It’s that time of year again. Time to go back to school and, for college freshman, time to fly the nest. If this is the stage you’re finding yourself in as a parent — or will soon — you’ve likely already been thinking about what to do with their old room. (Whether you admit it to them or not.) After all, we live in the Bay Area and space comes at a premium. Even your child should understand that, right? But, here are a few things to consider (as well as a few pieces of advice) before finalizing your plans.
Should You or Shouldn’t You?
Maybe you already have grand plans for the room and can’t wait to erase all signs that a child once lived there. Maybe you plan to leave it frozen in time — a shrine to your student that their own children can one day admire. Or maybe you fall somewhere in between. Either way, it’s worth considering what your child will think. This is already an emotional time of transition and this room has been his/her sanctuary for years. Even if your student says it’s “fine,” it may not be.
Many experts recommend waiting at least a year before making any drastic changes. If that’s not an option, talk to your child beforehand and get them involved in the redecorating as much as possible. Let them pick paint colors, ask for their advice or opinions, and let them go through their stuff themselves to decide what goes and what is kept in storage. The more control they feel they have, the better.
A Good Cleaning. Finally!
It’s ok to feel fear. You haven’t been allowed in the room for years, so you can only imagine what you’ll find. But the last thing you want when your kid moves out is for other critters to move in. So, here’s your opportunity to do the deep clean you’ve always dreamed of. The good news is that you’ll get back all the dishes and silverware you’ve been missing for months. Plus, your student will reap the benefits of a spotless and tidy room when he/she returns. The bad news is...everything else.
A Comfortable Place to Sleep
Whether your child comes home every weekend or only for the holidays, they need a comfortable place to sleep. Nothing feels more unwelcoming than having to sleep on a futon, the floor, or worse — yes we said worse — a fold out couch. Upgrade the childhood bed for something more comfortable and inviting for all guests. Your visitors will thank you and your student will benefit. If you need to maximize space, a Murphy Bed might be perfect. The mattresses are traditionally pretty comfortable and most come with storage shelves which are good for displaying old trophies and photos. And if a sleeper sofa is the only option, do everyone a favor and replace the original mattress with one that won’t leave them sleeping with a bar in their back.
Display the Sentimental Stuff
This can be done no matter the greater plan for the room. While doing your deep cleaning, dig out those old elementary school art projects. Frame certificates and photos. Look for forgotten treasures in the back of the closet that make you smile. Then, use them to create a shadow box or just clear some space on shelves. The memories will serve as a tribute to the room’s original owner and will be a fun way for your child to reminisce when he/she returns home.
As exciting of a time it is, being an empty nester can be hard. Photographer Dona Schwartz did a series of photos of parents standing alone in their child’s room after they had flown the nest. As interesting as it is to see what was done with the space, it’s a bit melancholy. Still, let us be among the first to congratulate you on this momentous milestone, and wish you luck on whatever you decide to do (or not do) with your child’s room.