Well, moving week is about here. My house is in complete disarray with boxes and packing materials stacked up against the walls so it’s slightly more “baby safe,” but let’s be real here… moving is not for babies.
SIDEBAR: Look, I know I’m a parent and I “signed up for this,” but if one more person says that when they ask me how I am and I tell them about moving (or anything about being busy) I will scream. When did that become an appropriate response to someone giving a life update? What if when you complained about your douchebag boss everyone said, “well, you signed a contract to work there!” Have compassion for parents. Parenting is literally SO IMPORTANT.
Moving is already hard enough even without any hiccups. Being a “planner” is a HUGE bonus when it comes to this stuff. Staying organized is really the only way to to prevent outright chaos during any moving adventure.
Plan? Plan what? EVERYTHING. Painting, cleaning the new house, switching water/electric over, figuring out the HOA stuff, and the biggest thing- getting your things from point A to point B.
Of course you can always hire movers to pack up everything extra good for you but that gets EXPENSIVE and a lot of people (me included) don’t love the idea of someone random packing up their valuables- not even for fear of it being stolen but more of fear that the same level of care won’t be handled.
I am an experience do-it-yourself mover! From literally one block over to across the country, I’ve done it all and helped many others too. I can pinch pennies with the best of them. Here is how I do it.
Save packing from anything you order online
Some people think my tips are a bit redneck but I say it’s just being environmentally conscious! Save packing materials that are already being sent directly to you. If Christmas happens to be near when you move, you’ll be in luck!
I’m talking more than boxes. The fillers is the good stuff. Buying packing peanuts and foam gets expensive quickly. Even certain packages are straight up lined with a bubble material- SAVE IT! You can slide plates right into those babies. I even save junk mail so I can shred it and use it for packing filler.
Ask stores for boxes
If I am being completely honest here, this works way better for girls. It’s not a high point for me but you can really lean into the “damsel in distress” stereotype to get what you want- and that would be BOXES! When I go hit up stores for their shipment boxes they are going to toss, not only will they say yes, but often they will even tell me a good time to come back for more and they will have them collected for me. When my husband goes? He either is told “no” or if given really tiny boxes. I find it hilarious it’s one of the few times being a woman worked out better.
I want to note that grocery stores now have a recycling program with Frito Lay where they come and pick up ALL their boxes. It’s contracted so DO NOT take any boxes without asking even if they are out back behind the store. If the stores says they can’t give the boxes, ask specifically for the produce boxes. They toss those. They aren’t great for knick-knacks but they are great for larger items!
Keep flimsy cardboard boxes from things like frozen meals and cereal after opening
My famous line, “Wait wait, don’t throw that out!”
I’m a bit of a dumpster diver. Only my own though. If you’re fixing to move soon, go dig through your recycling now and fish out those cardboard boxes from food in your pantry and freezer! No, you can’t pack anything inside them. You can make small accordion folds lengthwise through them to create the perfect cousion to slide between stack of picture frames, mirrors, plates etc.
The best way to recycle is to jump to reusing it yourself.
Labeling your boxes
Something so simple will end up saving you hours if not days of confusion during the move.
When I label my boxes there are multiple steps. First, does the box need to stand a certain way? Will something fall out or break if flipped up? Then indicate a direction with arrows on at least two sides. Then beside the arrow indicate which room it is to be brought into in the new house. This is great for if you plan on getting help with physically moving your things, you don’t have to be *as much* of a cruise director. Do that again on at least two sides, I normally do 4. Also include “FRAGILE” in the same area if needed.
Next, specifically on (at least) the top of the box include some buzz words to let you know what is in the box. This is a MUST for efficiency. On top, because that is what you will see before you tear into a box. When you start dealing with upwards of 20 boxes, you’re going to forget what gets packed where. Find exactly what you need in those first few days without wasting time and causing more messes by unpacking boxes haphazardly.
Buy the thick Sharpies and get labeling! If you miss this step you really will regret it.
