Growing up, we moved around quite a bit. This was exciting for me, as each move brought a new home, new room, new school, and new friends. While leaving was always hard, the new always gave me something to look forward to, and setting up my room was always one of my favorite parts. Fast-forward to adulthood and the new was fun, but carried a lot more responsibility. As I moved from college to seminary, to my first apartment, and then many other apartments, the benefit of a move became purging and reorganizing my belongings, so much so that I looked forward to moving so that I could go through and organize my life.
So, after six and half years in the same NYC apartment, moving to Chattanooga gave me the chance to reorganize things. Not only did I have years’ worth of my stuff, but now I have a husband and kiddo with their stuff. I’ve learned a thing or two about packing and reorganizing in the many moves. I hope to relieve some of those moving fears, making settling in more manageable, and for those of you not moving, give you a couple of tips to organize when spring cleaning.
- Make a plan. It sounds simple, but it’s an essential step to achieve the most success. When planning a big move, especially with kids, you can’t do it all at once. What can you pack and when? Which things can you pack first? Start with the things you don’t use daily. Make a list, and then as you have free time (for me, this was only during nap time), pack a box or two. Then, as the move gets closer, plan around the more day-to-day stuff. It wouldn’t play out perfectly, but it will lessen the chaos a lot.
- Purge. Maybe I should have said this first, but as you pack (or spring clean/winter clean — whatever you want to call it), get rid of what you don’t need. I love Buy Nothing communities on Facebook. These are great places to gift things we no longer need. Also, consider what you can sell for a little extra cash.
- Pack boxes by room. While some overlap might need to happen, try to keep like stuff together and think about which room the box will end up in. Then label boxes with which room to place it in and a short description of what is in each box. I label all my storage stuff, so when I need something, I can look at the box lid/side and decide where it’s located. Labeling will be a lifesaver, I promise.
- Pack the essentials last. This may seem obvious, but for moms, let’s be clear, all your baby/kid stuff is essential. Maybe not every toy and outfit, but save at least some of these for last. Once the big move happens, be sure to pack all these things near the truck’s door. You want the crib, changing table, toys, etc., to come out first, so those things are up and running even if things get behind.
- Stack packed boxes in a safe place. This was hard for us in a tiny NYC apartment, but luckily our baby was barely crawling, so I stacked all our boxes in the living room and placed his play enclosure where he couldn’t touch the boxes. You hopefully have more room for this. A garage or space bedroom would work wonders for getting packed boxes out of the way.
- Pack a travel bag/box. We knew we’d be on the road for three days and at my parents a couple more, so we packed a couple of suitcases for everything we’d need while in transit. For even a local move, think through your needs over the move/days of unpacking and pack a separate box or bag of things you can access immediately.
- Work smarter not harder. When it comes to moving, this phrase can be applied in many ways, but in particular, pack smart. If you have an entire library of books, pack them in several different boxes. No one wants to be carrying a 30 pound box. I often pack books in the bottom half of a box and then add towels or lightweight clothing to the top.
- Once you’ve perfectly packed and gotten moved, unpack in the most organized fashion. Make people think you have gone crazy with organizational/Maria Kondo energy. Place furniture where it is needed and carefully go through each box, finding a perfect place for each thing as it’s unpacked — no piles of clothes on beds and dressers. No kitchen counters cluttered with dishes. Unpack directly into the cabinet or drawer or closet where something belongs. This may take longer, but it will keep things organized.
- Purge again and keep it organized. Look to long-term success by regularly organizing things, especially highly used drawers, cabinets, and toy bins. You might find a useless item or two made it through the move, so don’t be afraid to toss things once you start organizing.
- Get help. The best way to manage the chaos of a move is to get help when you need it. Behind on your packing? Get a friend to watch your kids for a couple of hours so you can go through things and pack more than a box or two. Or call me, and I’ll pack for you if you promise I can purge along the way.