Moving – The Other 4 Letter Word, and Tips for Surviving it
Moving, Packing, Unpacking. They’re not four letter words but they sure sound like it when you say them, especially when there are kids involved. So if I told you I’d moved 17 times in 15 years, 5 of those were with kids in tow, that I moved less than 2 months ago and will likely be moving again in 30 days what would you say? It sounds crazy right? I’ve moved A LOT. So I can say with certainty moving is not easy but it doesn’t have to be four letter word worthy.
So how do you survive a move big or small? Moving:
First off if you can, especially if there are kids involved, hire movers. It will save you hours of pain, misery and sore backs. The reality is these guys do this for a living. They are used to getting couches down stairs, going through narrow doorways, driving a truck and packing so stuff doesn’t get ruined in transit. Sure you can wrangle up your friends and family to help, but what happens when someone you need doesn’t show or has a bad back? Honestly if you’ve moved like we have, you’ve used up those favors with friends and family long ago. It may not be realistic for every budget, but if you can, hire movers it pays in spades. Packing:
If you are doing the packing and there are kids involved, you need to start packing 30-45 days out. Start packing the stuff you don’t use regularly: off season clothes, books, nick-nacks, serving dishes etc. Make yourself a rule, I will pack 3 boxes a night. And realize that you will break that rule. J Hence starting early.
On that same line of reasoning, look into the cost of a full pack and move. It’s often not nearly as awful as you think it will be on price. And by the time you factor in buying/sourcing boxes, packing materials, renting a van, not to mention the cost of your own time you may not be saving as much as you think by doing it yourself. What you are likely doing is spending HOURS and HOURS fighting “helpful” children who really think they are contributing by rolling in bubble wrap, climbing in boxes and unwrapping what you just wrapped. Again it may not be doable, but if it is believe me it’s 100% worth it.
Tips and Tricks:
But regardless who’s doing the packing here’s some basics I learned along the way that I hope help.
Purge! And then Purge some more. At the time it may seem easier to just pack it and deal with it when you get there, but I can tell you that it’s not. Everything that goes into those boxes also has to be taken out and have a home. Chances are if you still have boxes packed after 30 days from moving it’s because it’s stuff you never needed or used and could have been purged. (I once had a VCR and VHS sit in a box in a closet for 4 years. When we went to move again and it was still packed I finally chucked it). Now it’s just sucking up space. Before it goes in a box ask yourself; Have I used this in the last 6 months? Am I likely to use it in the next 6 (and be honest)? If the answer is no, get rid of it. Sell, rehome or donate it. There’s a great group called Mummies Paying It Forward that’s always looking for things, as well of course places like Salvos, Vinnies etc. But DON’T KEEP IT!
Organize – If it’s in the wrong place the day the movers come or when you pack, it will still be in the wrong place when you get there. Spend the day before the move putting stuff where it actually belongs. This time organizing will pay off later when you aren’t hunting desperately for that random item for the baby that somehow ended up in the kitchen boxes.
Don’t underestimate the realities of moving – The worst move I ever had was one where we were only moving 4 blocks. It was terrible because we totally didn’t pack stuff up appropriately. At the end of the day it all still has to get out of the apartment and into another so why I thought I didn’t really need to do a normal pack and move is beyond me in retrospect. This is not an uncommon mistake. I’ve talked to multiple people who are like oh we are only moving 2 units over so we aren’t packing. Then fast forward 3 weeks and they are cursing because they can’t find anything and because the move was a total nightmare. Invest the time in packing, getting a moving team together etc. regardless if it’s 2 blocks or 200 away otherwise you will kick yourself later.
Buy more packing material than you think you ll need – Running back and forth 10 times to Bunnings to buy packing paper or to the news stand for more newspapers etc. isn’t a good use of your time. And a big mistake inexperienced packers make is under padding boxes. A couple layers of paper at the bottom scrunched up and a couple at the top and usually 1-2 pieces around most items is what you should expect. Less and you risk breaking all that stuff you just worked so hard to wrap.
Label boxes on three sides – Not just kitchen, living room, what’s actually in them so when you are unpacking you can get to priority items first. If they are all stacked on top of each other or against each other and you’ve only labelled the top or side, good luck.
Stage items you will need during the move in your car (clothes , toys) – in your car, out of reach of movers to ensure they don’t get packed. I learned this the hard way during our last move when suddenly things I had stashed in the bathroom, completely disappeared. It took several days of frantic unpacking to find them which clearly did us no good the day of the move when we actually needed them most.
Pay for a partial unpack for the kitchen – Again if you have more money than time see talk to your movers about doing a partial unpack the day of the move, ideally have them focus on one room, probably the kitchen and have them unwrap and open boxes while you put stuff on the shelves, it speeds up the process immensely.
Unpack the kitchen first – It is by far the biggest job of any room. The day of the move have one person solely dedicated to unpacking the kitchen boxes. They should be the first things off the truck so that you can quickly start unpacking and breaking down boxes so that you have more room for other stuff. Which leads me to my next point:
Plot out layouts in advance of the move – Do a walk through of the house the day before the move to plot out where stuff is going. What wall will the bed be on, the couch, the TV? That way you can make the best use of your movers/helpers while you have them not be struggling to move the couch on your own the next day. Similarly go through the kitchen and plot out where are the glasses going, the plates, the pots etc.
Unpack immidiately – It’s easy to say “I’ll get to it later.” But here’s the thing. You won’t. Or you will but it will slowly drive you insane living in a house full of random boxes never able to find stuff. Bust through the unpacking that first week, just do it. Get a friend to watch the kids for an afternoon, and do nothing but unpack. Yes it’s HARD and long, but being done with it makes life so much better. Also it’s hard to claim insurance on something as broken 6 months after a move or worse missing entirely when you finally discover it’s not there.
Ask friends to watch kids – Get someone to watch them the day before, of and after the move. See if they can do school pick up so you can really focus on the prep and after work of the move vs. trying to create some sense of normalcy in a completely abnormal environment. If you can have their rooms unpacked and set up before they get home the night of the move all the better it makes an easier transition for them.
Hang up pictures – Sounds obvious right? But again timeliness is the key. Generally talking to friends and from my own experience I’ve found if I don’t hang stuff in the first 30-45 days chances are I won’t at all. And it’ll bother me that my house looks bare and sad but I’ll start to justify it with “Well it doesn’t really make sense because we only have a year lease why hang stuff up now when we’ve only got 6 or 9 months left …” Stuff that’s not on the walls is just taking up valuable real estate on the floor or in the closets and is also way more likely to get broken.
Get thee ALL the Command stripes – So I just said hang up pictures and you are like “Umm I rent, I’m not putting holes in the walls.” Command made the answer to this with removable stripes and Velcro stripes that go up on the wall and snap right onto your pictures.
Hopefully some of these ideas help make your next move a bit better than your last one. 😉