5 Things Your Son Needs for College (Not)

My son is leaving for his freshman year of college in four just a few days (who’s counting?).

I may have blogged about it a few times here and there (and maybe here too).

Some of you are overly concerned for my well-being after he leaves. I’ve been finding business cards from mental health professionals left under my front door mat.

I’m pretty sure that was Dr. Phil tailing me in his BMW as I drove to Starbucks yesterday morning to drown my sorrows.

But seriously, this is an exciting time for all of us.

For him because he gets to realize his dreams, get started on his future, move away from his oppressive parents, leave home just as his little sister hits her teens, stay up as late as he wants, and drink as much Dr. Pepper as his stomach can handle.

And for me because I can finally dig through that room, find the carpeting I’m pretty sure we installed twelve years ago, and open the windows to let the fresh air waft away the smell of boy.

I may even find that cat I think we used to have.

In the final days of preparing him to live on his own, we went on a bit of a shopping spree the other day.

His list was long and detailed and (luckily) we already had most of what he needed.

Cha-ching cha-ching.

But apparently there are certain items that a college-bound boy finds no need for, and should a mother mention them? Eyes will roll.

Kleenex tissues He has informed me that these are unnecessary, since he is taking a roll of paper towels.

Shower caddy Apparently no self-respecting dude would be seen with one of these handy totes for carrying your shampoo/shaving cream/toothpaste and brush/etc… to and from the communal bathroom. Who knew?

 Face towel If you’d seen the look of disbelief he shot me when I asked how many face towels he needed you’d have thought I asked him to pick his favorite shade of nail-polish. I suspect this has more to do with how many times he’ll have to do laundry than it does the actual usefulness of the face towel, because he does use one at home.

Ironing board/iron I still remember the cute table-top ironing board my mom bought me when we did our pre-college shopping trip. Come to think of it, I remember ironing things for several of my guy friends, which is probably why they don’t need their own.

Any items in any color other than black This kid’s got a black thing going on…not in a goth way, but just in a I-wear-black-all-the-time way. The only items he’s packing that aren’t black are white bath towels and a white laundry basket. Only because the laundry basket didn’t come in any other colors black.

Of course, this whole experience will not be of any help the next time I send a kid to college.

My 13 year-old daughter has already started listing all of the incredibly cute and colorful dorm room items she is going to get when she goes away in five years.

And I’m pretty sure she won’t want that white laundry basket.


  1. I remember going shopping with my mom. I’m guessing the male version of the experience is quite different. Is he going to be far far away? I hope not. I’m only two years behind you. I will be turning to you for much needed guidance over the next few years. Good luck with finding the cat.

  2. Ah yes, the college dorm room. I loved outfitting mine, but it was more along the lines of what K’s will look like in 5 years, instead of M’s. 🙂 Happy shopping!

  3. Ahhhhh! Each new stage is so bittersweet! Boys are so easy and laid-back. I love that, but LOVE shopping for colorful, monogrammed towels too!

  4. Lol. My son is a junior in college and he actually used the shower caddy. But, everything had to be blue, including his bedding and his towels. When he was a Freshman I got the eye roll for the clorox wipes (for the one and only time he (I!) would clean his room). Though forward fast two years, I get a call today that he bought…ta…da…clorox wipes to do some cleaning in his dorm room! My daughter (senior in high school) has been making a dorm room “wish list” for years. This is gonna get expensive 🙂 Can you say almost empty-nester?

  5. Tell your son to use the toilet paper instead of the paper towels. Much softer. 😉

  6. Oh my residence hall room…how I loved you! He’s right if he plays it right he will never do laundry or iron for 4 yrs…I too am guilty of ironing for the boys on my floor. I am so excited for all of you..it really is an exciting time…and it’s going to be ok. We are all here to read you through it!!!! Xoxo

  7. I don’t want to think about college…. my daughter will be there in a few years and I just don’t want to think about it yet. It’s to scary.

    The shopping part might be fun though!

  8. Brings back many memories and why didn’t I know you ironed in college? Now I have to share this with my sister in law who is reeling from sending her second child off to college. And yes, my nephew and your daughter now have a lot of traumatic things in common being the youngest and onliest. PS I finally figured out who was homesick and it isn’t either of my nieces….

  9. This brings me back to my shopping for college experience. Mine was different though, since I wasn’t living in the dorms. Still, I was a fan of all things colorful then, and still am now. I would shop well with your daughter, not so much your son.

  10. Hmmm…. I still don’t really use an ironing board. 😉

    Hang in there, mama!

  11. I STILL do NOT iron. EVER. I told Josh when we got married that I will never iron a damn thing for him.

    I almost spit my water across my computer screen when you told me Dr. Phil was tailing you! Ha!!!

  12. That wasn’t Dr. Phil tailing you through Starbucks in a BMW.

    That was me.
    (In my dreams. I love Starbucks and BMW’s.)

    Good luck with the move, my friend.
    (I’ll be thinking of you in just a few – four – days…)

  13. Funny stuff!
    When I took my son off to school 2 years ago, everything was very practical. A standing mesh laundry hamper, a dresser that would fit into his closet. We rigged a shelf for his top bunk with an extension cord that he could clip a lamp to and plug his phone up. My husband could not understand why we had to drive 10 hours to accompany him to college. He just couldn’t get that it was a “mom” thing. Had to make sure my boy was set. Oh and we went to the grocery store. Lots of ramen noodles and cereal.
    Flash forward to last month. I moved youngest daughter, 18, 3 hours from home. She is sharing an apartment. I spent an entire day helping her set up her room and bathroom, lol!
    10 steps to a happier mama

  14. Better than wanting to use Kleenex as a paper towel?!?

  15. Hee! Love this! I can only imagine the looks and the eye rolls!

    But girlfriend, the love? That’s clear!


  16. Don’t tell anybody, but when I iron, it’s usually not on the big ol’ ironing board I have — I throw a towel on the carpet and do it there! #Loser

  17. Perhaps you could order some face towels/Kleenex/shower caddy etc. In black? 🙂

  18. Well, when I lived in the dorms, which were coed, many moons ago, I never did see any of the guys carry a shower caddy. We were lucky to see them carry a towel.

  19. I STILL don’t use an ironing board! Tell him to use toilet paper instead. Paper towels are much too abrasive on your skin!

  20. HA! A shower caddy – I am dying. So are you converting his room into a space of your own? My mom took exactly 72 hours to make my room into her crafting/sewing room. LOL

  21. I was with you until you mentioned your daughter leaving in 5 years. Our daughters are the same age. I can’t handle that.

  22. Oh I am so glad to see a light-hearted post from you this week. I may be among those worried that I need to send you a gift card to a therapist :). You are such a loving, connected mother to your kids, kleenex box and ironing board included. xo

  23. I LOVED shopping for college stuff. I was the opposite, though; I wanted absolutely any and everything that I saw labeled as being for a dorm room. I obviously forgot that a dorm room was the size of that box of kleenex he doesn’t want.

    Good luck to him (and to you.) It truly is a special time in your lives 🙂

  24. So cute! I love how serious he is in his man-ness. It’s perfect. Thinking of all of you guys these days.

  25. I remember going shopping with my mom for my college apartment. It was so much fun!! We got wall decor, new bedding, new bathroom stuff. All of it! Did I mention it was fun?

    I can only imagine what it will be like when I take my boys for the same trip. I’m sure if I am able to buy them a new toothbrush I will be happy!

  26. This was so cute!! I can see my sons having aversions to these same things. I love the hand towel comment. Ha!

  27. I lived in an all-girls dorm, so I saw shower caddies all the time. I mean, it’s much more convenient, right? Boys are so weird.

  28. I laughed all through this post! I think your son and my son may be related, mentally, socially and emotionally, if nothing else! With the exception of the love for black, they sound like fraternal twins separated at birth! Oh my goodness! You have no idea how many times I hear the phrase, “You wouldn’t understand, mom. It’s a guy thing.” Whatever. 🙂

  29. Paper towels instead of kleenex – such a teen/college kid mentality! And I’m still no ironer either. Sometimes I get embarassed, mostly I just buy wrinkle free. 🙂

  30. Gotta love the girls view on dorm room deco… lol

  31. I never found a friend who was willing to iron for me (or, perhaps, more accurately, I never asked anyone to iron for me). So, I started only buying wrinkle-free clothing.

    I did use a shower caddy, though – the first time you drop one of your shower supplies on the way to/from the shower, “cool” no longer matters.

    Did he remember flip-flops FOR the shower?

  32. I am definitely not looking forward to the next stage of monkeys life. And thats just pre-K. And the ironing thing? Yeah…I still dont iron. That started when I went away to college. Oh the habits we form there

  33. thankfully I have more than 10 years before lulu and bubba are packing up and shipping out – for college or any other endeavor on their own. I think I will enjoy the few years I can while they are little and try to remember this list when they get older!


  34. Looking back I remember the shopping trip with my parents being incredibly special when I was preparing for college.
    Now that I’m a mom I can see how emotional is must have been for them.