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Calling experienced college parents :): best dorm accoutrements?


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I know we have threads about this but I’m not looking for a comprehensive list, just a “best of” list. So far I understand we need quick dry  towels (though I hate them so we will mix it up with some Turkish style ones here). DS is going with approx five million containers of tea—best small hot water heater? Small air purifier? I think the ikea frakta bags might make good laundry baskets.

We have storage issues as DS produces music and he has a whole set up he wants to take with him 🙄
 

Edited by madteaparty
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If you’re talking about chamois quick dry towels, I am with you. 🤮 Linen towels dry quickly and don’t feel icky, if you’re looking for an alternative.

Does he need different temperatures for his tea kettle? The DS here has a Cosori that he likes (not exactly compact though) because it is metal lined, but it has only one temperature.

For laundry bags, I like a sturdy duffel with back straps for dirty clothes. The Frakta would be nice for clean, folded clothes.

Also, are you sure he needs an air purifier? Some schools are providing them.

Edited by bibiche
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This was my dd's top college dorm item.  It has multiple uses and can be rolledl it into any little space.  It has now lived in several dorm rooms and apartments.  (These are found all over now.  She got hers at IKEA but I've recently seen them at Target too.)

https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/raskog-utility-cart-white-20382932/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw3v6SBhCsARIsACyrRAmSLyE3urcX-MSkby8beFkYZSc8AGB40qgcQ1dSOCBCKGDXsN8mZ1YaAkJTEALw_wcB

 

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My kid had regular towels and we had some of those large 3M Command hooks to make sure he had somewhere to hang a damp towel.  The quick dry ones are so ungratifying.  He does have beach towels - not so heavy that they take forever to dry.  But large.  And a bathrobe.

The air purifier kept my kid from getting sick in a really gross dorm his first year.  He is still using this one in his room in his apartment as a junior, he likes the white noise element of it too and we just ship him a new filter at the beginning of each semester.  

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07VVK39F7/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

He is still getting a lot of use out of the big blue ikea duffles - for hauling laundry, holiday breaks, storing seasonal clothing under a bed, etc.  

https://www.amazon.com/Ikea-Frakta-Storage-Extra-Large/dp/B00OS47EDK/ref=asc_df_B00OS47EDK/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=193157030383&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=5163227858324021990&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9019541&hvtargid=pla-370177607957&psc=1

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My food allergy kiddo will take a dorm-sized freezer and her own pots/ dishes. ETA- definitely looking for any "BTDT" advice from other food allergy dorm families.

We already have towels (swimmer). I guess a foam mattress topper is a must for her school.

I think I'm limiting her to 14 days worth of clothes or she'll never do laundry. Ever.

She hasn't found a roommate yet, even though she has already made lots of friends. She's an early riser and apparently all the girls who are early risers and otherwise fit her ZeeMee profile are much more religious than she is, so she's treading carefully.

Edited by MamaSprout
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I second the 3 tiered cart. 
Over the door hooks for robe/coat

 One of mine loves their big clear storage pocket organizer. It’s made to hang on the back of the door, but they have it hung under their lofted bed and use it for all kinds of toiletry items, face masks, seasonings.

3M Command Hooks are not allowed at one kid’s dorm, so check that before buying a bunch.

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Oh we invested in a push cart and that has been great for moving and we use at home too.    We also keep a stack of empty storage boxes with covers on hand and that has been useful for move in/move out and they stack well on the cart and in our vehicle.  He usually keeps a couple on his end for less used suff.  A lot of dorms do have carts to use that first move in so that isn't a must have immediately but I've been surprised how much we've used it.  When kid moved apartments last summer his roomies were super grateful DH showed up with that thing. 

Oh the over the door hooks are nice too, kid is still using those.  

After having a covid freshman, pack light, you can always ship them more.   

Edited by catz
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1 hour ago, MamaSprout said:

My food allergy kiddo will take a dorm-sized freezer and her own pots/ dishes. ETA- definitely looking for any "BTDT" advice from other food allergy dorm families.

We already have towels (swimmer). I guess a foam mattress topper is a must for her school.

I think I'm limiting her to 14 days worth of clothes or she'll never do laundry. Ever.

She hasn't found a roommate yet, even though she has already made lots of friends. She's an early riser and apparently all the girls who are early risers and otherwise fit her ZeeMee profile are much more religious than she is, so she's treading carefully.

