So moving. Moving was fun. I mean, it was a bit stressful in the fact that I had to go through everything we owned and break it down into “useful or not”. Though, now that I come to think of it, that process was rather therapeutic. Maybe I ought to go through everything I own once a year and decide whether it’s useful or not. I’d probably end up owning a lot less crap. Because I find organization therapeutic, and I am a great fan of systems, I researched different boxing techniques to make packing and unpacking easier and less time consuming. I then took these ideas and tweaked them to fit my needs. What follows is the system that worked for me. Maybe it will be helpful for you as well. Make sure to check out the Moving Kit I put together and download it for free at the end of the post!
1. Decide where your stuff is going to go.
By this I mean two things.
First, when sorting through what to pack, when you come upon something that you don’t want, what are you going to do with it? Is it going to Goodwill? Are you going to have a garage sale? Are you giving it to a friend? Make sure you know the answer to this question before you start making a pile of stuff you don’t want. That way it doesn’t turn into a pile of “stuff you don’t want but don’t know what to do with” and just stay there until moving day, generally getting in the way.
Second, as you’re packing things into boxes you’re going to want to know what room they go in. For me, I was moving from a 1 bedroom apartment to a 3 bedroom house, so there was room for expansion. This meant that as I packed, some things that lived in my living room at the apartment were not going to be living there at the new house. When packing you want things to go in boxes labeled where they will be going, lest you have a thousand boxes in your living room to wade through while unpacking, deciding what is going in the office and what is staying in the living room. Take it from me, the last thing you want to do when unpacking is decide where things go. I didn’t have an exact picture of where everything was going to go when I started making my template for packing because we hadn’t yet picked out a house (I started the packing process before we even got approved for a home loan, can you tell I was anxious to move into a ”real” house?). I did, however, have a general picture of what I was looking for in a house and where I would want everything. The decision of what would go where was something that I did over the course of a few weeks. As I would walk through a room I would take mental inventory of what was there and then rearrange it into imaginary rooms in my imaginary house, “okay, so the computer will go in the office, and the bookshelf will stay in the living room. The craft things will go in the office, I guess, since I probably won’t have a room dedicated to crafting”. It didn’t work out exactly like this (due to the not knowing exactly what rooms I’d have in the new house), but it was a helpful process because when it came time to actually pack I didn’t have to wonder which box I was going to pack things in.
2. Make a list.
I love lists. Almost more than organization. So after mentally deciding where all my stuff was going to go I sat down with some lined paper, one sheet for each room. At the top of each sheet I wrote the room and then, like the Dewey decimal system, a 100 number.
#000 – Miscellaneous
#100 – Kitchen
#200 – Living Room
3. More listing
Once you have your room numbers down, break up your large furniture onto your list in the correct rooms and generalize what will go where so when you start packing you won’t have to try to remember that you decided that the electronics will go in the Living Room boxes instead of the Office boxes. Here’s what my “#300 – Office Supplies, Document, Crafts” list looked like:
• Computer Desk Drawer Contents (minus electronics)
• Living room Side Table Contents
• Stack of Stuff on Table (we all have that stack somewhere. . .)
• Organization materials on Kitchen Wall and Cabinet
• All Craft supplies
This wasn’t an exhaustive list, but as I was packing it was good to be able to go back and check where I was planning on moving things to (because as cool as that imaginary list in my head was, trying to remember all that stuff was probably impossible). Some rooms didn’t have notes. For instance, everything that was in my bathroom at the apartment was going straight into the bathroom at our new home, so I didn’t need to make any notes there.
4. Make a time line
I got this idea from Authentic Simplicity and tweaked it to fit my needs. You can find her download here (which includes kids stuff) or here is my Moving Kit, complete with a room numbering system, list of what you’ll need for the day of the move, check list of what you’ll need to change when you move (like your address), and a cleaning game plan.
Essentially, breakdown what you’re going to pack when, so you don’t have a last minute scramble two days before you move. Organization and planning is the key to a stress-less (or less stressful) move. As I packed the items on the list I crossed them off and put a date by them (mostly). This gave me a sense of accomplishment; even packing up a tiny apartment feels overwhelming. I didn’t always get everything packed according to the timeline, and some things I found more practical to wait until later. In all honesty I packed in about three weeks instead of the four on my list, mostly because we didn’t have all that much stuff. Feel free to do what works for your family.
5. Gather supplies
You will, of course, need boxes, packing tape, packing paper, and a sharpie (or two) for marking boxes. I was not about to pay for all of these things, so I went to my local grocery store on a delivery day (ask any sales associate, they should know the delivery days, or the manager will) and loaded up on free boxes. The apple and banana boxes were the best, heavy duty and the banana boxes have handles. I then went to the recycle bin next to my local grocery store and rummaged around for newspaper inserts. By “rummaged” I mean I reached in and grabbed a bundle (still tied) off the top. Since I already had sharpies the only thing I ended up purchasing was boxing tape (and when I ran out of that I just used the duct tape we had on hand).
