are preparing for the empty nest ahead as your child(ren) prepares, heads off to, and experiences college.

Changes in four years since I first created this page: moved twice as a family, navigated all four years of out of state college for daughter (now graduated), I lost weight, started taking better care of myself, started working full-time while building this business, turned 50-years-old, hubby above is now ex-hubby, got a great new job, cranked out 150+ podcast episodes, attended my first podcasting conference, spoke at the next one, and just bought a manufactured home for me (and my daughter for as long as she needs to be there) to live in, changed my last name, podcast hit 100K downloads, and I’m working on a book!

Empty Nest Success doesn’t always look like over the moon happiness. Sometimes, it looks like accepting what is, processing emotions, and moving forward as peacefully as possible with little drama – and that feels amazing!