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Husband and I have been married for 8 1/2 years. In those 8 1/2 years we’ve moved 7 times. SEVEN. TIMES. And there will be at least one or two more in our future I’m sure. It goes without saying that we have learned from our mistakes. But by now it feels like we should be straight-up professionals. I’ve assembled this list of must-do’s to ease the stress and calm the chaos on moving day.
1. MAKE ALL THE LISTS
Seriously though, make a list for everything. Start with your list of rooms, name each room and keep that naming consistent throughout the entire packing and moving process. Don’t label half the boxes for Master Bedroom “Master” and half “Bedroom” you will be so confused and carrying boxes from room to room for weeks after you move in. Make lists of things you want to NOT pack, what you think you’ll need to use the big day and a couple days later. Make a list of things you need to purchase for the new house/apartment etc- rugs, curtains, lamps, furniture, shower curtains, etc.
2. Pack an overnight bag for everyone in your household.
Even if you’re moving in town, you don’t want to be digging through boxes searching for a toothbrush and clean underwear the next day after move-in.
3. Pack one room at a time
You will be so much more motivated to keep packing when you can cross a room off that list you made before you began. Trust me.
4. Make sure you have all your packing supplies before you start.
No matter what. Start with boxes, packing tape, sharpie markers, something to wrap breakables with (don’t buy bubble wrap, use dishtowels, washcloths, etc. and when those run out paper towels work great, just buy cheap generic ones!).
5. Declutter as you pack.
Don’t pack things you know aren’t useful anymore, are broken, or you know you want to get rid or. Consider having a garage sale before you move (calling it a moving sale in your Craigslist ad will attract more buyers- see my post on having the best yard sale here), and set aside a couple of empty boxes to fill for your local homeless shelter or second-hand store.
6. Pack a bin or crate with items you’ll want the first night.
Assume you won’t be able to unpack a single thing the first day. I always start with the basics: toilet paper, paper towels, ziplock bags, paper plates, plastic utensils & cups. When you pack everyone’s bedding, put it in its own box, very CLEARLY LABELED so that you can find it easily in the new place. Of course you’ll already have your toiletries in the overnight bags you packed for everyone.
7. If you can save up for it, HIRE MOVERS.
Of course the cost of this varies by region and distance you’re moving. But it’s easy to think you’re saving money when moving local to do it all yourself and renting a truck. After 6 moves having family and friends help us, we finally did the smart thing for move number 7. (Also I think my poor dad was going to boycott helping us if he had to move us one more time…) You’ll be so glad you hired someone to do the heavy lifting, especially when there are stairs involved. Everyone is less stressed out, happier and nicer to each other at the end of the day. And that alone makes it SO WORTH IT.
8. Remove the tiny humans from the equation.
If at all humanly possible, when the movers/truck and/or your helpers arrive; take the kid/kids elsewhere. If you’re moving in town, head to their favorite park or even restaurant with indoor play area. If you’re moving to a different town but driving there, get on the road! Load ‘em up with snacks and activities and get a head start. Arriving first at the new empty house where they can run around and explore it together is fun and exciting for them.
9. Unpack your kitchen first.
I am a huge believer in this. Trust me when I say, if the kitchen is unpacked you’ll be able to breath. If you get bogged down in trying to get all your clothes organized or unpack bathrooms and still have a kitchen full of boxes, you’ll just continue to get discouraged. Once you have the coffee pot unpacked and you know where the flatware is, everyone “feels” more settled, even if the rest of the house is still in boxes.
10. Last but not least…
Don’t forget the fridge/freezer! I know this sounds silly, but it stays closed right? Out of side out of mind. If you’re moving local, load up an ice chest with the contents the morning of your move and just drive it over in your car ahead of the moving truck. If you’re moving out of state or too long a distance for an ice chest, then you’ll want to make a plan ahead of time to use up as much as you can. Remember your local food banks when needing to leave behind unopened pantry items!
How many times have you moved? Leave your tips & must-haves in the comments below.