She could request to room with an athlete!  My dd roomed (by chance) with an athlete her first year, and they often have early-morning workouts which worked fine with my dd, because though not a college athlete, she was an early riser.

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It depends on what all the dorm has- utilize wall space with Command Strips and hooks.  A credenza is nice if it will fit on the desk.

Logistics of laundry- i read a tip to buy the smallest detergent jug you can find, and have them refill as needed in their dorm.  Parents say the pods don't always work well in the machines 🤷‍♀️ DD has 2 of the taller laundry baskets and that's worked well. I also got a rack for hang-dry stuff that she uses all the time, and an over the door thing for drying wet towels.  

Bathroom storage depends on the set-up.  We got quick dry towels, organizing bins, and a make-up holder thing.  

Get what you know they need,  and then wait to see what works best.  If they plan to only live on campus 1 year, you don't need to buy everything.  Mine plans to live on campus 4-years, and has a paid scholarship,  so I am willing to buy whatever fits best in the space bc I know it will be used.  We made a headboard,  but I wouldn't suggest buying one unless you know your kid will use it to sit against.  We did buy a few extra pillows bc I wanted her to have a place to study in her room- she normally studies in libraries or common rooms.  Shoe rack over the closet door saves floor space in the closet for shelves or drawers.   

 

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My dd's dorm doesn't allow command strips and the over the door hooks don't fit on the doors - just something to think about.  

She has been using pods with no problem and finds them easier to carry.  She does use  Ikea Frakta bags to bring laundry back and forth.  

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When we toured DD’s campus recently, the dorm room we saw was a quad! Gah 😩! All I could think of is how terrible it would be for passing along colds/flus to have four college kids sharing that one small space. If my DD gets placed in a quad, the first thing I’ll buy is the biggest/best air purifier I can find.

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Curious about the Command Strip issue, so I immediately go look at the "what you can't bring" list from Mushroom's school. 

This is an excellent list of stuff. Pets, road signs, fireworks, firearms...

But not command strips on the list.

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7 minutes ago, Farrar said:

Curious about the Command Strip issue, so I immediately go look at the "what you can't bring" list from Mushroom's school. 

This is an excellent list of stuff. Pets, road signs, fireworks, firearms...

But not command strips on the list.

Have you said where he’s decided  attend? I probably missed it somewhere!

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22 minutes ago, fourisenough said:

Have you said where he’s decided  attend? I probably missed it somewhere!

I think I did? He chose Clark! I was a little surprised, but I'm happy. I think it will be good. They really woo'ed him. And it's because he didn't apply to any other small LAC type schools because almost none of them have design and game design options. So I was like, well, any LAC would have done this for you. But getting personal notes really helped for him. As did actually having a chance to visit a class. And meeting people in their Discord. Like, he's got a bunch of budding friendships there already. So, I've got a Clarkie! If there are any other WTM Clarkies, PM me, y'all! My kid will not deign to talk to yours, I'm sure because he's independent and thinks homeschoolers are weird (giant eyeroll to that), but I'll connect, lol.

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I would encourage minimalism.  This coming from the mom of a kid in a very very VERY small dorm room.  We are local so I visit periodically and it hurts my head to see how packed some of the rooms are.  Mine is lucky because things not in use can be stored at home and are easily accessible and the roommate also does not have much. Also, one year goes very fast!  Mine will be moving into a large house with tons or space so anything we bought that was dorm-specific would be useless after what seems like a very short time.  

We also found that although command strips are allowed, whatever paint they use seems to be in conflict with the strips.  They don't hold.

Dorms are often overheated so a fan is nice to have.  

Eye mask and ear plugs are good for communal living.

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A small fan and one of those big solid three-sided sit up pillows for reading on the bed were my three kids' faves. They all also liked a reading lamp that has usb charging ports.

https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/therapedic-oversized-backrest-pillow/3317111?

https://www.staples.com/limelights-incandescent-desk-lamp-with-usb-port-black-ld1056-blk/product_24288833?

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The thing my dd most missed having was a George Foreman grill or a toaster oven (or both if you have room). She's a vegetarian and would like to make her own food sometimes. She did have a mini fridge and microwave but she missed being able to make something with a crunch. Many dorms may ban these so check the list.