Keep your separation piles in different rooms to avoid confusion
Make sure your separation piles aren’t getting mixed up! What I’m calling “separation piles” are your different piles of “giveaway,” “trash,” and “pack.”
I like to keep them in entirely different rooms. This is less of an efficiency thing and more as a precaution so you don’t end up without something you held special. Or even just stuff you were expecting to see. Ask me what happened to ALL of our Christmas china. (Don’t.)
I don’t think I need to elaborate more. Just keep everything in clear spaces that everyone agrees on until it’s time to take it all to their respective places.
Use household items as packing filler
We are back on packing filler. Why? YOU USE SO MUCH!
It seems so wasteful. Poor trees. So just like using my junk mail, I find household ways to provide cushion for my things. Pillows, blankets, clothes, stuffed animals, etc. Doing this will give you less boxes in the end, less to unpack (technically,) less waste to throw away at the end, and saves you money from having to buy all the packing stuff you would just throw away. Boom.
Use industrial saran wrap
This might actually be redneck. I don’t care. Sooooo, I never un-decorate my Christmas tree. That’s right. 4 years ago I won a Christmas tree that was professionally decorated. I knew I’d never be able to do that again so when it came time to take the tree down in January, I got industrial sized saran wrap, left the tree dressed and wrapped her up!
Now I never have to spend the time decorating the tree. (I love doing the house but the tree gets so tedious. It’s fun for about 5 minutes.) I do take off super delicate ones and those few give you enough of a taste every year to feel satisfied with fulfilling a Christmas tradition.
We can apply this to the move. Certain styles of bookcases and dressers don’t have to be unloaded. They can be left full and moved (with the proper help) if they are wrapped shut. Clothes in your closet can be left hung and wrapped up. Pots and pans can be stacked on top of eachother and wrapped up if you’re low in boxes. Large photos and art can be easily wrapped to protect from scratches. Get creative, you got a lot of it.
If you didn’t use it in this house, donate/toss it/sell/repurpose it. It’s done.
Shed yourself of the unused. Not to sound like Marie Condo or anything but it clearly didn’t serve you a purpose if it was still in a box from the last time you moved. Get rid of it- one way or another. Don’t turn into a hoarder!
This is a great time to also clean out your closet, throw out socks and undergarments with holes or frayed seaming, try on things and make sure your wardrobe fits. My favorite part of moving is the chance to REALLY clean out and downsize.
Going into your new home and starting a new chapter is much easier with less “baggage.”
Clean as you pack
The worst part about packing is when you’re doing moving everything around and clearing out spaces that previously held furniture is that it unearths so must filth! The best thing to do to avoid hours of cleaning after a long **s day of packing is to clean as you go.
As tempting as it is to say “I’ll get that after,” you should just have the vacuum there with you and ready to fire. Keep cleaning spray in the room you are packing. Make sure not only are you cleaning out your old space, but clean the things you are packing up!
Dust off the hanging pictures and and clean the glass vases out before putting them away. It will make unpacking move more quickly- which is when you will actually start running out of steam. Packing you have the excited of getting to the new place but once you are there all you want to do is start living! Pack with the intention of making unpacking easier.
Pace yourself. It’s a marathon.
Most of all, remember to pace yourself. I have been packing for months. Literally. It’s hard with 6 month old and I knew it would be. That’s why when we took photos to sell the house and staged it- I packed all the “non-stage” items up. After we sold the house, I packed up staging items and decor. Now I have been slowly going through closets and storage areas to throw out anything that doesn’t need to come with us to the new house.
If you are allowed the time, take all of it. Don’t wait. You can make packing leisurely if you start early! Make a list for each stage of packing and get a timeline together so you can ensure it all gets done.
What a crazy time to be participating in the housing market. I felt like we were really fortunate with how things worked out. Blessed to be sharing these packing tips with you as I pack up my own house to move into a new family-oriented chapter of my life. I am so eager to take you with me as I have more space to create Mom with a Blog content and dive deeper into sharing my culinary world with you.
Hopefully this move is good for all of us. If you are setting off on your own journey, I wish you the best of luck and lots of grace.