Next month, my family will be moving to a new house. It’s both exciting and daunting. I know I’m not alone in wishing I could just snap my fingers, and have it done. Beyoncé can probably do that, but not me.
I am preparing myself for the work of moving. The unexpected bonus from having moved dozens of times in my life is that I’ve got a system that I think is pretty good. Some of my tips might be controversial. Make no mistake, this isn’t Martha Stewart moving. This is moving made easy. My system prevents mom-rage, tears, broken furniture and burnout.
For the love of God, hire movers.
When I was 20 or so, with a one-year-old, hiring movers probably didn’t even occur to me as a possibility. I did the only thing I knew to do, move everything myself with the help of whatever friends I had. Long story short, my friends broke an antique family heirloom that I repeatedly asked them to be careful with, and then they got mad when I was upset because, “We’re doing you a favor!”
I have hired movers for every subsequent move. I may have had to save up for months to be able to afford it, but it was worth every penny to me. And when you crunch the numbers, it’s not that expensive, comparatively. True, you’ll probably end up saving a few dollars if you move yourself. But probably not as many dollars as you think. If you pack and the movers move, it’s a happy medium between saving money and staying sane.
Personally, my sanity, time and energy are worth a lot to me. Not to mention the security of knowing my belongings are going to be moved professionally and that the moving company is bonded and insured. Getting someone else to do the heavy lifting helps me save my energy for the packing and unpacking as well as the other administrative duties involved with moving (transferring utilities, forwarding mail, cleaning previous properties, etc).
Also, I prefer the transactional nature of hiring professionals over enlisting the help of friends. I don’t know about you, but I hate to be indebted to people. There are no blurry expectations when you’ve hired someone. If a professional moving company broke an antique, I would get compensated — not questioned — when upset.
Invest in plastic tubs.
One of the best things I’ve done for myself was to invest in plastic storage tubs in a variety of sizes. I probably have about 30 of them. When I’m not moving, they mostly stay empty and unused. When it’s time to move, though, I don’t stress about where I will find boxes. I don’t buy too many or not enough from a website and pay $100 in shipping. You don’t see me posting on Facebook looking for box donations, scouring my workplace or foraging behind grocery stores. I simply get my tubs and get going.
Tubs are much sturdier than cardboard boxes and have lids that are secure. The stackability of tubs makes them easier to move and when I do have things I want to store, I always have receptacles at the ready. Mice can’t chew through the corners of them and they won’t get ruined if they’re wet. Moving on a rainy day? No problem.
You might even say that using plastic tubs is more environmentally friendly because they’re sure to last a long time. I’ve loaned my tubs to other people who are moving, preventing them from tossing a bunch of cardboard into the landfill, also.
Don’t wait to start packing. I start packing as early as a month before the move. This is another big stress saver. You can absolutely live without your knickknacks and your fine china and your dusty books for a month. Doing a little bit at a time helps you mentally prepare for the move. As you see your space changing, it triggers you to call the insurance company, the utility company, your internet provider and so on. If you try to wait until the week before the move, you’ll find that not only do you have to rush to pack everything, you also have to rush those administrative tasks that you didn’t consider and definitely didn’t allow enough time for.
Want an extra challenge? Pack your gaming consoles, TVs and computers early and shut off your internet. I bet it will be eye-opening to see how your kids, and you, tolerate the lack of artificial stimulation. You might even decide to be slow about hooking that stuff up at your new place.
Don’t bother trying to be organized.
That’s right. Don’t even bother. I told you these weren’t Martha Stewart’s methods. I came up with this philosophy after trying really hard to pack everything in the kitchen in “kitchen” boxes, and everything in the bathroom in “bathroom” boxes. What ends up happening is that my last kitchen box is half full and so I fill the extra space with books or board games. Repeat this process and everything is mixed up anyway. When you realize you’re labeling your boxes, “Kitchen stuff, a few books, a pair of glasses and some unopened mail,” it’s time to admit the truth – moving is messy. Stop trying to make it neat.
My process now is to pack everything within arm’s reach, regardless if it necessarily “belongs” in that space. I organize after I unpack. I reserve one or two boxes that I label, “Open immediately.” These contain the bills I need to pay, things I need for work, etc.
Purge after the move.
Except for things that have become trash or things you’ve planned to get rid of, you shouldn’t use packing as an opportunity to become a minimalist.
For one thing, this is an extra level of stress you don’t need in the middle of everything else you’re doing. Also, you’re in a frenzy, rushing to take care of everything else and at your wits-end with stuff. You are not in the right mind frame to be getting rid of things. You will over purge, and then once you move and settle, you’ll be sad that you decided Grandma’s Easter dish towels were trash. Trust me on this one.
I absolutely believe that moving is a good opportunity to re-evaluate possessions and decide what is truly valuable. I am simply saying to do it while you’re in the process of patiently filling a new space versus hurriedly emptying an old one. You can see how your mindset can differ.
What are your favorite moving tips?