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Your Child Just Left for College, Now What?

So you bought the necessary dorm supplies (who knew extra-long sheets - let alone bunk beds with extra long twin mattresses - were a thing? Well, of course we did for obvious reasons, but most people don't.), packed up belongings, said your goodbyes and reminded your college-bound student to have fun, study hard and "don't forget to call home to check in!" Now what?

What Do With Your Extra Bedroom Now That You're An Empty Nester

Sending a child off to college is one of the proudest moments a parent will experience, but an empty nest can be a difficult adjustment. You will have more time on your hands to do the things that make you happy, without the added job of being a live-in parent (let's be honest, you'll always be a full-time parent, but now you can telecommute!). Your "young adult" will always be your "little girl," and your home will always be her home. And when she comes home for the holidays, she will need somewhere to sleep. However, excluding the summer months, holiday breaks make up less than two months out of the year, leaving more than 10 months' worth of dust gathering in that unoccupied bedroom. You don't have to remodel her old room the very next day, or even after the first semester. But sooner or later, you'll want to fill that empty space. When that time comes, take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves and get ready to embrace the next chapter.

Three Simple Steps To Clear Out The Room & Break The News

It may seem a bit extreme to turn your child's bedroom into a state-of-the-art workout facility or a dedicated home office. But it would be equally irrational to leave the room untouched, unused and increasingly vulnerable to becoming the family's newest storage closet. Boxes, pictures, clothes - you name it - will find their way into that bedroom. Don't let that happen. If you want to take advantage of that empty room, but you're struggling to break the news to your college student, consider these two simple action steps:

Step one: Keep the important stuff

Establish which items your college-bound child absolutely refuses to throw away (or ask him to help you distinguish them when he comes home for the holidays). Knowing his keepsakes are stored safely will give your student enough peace of mind to let you place them out of sight and most importantly, out of that room.

Step two: Store or discard the rest

Which items will your child need when he or she returns home from college? What items can be placed in storage? Store anything that will definitely be used - not things that can, might, but probably won't, be used. As a rule of thumb: If it can't be stored elsewhere and nobody can make use of it, it's probably safe to donate or discard it.

Step 3: Refurbish & Update The Room

Once you've cleared out the old stuff, you can move forward with your plans to refurbish the vacated space. Neutralize the walls and the bedding. Update the window treatments. If you're going to keep it as a guest room and the mattress is eight years old or older, consider replacing the old dusty one with a new guest-ready model. Or, consider setting your current mattress aside for your child when he moves into his first apartment. The possibilities are endless, but whatever you do, you should feel good about creating a space that makes you happy now that its former purpose has been served.

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