Moving. It’s an event. As most of you know, we moved not too long ago. It was an easier move than most will ever have as we stayed within the same area. Having said that, we learned a few thing along the way and I thought it would be fun to share. Here are our 10 best tips for moving.
Let me be very clear! We stunk at moving. Yep. That’s right. I had no plans for writing a post like this but then I realized it’s via our biggest failures that we stand to learn the most. Isn’t that right? As a child, I grew up moving around quite a bit and have always loved the idea of being adventurous and chartering new territory. For many reasons, our lives have lead us to staying in Southern California for quite some time so we have not moved our family across country or to another continent like my sister has.
What I do know, first hand, is that change is change. At the core of it, when you shake up the norm and uproot a family it can be difficult. Moving sucks. The process, that is. A common theme when you bring up moving to people is the visceral reaction followed by, “Ugh. Moving is the worst.” Of course we know that everyone is talking about the physical aspect of packing up and moving a family. The process itself. So why not share what we learned and a few of the things we actually did right (they were few and far between).
it’s a marathon, not a sprint
We started out so strong. I had a calendar all set out. We would pack up one room a day. Easy breezy. Yep. For the first two days. It was glorious and I felt so productive. Then we got behind. Then we got tired. Then we got even more behind. Then I got bored. That’s right, packing can be boring. Listen, there are one million reasons why it becomes a marathon but it just does. Be prepared for that. Hydrate. Stretch. You’re in this for 26.2 miles so pace yourself. Don’t over-estimate what you can do in a day/week/month. Start early.
In retrospect, we were so afraid something would go wrong during the escrow process that we put off packing for a bit. Yes, it would have been awful had something gone wrong but I do wish I would have had more time to pack. I will never forget when my parents pulled up to our garage of our previous home. We were one day from handing over the keys and the garage was still full. With huge eyes and a worried face my dad said, “Wow. You guys have a lot of stuff.” Tears welled up in my eyes and and I cried. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Be prepared for that.
boxes are your friends
We moved locally. That may have been our biggest downfall. Thinking that was somehow easier. There is no difference. Sure, if we could fit everything we own in a few cute suitcases and toss it on top of our Volkswagon Bug (my first car by the way) we would have been in good shape. A home needs to be packed up into boxes. We learned that waaaaay toooooo late in the game. We thought car loads were a grand idea. Let me assure you, that was not the way to go. In the end we started buying copious amounts of boxes and loading up a U-Haul. Get the boxes, pack them properly and label until your heart is content.
I can take zero credit for this but a very sweet reader emailed me during our move and said she had done this for her children. Brilliant. She hid special treasures in a box they would unpack in their rooms. So while unpacking, they would discover a gift wrapped up and a note saying, “We are so excited to be on this adventure with you.” I love that so much. So depending on your child, think of something fun for them to unwrap. A little something goes a long way so it doesn’t need to be grand or expensive. A new coloring book to keep them busy while you unpack? A new book? Adore this idea. Love my readers for sharing things like this.
everyone needs an “I’m Home” box
Of course you need the essentials. Things to keep you going for at least 24 hours. That list includes toiletries, food items, cleaning supplies, hand soap, toilet paper, etc. There are many lists on the Internet for that. However, you also need a box for each person in the family to make them feel like they are home. It’s not easy sleeping in a new place for the first time and everyone likes to feel something familiar. A robe. A stuffed animal. A favorite picture that was by the bed. Take a look around each bedroom before packing them up and figure out what each individual might like to see immediately. Label it with their name and “first day” so it can be opened easily.
a working kitchen is key
No question about it. The kitchen is key. We unpacked our kitchen first and got settled as quickly as possible. A tornado of boxes and mayhem seemed to be swirling elsewhere, but the kitchen offered us a tidy and inviting place to be. I also believe in hitting up a grocery store immediately for the basics. You’ll be exhausted from cleaning and unpacking and going out gets very old. You’re not even in the mood and it’s so much easier to have cereal and other basic things on hand. Deli meats, bread, etc.
cook a meal together
When the family is adjusting to a new environment and missing what was, it’s good to bring it back to meal time. If you have a family member or dear friend moving, I highly recommend sending them a dinner from somewhere like Plated or Blue Apron. We used Plated for one meal and it was heaven. All of the fresh ingredients and instructions get shipped to your doorstep. No thinking or planning necessary. This was honestly one of the best things we did. We were able to turn on music, cook together as a family and sit down to enjoy a really delicious meal. It’s not an inexpensive option, but I’m telling you it was so worth it. You could even go in on it with a couple of friends and send someone you love a dinner for their first night in their new home. They won’t forget it.
keep the creative juices flowing
As you unpack and get settled, you’ll want to keep the children happy and busy. It’s a lot to juggle. How cute are these boxcars? You’ll have a plethora of boxes so get those creative juices flowing. My children took them all in the backyard and created stores and shops. It was a great use of their creativity and it kept them occupied for such a long time. You know that old saying about kids loving the box more than the gift. It’s true. It’s true because their imagination can run wild. So hand over some markers and paint and let them have at it.
