Moving is one of the major activities humans undertake. Whether it’s across town or across the country, relocating your home is a stressful, time-consuming event that forces you to face the one thing everyone has in common: a lot of stuff.
This blog has covered some of the other aspects of moving, such as what to do with your kids, hiring a truck, and setting up utilities, finding a school, etc. This post is all about dealing with your stuff.
One important note: in the process of packing you will no doubt encounter items that you no longer want or need or that simply won’t fit in your new home, literally or aesthetically. Make sure you have a plan for sorting these things into sell, donate, and trash and that someone takes responsibility for dealing with them. Here’s a list of places that accept donations.
As with any other home-related project, moving requires planning, and that includes having a strategy for the packing. Map out a schedule for when you’ll be packing each room or section of the house. Assign family members their packing duties and designate staging areas for packed boxes, donation items, and things you’ll be selling.
1. Gather Supplies
Boxes are a given. As is good packing tape and a supply of permanent markers. Other things you will likely need are packing peanuts, bubble wrap, dish sleeves, mattress bags, newspaper or packing paper, a box cutter and band aids. You may also want some work gloves for packing the garage, basement or attic. It’s also a very good idea to get a supply of small zip bags, the kind you find at craft stores.
Gather all your moving supplies in a designated tote or box and return all supplies there after every packing session.
2. Prepare Essentials
In order to ensure that you don’t accidentally pack something you’ll need before/after moving, start by packing a suitcase for everyone in the family. Include at least two weeks’ worth of clothing, toiletries, medications, etc. Just as if you were going on vacation. These will be the suitcases you live out of the last week in your current home and the first few days in the new, as well as any travel time. Make sure you throw in a few rolls of toilet paper, tissues, paper towels and even paper plates and plastic utensils for those last & first meals.
Yes, this includes personal electronics and a few important toys/games for each child. It all has to fit in their suitcase or carry-on bag, esp. if you are flying to your new home or have limited room in your car.
Next make a list of everything that will be “last packed/first unpacked” and set aside a box or two for them. This will include kitchen items, cleaning supplies, pet dish, etc. Make sure to leave room for one set of sheets for every bed and some bath towels.
3. Clean First
Everything that gets packed should be cleaned first. Dishes, clothes, bedding, cookware — everything. Dust books, use canned air on electronics, and clean and polish furniture. This is especially important if you are shipping things a long distance or if you will have things stored for any length of time before unpacking.
Take things apart, especially tables, desks, and shelves. Attempting to move them whole will likely resort in broken items. Move drawers separate from their dresser or cabinet, take lamps apart, and, of course, beds.
This is where those zip bags come into play. All the hardware associated with a single piece of furniture can be stored in one bag and then taped to that item so that they don’t get lost. This includes the hardware for hanging frames and mirrors and those little pegs that hold up adjustable shelves.
5. Group by Room or Use
Many experts advise packing one room at a time and keeping everything from one room together. While this is generally a good idea, sometimes it’s better to pack by function. All the bedding and linens together. All books together. And so on. Things have a tendency to migrate throughout the house, as you’ll find during the packing process. Putting “like with like” isn’t always a matter of geography.
6. Protect Anything Fragile
There are specially designed boxes for glassware, bottles, framed art, dishes, and electronics. Anything that can break or get scratched should be properly protected. Make use of bubble wrap, Styrofoam peanuts, and furniture covers and pads.
7. Label, Label, Label
While this is the last tip in the list, it’s probably the most important. Before you begin packing you’ll want to decide on a labeling system. Whether you’re writing directly on boxes, using pre-made labels, or even utilizing QR codes (yes, people really do that), everyone needs to follow the same rules.
Start by designating every room in your new home with a short code. “Sue” for “Susie’s bedroom” or “MB” for “Master Bath.” Some people just label the rooms with numbers or alphabetically starting from the front door and working their way through the house. Make sure everyone knows the codes and that you have a sign with each designation that you can tape to the rooms when you arrive. This way the movers (whether professional or family/friends) know where to unload things.
Every box should have the room code on the top and every side of the box as well as a short description/label of the contents.
8. Manage Your Stress
Perhaps the most important part of packing is managing your stress. Take regular breaks. Stay hydrated. Make sure you eat — and sleep. Play happy music. Try some relaxation techniques. Have a nightly “who found the craziest thing in their closet” contests at dinner.
If you follow these tips and keep your sense of humor, you might even enjoy packing.
Try watching the videos below if you need to de-stress: