I guess you could call this is a kind of Cinderella story of sorts. It is the tale of how a little pink plush monkey was rescued from the bottom of a lowly trash bin. She managed to escape by a monkey’s hair and rose up to the lofty heights of well… from a toys perspective, let’s just say she is no less loved than Buzz Light Year. Today, she proudly hangs from the door of my 16 year old daughter Emily’s bedroom. She has the important job of greeting and sizing up all who enter. Most of the other plush toys lay squashed a box in the back of her closet with numerous other forgotten stuffed toys. Some plushers are not even that lucky, they have been donated or discarded or much worse… passed on to the dog to slobber on and slowly tear into bits. But Las Vegas Monkey has a different story, she is one of the very few stuffed toys that Emily still proudly displays.
Years ago, before I started my organizing career, Las Vegas Monkey arrived into the arms of my two year old Emily. My husband and I took a business trip to Las Vegas and brought back two little plush monkeys as souvenirs for both of our girls. They loved them for awhile, but eventually they were seemingly lost and forgotten among the other multitudes of toys. One day, I was home alone and decided to do a bit of tidying up of the girl’s bedroom. At that time, combined, the girls must have had about 100 stuffed animals. As I rifled through the pile of trinkets and other debris, I came across Las Vegas Monkey. At that time, Emily mostly ignored this monkey (or so I thought) and I noticed that it's arm was broken, it had been pushed into her body making her look like she had only three limbs and I couldn’t pull it back out. I confirmed the toy to be officially broken. So I ask you, why keep a broken stuffed animal when you have 99 not broken ones to play with? I made an executive decision and tossed it into the trash. “Emily won’t even notice that it’s missing” I told myself. BUT, I was wrong...DEAD WRONG.
Poor Las Vegas Monkey laid there, dirty and broken in the bottom of a trash bag. Not much future lay ahead of her and the only worse fate she could imagine is finding herself in the jaws of the slobbering dog. Exactly one day later, while I was cooking supper, my sweet 4 year old came barreling out of her room with a look of terror on her face. “MOMMY!!!” she hollered, ‘Where is my pink monkey??? I can’t find her anywhere; You didn’t throw her away did you?” She asked this question in a “You wouldn’t do a terrible thing like that would you?” voice. With a guilty stare, I nodded sheepishly. Then I quickly tried to redeem myself by explaining logically to her that the monkey was broken and she had 99 other stuffed animals to play with. That excuse did not work even 1 percent. For one thing, it does not work to explain things logically to a hysterical 4 year old. She fell to the ground, seemingly heartbroken. Then she ran to her room to bawl. At that point, I was pretty sure she was never going to talk to me again. So what did I do? Well, I did what any guilty mamma with a heartbroken child would do... I went dumpster diving.
Fortunately for me, the trash had not yet been picked up. Unfortunately though, I had to search through every trash bag in the dumpster before I found Las Vegas Monkey. I finally found her at the bottom of a trash bag, at the bottom of the dumpster. She was wet and dirty and stinky, and so was I, but I felt victorious just the same. She went into the washing machine, Emily’s heart was mended, and I was forgiven...mostly.
Over the years, Emily has grown very fond of her little monkey, perhaps because she came so close to losing her, or, I like to muse that is because her mommy braved rotten food to rescue her. To this day though, it is not the dramatic rescue or the fact that the monkey was at the bottom of everything that Emily recalls. Nor does she remember how dirty and stinky I got. No, she only reminds me of how horribly wrong it was to toss her monkey into the trash in the first place. It took her along time to trust me again, and just to make me feel even worse, my husband, who is much handier than me at fixing things, managed to fix the monkey's arm after all. Las Vegas Monkey isn’t even handicapped anymore. So that is why today, she can hang gracefully and honorably from Emily’s bedroom door with both arms intact.
What might not mean much to you may be a treasure to another person, and you do not want to jeopardize your loved one's trust. Many of my clients have heard me tell this amusing story, and they know that I never ever recommend making decisions about what to keep and what to let go of for others. You can at best, put any items in question into a box for them to inspect and approve of before they let them go. Children need to make their own decisions as well…most especially, 4 year old little girls.
Organizing College Dorm Rooms; Ideas To Make The Most of Small Spaces
PLAN AHEAD FOR FURNITURE AND DECOR
If you know ahead of time who you are going to be rooming with, talk with your future roommate in advance to avoid duplication of larger items such as furniture, television, microwave etc. You could also discuss decorating, and come up with a style or theme together so that your décor doesn’t clash with what your roommate brings to the room.
Measure the spaces in your dorm room and take photos to ensure that everything you are bringing will fit into the spaces available. Try rearranging the existing furniture or stacking the beds to create more space.
ESTABLISH ZONES WITHIN YOUR COLLEGE DORM ROOM
If possible, create small areas for different activities such as studying, sleeping, entertainment and eating. Store everything that you need for each activity in their assigned zones. For example, for studying, create a place to store pens, pencils, highlighters, a comfy pillow, portable light, glasses, etc. so that you will have everything you need at your fingertips when it is time to study.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF EVERY INCH OF STORAGE SPACE
Bed risers and under the bed storage bins are a great way to utilize the space underneath your bed for extra storage space. Add storage cubicles to the bottom of your closet if you are short on shelf storage. Over the door pocket organizers, are great for extra closet and bathroom storage.
STORE IN-SEASON CLOTHING ONLY
Bring only your summer and fall clothes to school until cooler weather arrives. Take your summer clothes home with you and bring back your winter clothing as the weather changes. You will free up much needed space in your closet if you only store the clothing suited for the current season.
MAKE USE OF HANDY ORGANAZING PRODUCTS
Stackable storage cubes are perfect for college dorm rooms because they not only to give you extra storage space, but can also double as night stands or end tables. 3M command hooks are handy for hanging purses, coats, robes etc., and they can be placed anywhere without causing damage to the wall. Inexpensive plastic portable drawer systems can be placed in your closet for extra drawer space.
USE A CHECKLIST TO ENSURE THAT YOU DON'T FORGET ANYTHING
Visit the following website to print off a checklist of recommended necessities to bring along with you to your college dorm room: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/making-a-decision/off-to-college-checklist. Knowing what to bring will not only ensure that nothing essential is left behind, but will help you to avoid bringing items that you don’t need, that ultimately end up cluttering up your small space. This list is exhaustive, so you won't need to bring everything on the list, think about what you really need and only bring what you will use. You may also be able to share some of these items with your roommate which will save on space.
WHAT TO DO WITH FAMILY KEEPSAKES
Laura is the Owner of Clean & Clutter Free, professional organizing services.