Once you are in your new home you will hear a certain question one million times. “So are you all settled?” No. Hell, no. Like not even close. Now you will hear this question from dear friends and strangers alike so don’t be upset with them. They are coming from a place of love and chances are it’s been a while since they moved. Just like giving birth, we all forget what it’s really like. Put on your earmuffs, nod and smile! Otherwise you’ll want to cry and scream from the top of your lungs, “Settled? How on God’s green Earth could we be settled after just a week? There’s crap everywhere and I still can’t find my daughter’s favorite stuffed animal. No we are not settled and won’t be for like ever.” Earmuffs, my friends. Take a deep breath and know that you don’t need to feel settled for quite some time. It’s a process. It takes time and one day it will come. Cheers to that.
accept help & buy flowers
I am awful at accepting help. I truly am. I think loss in my life has softened me a bit to admitting help is ok and people like to help. When we first move in, a very dear friend dropped everything and came over with cleaning supplies. She didn’t just drop them off. She cleaned two of our bathrooms and placed brand new lotion and soap in my children’s bathroom. What?! The kindness is something I will never forget. If people offer, say yes. Maybe you are moving and you don’t know anyone. So maybe it’s saying yes to the phone call of a friend reaching out. Whatever it may be, allow yourself to rely on others. In the end, it brings us all closer to one another.
Flowers. You know how I feel about flowers. Flowers are transformative. Your new home, apartment, room, or flat may be a disaster but a vase of fresh flowers will lift your mood. It really will.
Moving is not glamorous. It most certainly does not look like the image above! But it’s an adventure nonetheless and you need to grant yourself a healthy dose of grace. Laugh a lot and take it one task at at time. I told you the story of my parents stopping by and crying when I realized they were right. I kept thinking of that funny question, “How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time. When my husband and I were literally exhausted we would look at each other and whisper, “Elephant.”
While the process of moving is for the birds, the act of relocating can be so very exciting. Growth and discovery only happen when we step outside of our comfort zone. So to all of you who are embarking on an upcoming move, go get ’em. Remember the elephant and your earmuffs and all will be well.
ps . . . random tips to help
- color code boxes so you know what rooms they go to
- use Ziploc bags to store nails, hardware, etc. for anything you need to rehang (label with a sharpie)
- create a small first aid/medical kit to have on hand. Ibuprofen is key. You’ll get a headache.
- when you first move in, do a grocery store run even if you’re exhausted as eating out gets very old
- be sure bedding is well labeled and easy to find (everyone needs good sleep)
- keep a binder of all important receipts, closing papers, business cards, etc.
- use paper plates & plastic cups for the first couple of days
- change your address (awesome list here)
- styrofoam plates work great in between dishes when packing
- have cold water and snacks for your movers
- if you are crazy organized, you’ll love this post
Great post, Courtney! Very honest and real. While we are not moving in the near future, we are not in our “forever home” so a move is likely to happen eventually. Will be keeping your tips in mind. I get stressed and anxious very easily so it is helpful to read such a realistic post. I will definitely remember the advice about it being a marathon. Thanks again!
Thank you for this.. What a fun little read and ideas Chelsea @ http://thewilliamsjourney1.blogspot.com
Carol Blanchet says
This was fabulous! Very practical and helpful. 🙂
Barbara M. says
When I was moving out of state, a friend offered me her guest room for the last couple of nights. What a blessing. My movers gave me a three-day window and of course they came the first day. So without my friend’s kindness I would have been sleeping on the floor of my empty apartment or checking into a hotel.
For anyone moving locally, particularly into or out of a rental, I’d suggest a 30-day overlap if possible. Yes, it is expensive. But when I moved from an apartment into a home I purchased, having those 30 days to move everything but the essentials and the furniture was great.
Great tips Courtney. While do not plan on moving anytime soon, we will be moving our youngest back home in December. We have moved those girls more times in the past four years they we care to count. Love the tip about the styrofoam plates between dishes!! Brilliant.
This is just what I needed! Permission to give myself grace. I am 31 weeks pregnant with triplets and we had to have a bigger house. We have been in our new house for a week and it’s driving me crazy that I can’t do much about the boxes that. are. everywhere. Letting others unpack me and help has been key, however has been difficult that I’m not able to do it myself. Thanks for the encouraging post.
This is such a great post Courtney! Printing this out for sure! I agree with Lauren that the tip on using styrofoam plates in between dishes is genius. We discovered a box a couple weeks ago that somehow never got unpacked from a move four years ago. Your color coding and properly marking the boxes is key. Super helpful post!!
My biggest tip would be to seriously purge while packing–nothing is worse than having a whole bunch of stuff that you’re just moving from place to place without actually ever using it.
Christi L Duke says
We are moving 5 miles (I keep telling myself it’s for more space!) and my husband doesn’t think it will take long to box up our house..haha!!!
These are great tips!