Moving can be a rough time in life. I’m sure by now most of you (if not all of you) have moved at some point in your life. It may have been a short move across the street or a long move across the country, but most people move to a new home at some point in their life.
My husband and I have been married for 10 years. We just moved for the 10th time since we’ve been married. And there will be at least one more move to go for our family. Some of our moves have been short ones and others have been across the country. At some point, I will write a post explaining all these moves, but for today, I’m going to concentrate on the best pointers for packing and moving.
I am writing this post while sitting amongst all the boxes and bags that were strewn throughout the room. Some things are inevitable while moving, but a little organization and planning can go a long way during the moving process.
- Pack the un-needed. The first thing I always do when I know a move is on the horizon is start with the things that are not used/needed on a daily basis. This one seems like a no-brainer right? Not always. I have “short girl syndrome.” I may open a cabinet fifty times a day, but I never see what is on the top shelf. I can make myself think that I shouldn’t pack anything in that cabinet because I use everything in there. Wrong. Start on the top shelves and work your way down. Don’t forget the cabinet over the refrigerator. I won’t tell you why that one is a specific memory. Anyway, with every cabinet and closet, start at the top and work your way down. You might be surprised by how many boxes you fill just by starting there.
- Throw things away! Do not pack every single little thing that you find in your cabinets and closets. We move a lot, obviously, and I still find things to throw every time we move. When we unpack this next time, my kids are going to wonder where some of their toys went. They got “lost” in the move. I have either thrown them away or given them to someone. We have way TOO many toys. I have also been known to make a move a great way to get myself some new clothes. I go through my closet and sell a lot of things. That gives me fewer things to pack, a little extra pocket money for the move, and a few new articles of clothing when we get to the new house. Win, win, win!
- Pack the dishes. Yes, I said pack the dishes. I know this kind of goes against the first tip I listed, but hear me out. Use paper plates and bowls; plastic forks, spoons, and cups; and throw away storage containers. If you don’t have to do the dishes after meals (at least as many dishes – you’ll still have pots and pans to clean), you will have way more time to work on your packing. And let’s face it. It’s nice to not have to do dishes every now and then!
- Find good sturdy boxes. With one of my moves, we had to use whatever we could find. Some of that worked ok, but some didn’t end well. Please learn from my experience. Use good boxes. Look in places you wouldn’t normally think about. Ask at office buildings to see if they will save their paper boxes for you. These are some of my favorites to use. They are a good size and are very sturdy. Another good place is clinics. They get a ton of boxes all the time and they are usually pretty uniform in size.
- Always buy the extra roll of packing tape. It never fails that you will get almost done with packing your belongings and you run out of tape. It’s so annoying and, by that time, frustrating. There are few things that bug me more during packing than having to run to the store for another roll of tape. Go to Costco. Buy it in bulk. You won’t regret it.
- Label, label, label. With one of our first moves, I was kind of a moving rookie back then. I simply labeled the boxes “Kitchen” or “Living Room” or something of that sort. While that might work for some people, it drove me nuts when I started to unpack. I have since learned a much better system. I now buy different color note cards, write the name of the room at the top, and list every single thing that is in that box. Yes, that gets tedious at times, but when I get to the new place and need one specific item, guess who can find it?! It is definitely worth the time and effort to label each box with specific items. It keeps my brain from blowing a fuse.
- Make sure you can lift the box. This one also seems like a “Duh!” comment, but believe me, sometimes it can slip right through. I have a habit of finding these amazingly huge boxes. They are beautiful boxes, and I love seeing them packed perfectly with as much as can possibly fit in there. My husband hates these boxes. I try really hard not to make them weigh 90 pounds, but it’s so hard! I see space in a box and have a need to fill it. I can’t possibly waste that room! Last time we moved, I surprised my husband. He saw one of those huge boxes and immediately sighed and slumped his shoulders. I just grinned and turned around, acting like I hadn’t seen what he did. I could hear him bracing himself to pick up that box. Little did he know that I filled it with stuffed animals and not my cast iron pots and pans. I thought he was going to flip himself backwards with the force he used to pick that thing up! It was great! Anyway, lesson learned. Use big boxes for light, awkward items.
- Use your resources. Now, I understand that not everyone will have access to these items, but this is what we have done for our last few moves. My brother owns a trucking company. He has big box trucks with lift gates on the back. What we do is stack all our boxes on pallets and shrink wrap them onto the pallets. Then we use a pallet jack to load it onto the lift gate and put it in the truck that way. It saves so much time and keeps us from breaking our backs with everything. It also allows us to move with just the two of us instead of having an army of people to help. Our families are crazy busy and there isn’t always a lot of help to be had. If you don’t have access to this type of equipment, I suggest finding an army of people to help you move.
- Pizza. This one should be pretty self-explanatory. I don’t think any move is complete without pizza. The first night we are in the new house, we always have pizza. It’s way easier to have someone deliver your food to you than it is to have to stop what you are doing and cook something. Sometimes delivery isn’t always an option. In that case, buy frozen pizza and cook that. Yes, I know you still have to stop and cook, but it’s way easier than cooking a full on meal.
- Keep the important stuff at the top. Another rookie mistake I made back in the day was putting everything into the back of the truck – somewhere. I have since learned to keep the things that I will need soon either toward the door of the truck or in my personal vehicle. It makes the first few days in a new place so much easier.
- Pack an overnight bag. Instead of trying to dig through box after box to find your pajamas and toothbrush, pack an overnight bag for each person. Now that we have five children, a basket actually works much better than a suitcase does. It’s easier for the kids to find their things and much less messy. Either way you decide, an overnight bag of some sort is a game-changer.
- Double check the old house. I have always had this fear that we are going to end up leaving something behind. As far as I know, that has not happened yet, but I don’t like the idea either way. Once we have the truck loaded and the house empty of everything and everyone, I always make one last pass through the house and double check every cabinet, closet, and shelf. I look at every square inch of the house to make sure nothing is forgotten. Maybe I’m just weird, but it gives me closure and peace of mind to know that all of our things are out and we aren’t leaving anything there.
There is one more thing to keep in mind while moving. It doesn’t matter how much planning you put into it or how organized you are, something will probably cause an issue. Don’t worry about it. Something will work out. Moving is stressful enough. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Enjoy the process and the prospect of new memories in a new home. Life is an adventure. Enjoy it!
I hope these tips have helped a little bit with whatever type of packing/moving you are doing. I’ve used these many times and will be using them again at some point. How many times have you and your family moved? What are some of your moving tips? I’m sure there are plenty of other tips and tricks that I haven’t thought of yet. Let me know what they are! Post some in the comments below so I can try them on our next move!