If you have an en suite bathroom in your room, it's nice to have good cleaning products. Mrs. Meyer's lemon verbena all purpose cleaner makes your barracks bathroom feel less institutional. 

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On 4/20/2022 at 12:29 PM, J-rap said:

She could request to room with an athlete!  My dd roomed (by chance) with an athlete her first year, and they often have early-morning workouts which worked fine with my dd, because though not a college athlete, she was an early riser.

Yes, my son is a swimmer and I keep telling him he's going to have to be very clear on his roommate form that he will be getting up super early and not wanting to stay up late. 

This is a great thread..so many things I haven't thought of. 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, chiguirre said:

The thing my dd most missed having was a George Foreman grill or a toaster oven (or both if you have room). She's a vegetarian and would like to make her own food sometimes. She did have a mini fridge and microwave but she missed being able to make something with a crunch. Many dorms may ban these so check the list.

If you have an en suite bathroom in your room, it's nice to have good cleaning products. Mrs. Meyer's lemon verbena all purpose cleaner makes your barracks bathroom feel less institutional. 

My ds won’t be cooking, and we don’t use a microwave at home (and there isn’t one in any of the homes he’s regularly been in) so I can’t imagine he even is familiar with one. Kind of funny I had never thought of that. He does make occasionally avocado toast but I guess now it will be avocado bread 🤣

Edited by madteaparty
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My dd’s dorm only allows auto-turn-off single cup coffee makers, no electric kettles. She has a little keurig that she uses to make tea, hot chocolate, or to heat water for oatmeal etc. 

I second a rolling cart and over-the-door hooks and storage.

Rolling laundry baskets unless there are stairs involved

Storage bins that will fit under the bed

High quality mattress topper

Stick vacuum that converts into a hand-held

 

 

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This may or may not work for you, and we didn't discover this until we were out of school.  After making many moves with jobs, my sibling landed on keeping deep rubbermaid tubs with lids.  They could fill and stack them for a move, then use any as needed for storage, use 1 for a laundry basket, and nest the rest (stored in a closet or sent home with my parents, depending on space availability).  

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On 4/23/2022 at 8:17 AM, Clemsondana said:

This may or may not work for you, and we didn't discover this until we were out of school.  After making many moves with jobs, my sibling landed on keeping deep rubbermaid tubs with lids.  They could fill and stack them for a move, then use any as needed for storage, use 1 for a laundry basket, and nest the rest (stored in a closet or sent home with my parents, depending on space availability).  

For us, the IKEA Kafka bags work better as you can fold them Up and they don’t take as much space as a Rubbermaid 

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Air purifier

Outlet strips— multiple

DS bought several foldable storage baskets from IKEA after he moved in, to fit into provided cubbies. He lives in an on campus apartment and has a single (huge) room and en-suite, so space isn’t a problem. I think he uses at least one of his suitcases as storage. He uses an IKEA bag for laundry.

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On 4/20/2022 at 9:31 AM, catz said:

We LOVE these bags for packing in for the kids. They're easy to stack in the big moving-in bins too. We also have a couple large, clear Rubbermaid containers that my kids kept under their beds. Some were mostly empty (unpacked) but they kept medicines in one and cleaning supplies in another and off-season clothes they didn't want in their closet in another one.

I also like bankers boxes. They stack perfectly and have lids. They also fold/flatten right back up so are super easy to store without taking up a lot of space! I think the kids at college now have about 4-6 of these that they use when they need to move out of their dorms again.

Definitely air filers. My kids each have had two - one for the bedroom and (because of Covid) another I send for the main/common room. We have the type with front/charcoal filters that they change once a month and a HEPA filter that gets changed each semester.

Because of Covid - send a thermometer, pulse ox, zinc, Tylenol, etc. I would also send a package of N94 masks simply because we never know if/when a new variant will wreak havoc again, so good to have the GOOD masks on hand for if that time comes. Same with hand sanitizer. When DD1 was away at school when Covid started and didn't have much hand sanitizer in her dorm already, it was very, very stressful for me. So - the next two kids have two full-sized bottles plus about 3 mini bottles, minimum, sent with them, lol. Just so I can sleep at night.

I used to think mattress toppers were essential. We didn't have room to pack it to take home after freshman year for DD2, and so we tossed it (ouch, that hurt because it was expensive). She didn't want to bother with one at the beginning of sophomore year - just said she'd buy another one if she needed it - and she never felt like she needed it! So - might depend on how sound a sleeper your kid is or something.

My kids never used the three-tiered carts, but by golly, I bought one for each of them! lol

I can't believe I'm about to send off my fourth kid who is doing college during Covid times. DD1 was sent home her senior year when Covid first hit, then dd's freshman year started the next fall, then ds the following fall and now BK. wow.

 

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This is far from being a necessity, but I got DS (sophomore in a suite with 5 others) a gumball machine for Christmas last year for his dorm. It's a decent one but not fancy. It's been a hit with his group. Every few months I send more gumballs. 

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My kid's dorm has a fully equipped kitchen on every floor. And they seemed pretty clean?!? I'll still make sure he rents the microfridge, but if he suddenly wants to cook, he can do it.

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It is move-out week at the university down the street from my house.  Each day as I walk by, the overflowing dumpsters by the first-year student dorms make me think that most people bring entirely too much to college.  By the end of two semesters much is ending up in the dumpsters, not even being carried home or stored for sophomore year.  DD was an RA at her college and she experienced the same thing at move out; it was amazing how many unopened cleaning supplies, notebooks, dishes, comforters, clothing, laundry detergent, towels, etc. were just being thrown out.  Her university made an effort to take as much as possible to a homeless shelter and a women's shelter.

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On 5/1/2022 at 8:42 AM, saw said:

This is far from being a necessity, but I got DS (sophomore in a suite with 5 others) a gumball machine for Christmas last year for his dorm. It's a decent one but not fancy. It's been a hit with his group. Every few months I send more gumballs. 

Apparently I omitted to mention a key accessory to the gumball machine, which DS told me about last night. They have added a pair of chopsticks, and the idea now is to fish the gumballs out with chopsticks. Adding here in case it's helpful or anyone else has a DS like mine.

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19 minutes ago, saw said:

Apparently I omitted to mention a key accessory to the gumball machine, which DS told me about last night. They have added a pair of chopsticks, and the idea now is to fish the gumballs out with chopsticks. Adding here in case it's helpful or anyone else has a DS like mine.


Reminds me of how DH learned to be proficient at chopsticks and how he taught DD.    Popcorn wars.   You share a bowl of popcorn with someone and only chopsticks could be used.    His best friend was ambidextrous so he had to get *really* good with them.  

 

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  • 1 month later...
On 4/23/2022 at 5:17 AM, Clemsondana said:

This may or may not work for you, ...  deep rubbermaid tubs with lids.  They could fill and stack them for a move, then use any as needed for storage, use 1 for a laundry basket, and nest the rest ... 

I was going to recommend these, too. My daughter also occasionally used her empty tubs for makeshift seating.

My daughter has never been a desk user. We gifted her with a wooden lap desk like thisThe lap desk went with her to South Korea after she graduated from college.

My daughter's college had some old dorms. She enjoyed going into basements and the like and exploring. A flashlight proved very useful!

Regards,

Kareni

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  • 1 month later...
On 4/20/2022 at 9:07 AM, J-rap said:

This was my dd's top college dorm item.  It has multiple uses and can be rolledl it into any little space.  It has now lived in several dorm rooms and apartments.  (These are found all over now.  She got hers at IKEA but I've recently seen them at Target too.)

https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/raskog-utility-cart-white-20382932/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw3v6SBhCsARIsACyrRAmSLyE3urcX-MSkby8beFkYZSc8AGB40qgcQ1dSOCBCKGDXsN8mZ1YaAkJTEALw_wcB

 

I like this one with a solid top:

Spinoff on the tiered cart

A futon or chair and this will depend on your dorm room - is there space? Last year we did futon, this year it's not possible.  I like Ottlite's desk light with a set on charger for her phone.  We got her two fans - one to move air in the room.  The other is a mini for her bed.

Mattress topper
Throw blanket to wrap up in while studying or reading.

The shelfie

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On 4/20/2022 at 9:10 AM, madteaparty said:

I know we have threads about this but I’m not looking for a comprehensive list, just a “best of” list. So far I understand we need quick dry  towels (though I hate them so we will mix it up with some Turkish style ones here). DS is going with approx five million containers of tea—best small hot water heater? Small air purifier? I think the ikea frakta bags might make good laundry baskets.

We have storage issues as DS produces music and he has a whole set up he wants to take with him 🙄
 

If they're going to be sharing a bathroom, slippers

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My oldest ended up in a triple, so he lofted his bed to create space.

 The dumbest nice thing was a felt pocket that could Velcro over the railing. It had space for him to drop in any papers he was reading, his kindle, and best of all, it securely held his glasses so he could find them before climbing down. To go with that up in that lofted bed was a clip on lamp.

 Laundry strips were the next best idea! No heavy jug to cart around, no mess. One envelope lasted a whole semester. They work fine in campus machines (just put the strip directly in the tub). And skip the fabric softener. It’s just unnecessary. 

Their room didn’t have coat pegs, so we sent in a metal coat rack and a small bath towel to place under it. The guys appreciated kicking their wet or snowy boots off onto that towel and hanging dripping coats over it and not having a wet floor. I heard a rumor that one of the roommates actually washed it from time to time lol.

 Otherwise keep it minimal! If you plan to head out for parents weekend in a few weeks you can bring anything else they request, or order stuff delivered from Amazon or Target. Better to add than to have too much stuff.

 

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9 hours ago, NittanyJen said:

My oldest ended up in a triple, so he lofted his bed to create space.

 The dumbest nice thing was a felt pocket that could Velcro over the railing. It had space for him to drop in any papers he was reading, his kindle, and best of all, it securely held his glasses so he could find them before climbing down. To go with that up in that lofted bed was a clip on lamp.

 Laundry strips were the next best idea! No heavy jug to cart around, no mess. One envelope lasted a whole semester. They work fine in campus machines (just put the strip directly in the tub). And skip the fabric softener. It’s just unnecessary. 

Their room didn’t have coat pegs, so we sent in a metal coat rack and a small bath towel to place under it. The guys appreciated kicking their wet or snowy boots off onto that towel and hanging dripping coats over it and not having a wet floor. I heard a rumor that one of the roommates actually washed it from time to time lol.

 Otherwise keep it minimal! If you plan to head out for parents weekend in a few weeks you can bring anything else they request, or order stuff delivered from Amazon or Target. Better to add than to have too much stuff.

 

What laundry strips have you used and recommend? I’ve been wanting to try them, but reviews are always a bit mixed so I’m not sure which to try.

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Any suggestions for cookware? Dd asked for a nesting set for graduation, but what she got is suitable for dolls. She has food allergies. She’ll be on the third floor with a shared kitchen on the first so she’ll be toting back and forth. No elevator.

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12 hours ago, fourisenough said:

What laundry strips have you used and recommend? I’ve been wanting to try them, but reviews are always a bit mixed so I’m not sure which to try.

I have used the True Earth strips for a couple of years now. They dissolve well, get the clothes clean, come in unscented or “linen,” and the packaging is all cardboard— no plastic. For a really small load (like a single set of sheets) I just tear one of them in half and save the other half for the next small load.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

We did IKEA/ Target yesterday. When we got home DH said, “Where is everything?” 

We didn’t end up getting a lot. We had the good luck to have Dd’s room posted on Facebook as an example of what her dorm looks like, so we could be pretty precise in what we bought. That, and after living out of a suitcase in an old Soviet apartment for the last 2 months helped her evaluate what she really needs to survive, lol.

Her “big” item is a dorm sized freezer. I did just order a hot pot for her. (Celiac-athlete). DH can’t wait to take the freezer up 4 flights of stairs, lol.

Her bed is lofted and she’ll need a lamp to put up on her wardrobe for up high task lighting. Target had ones with a USB/ outlet/ phone holder for $14. IKEA had canvas pockets for the bed rail that look pretty handy.

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On 4/20/2022 at 1:57 PM, Kassia said:

My dd's dorm doesn't allow command strips and the over the door hooks don't fit on the doors - just something to think about.  

She has been using pods with no problem and finds them easier to carry.  She does use  Ikea Frakta bags to bring laundry back and forth.  

what are pods?

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A couple things I don't remember seeing mentioned ... something that can be used as a nightstand (for a phone, water bottle and maybe a light.)  Or, if you lift or loft the beds, a bedside caddy to hold the phone, charger, earbuds, and slot for a book or tablet and maybe a space for a water bottle.)  My daughter liked having a clip on light and clip on fan since her bed was raised (high enough to fit a dresser underneath, but not lofted to sit under.)

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