6. Pack and Record
No one likes to guess what’s in what box where when unpacking. The answer to “honey, where did we pack the plates?” should be met with “Box #104 – Kitchen” instead of “In one of the boxes in the kitchen”. This is where the Dewey decimal system comes in. Those lined sheets of paper with the rooms and numbers at the top? Those are going to be lists of boxes and their contents. For example, when packing your kitchen if you put all the plates and cups in your first “kitchen” box you will write on the box “#101”, and then go to your handy dandy notebook, flip to the “kitchen #100” page and write “#101 – Plates and cups”. Essentially, you’re keeping inventory of what you’re packing. I found this excruciatingly useful, especially with stuff that was going into short-term storage, like Christmas items (though with those I wrote what was in the box both on the list and on the outside of the box). Here’s a sample of what my box list looked like:
#101 – Kitchen magnets, nick knacks, figurines
#102 – Pots and pans (small), baking sheets, muffin tins, plastic containers, plastic cookie cutters
#103 – Small kitchen appliances (blenders, toaster, mixer, doughnut maker), travel mugs, metal cookie cutters
#104 – Mugs, wine glasses, small glass bowls
#105 – Glassware
#106 – Spices I
#107 – Spices II
#901 – Photo albums, hubby’s childhood folders
#902 – Books (children’s + other)
#903 – Books
#904 – Books, Music Notebooks/binders
Someone more tech-savvy than I could probably do this on their tablet or phone, but paper and pen worked better for me, especially because I then kept the pages in my Moving Kit notebook. Do what works for you.
7. Double check
Once your time line is complete, and as you begin packing, keep a running list of things you’ll need for moving day. I’m notorious for forgetting things so I added to the end of my packing timeline a list of things I needed to make sure I had with me, personally, for the move. My list included
• Moving Kit Notebook (with the “what goes where” list)
• Essential Documents (driver’s licenses, birth certificates, etc.)
• First aid kit
To keep the confusion down when unloading into your new house you may want to make signs for each room that correspond to the box numbers. This makes sure that everyone helping you puts each box where it goes. This will save you time later because everything will be in the room it goes in already and you won’t have to move stuff around as much. My signs had the name of the room and the number that went on the box like this: “#200 Living Room”. So all the help had to do was look at the box number they were carrying, then find the matching room. No having to ask or try to remember which number goes to which room. I printed these signs out ahead of time and added them to my Moving Kit Notebook that would go with me personally during the move. Here are the Room Signs I made for my house.
9. Labels and Tape
Furniture doesn’t go in boxes, so how is your moving help going to know where to put it unless you’re standing there bossing them around the whole time? I grabbed a roll of painter’s tape and wrote the room number of each piece of furniture and stuck it on. This included all the chairs. Each chair. Maybe it was overkill, but nothing ended up in the wrong place. I did this while I was packing up the boxes, which might not have been a great idea because painter’s tape doesn’t stick real well to chairs or fabric, and it kept coming off. In the future I’d probably do this just before the move, maybe a couple days out.
10. Enlist help
It’s probably not fun to move alone. I’m sure it can be done, but for your own sake, enlist help. A couple strong guys to carry your furniture down three flights of narrow apartment stairs are very useful (especially if you’re seven months pregnant, as I was when we moved). Paying in pizza might be a good idea. Because we didn’t want to pay to rent a moving van, and because we were only moving ten minutes across town, we opted to make several trips loading up a couple friend’s large vehicles and our own. It took a little bit longer than a moving truck would have taken, but it cost less, so to us it was worth the extra time. If you prefer to save time (or are moving a long distance) it might be a better idea to pay for a moving truck.
11. Clean the new house
No one wants to move into a yucky house. Even if the house is “clean” it’s not really clean. Take a couple hours and vacuum, sweep, mop, and wipe everything down. I’ve included a game plan for this is my handy dandy Moving Kit for you.
12. Label the new house and get to cracking
Before you start unloading boxes take your trusty signs that you made back when you put together your Moving Kit Notebook and tape them up in each room. Once that has been done start moving everything in. If you have enough people you might even get an assembly line going (especially if you have to deal with stairs).
13. Clean the old house
You’re going to want to clean the old house after moving out so that whomever is moving in next will have less work to do (and in many instances you are required to clean it before you officially are not living there anymore). Make sure you enlist help for this as well, even if you’re not doing it the day of moving.
14. Feed the crowd
Once you’ve unloaded everything, sit back and enjoy your organized handiwork. Then maybe eat some pizza with your moving buddies. Make sure you have somewhere to sleep tonight before you start unpacking tomorrow morning.
If you missed them, here are the links to my Moving Kit, Inventory Packing List, and Room Signs. The files (excepting the Inventory Packing List) are Word format so that you can edit them to fit your family needs. Good luck!