My big move is about 10 days away and I am feeling surprisingly good about the state of my house. I went through a few rough patches in the beginning—when I was completely overwhelmed by the whole process—but since then my husband and I have been working hard to divide and conquer while still maintaining some sense of normalcy for the kids. Sure, I've made a few mistakes along the way, but I've also had some success that might help you if a move is in your future.
Let's face it, packing is never easy. Or fun. If you have the resources to hire professional packers, then by all means, do it. But if you're already accumulating major moving costs, as we are, packing is something you can do yourself, as long as you give yourself enough time. How much time is enough? Depends on your house and your possessions! We're moving out of a four bedroom colonial we've lived in for almost 10 years. We also have two little boys and a couple of pet rocks. Fact is, we've been packing since the day we knew we'd be moving and you should, too.
1. Start on the day you begin de-cluttering, especially if you are putting your house on the market. Put away seasonal items first and designate a spot in your garage or basement where your boxes will continue to be stored until the move gets closer.
2. Stock up on supplies. If you've hired a moving company, they will probably give you boxes, tape and packing paper at little to no cost. Here it's best to over estimate what you think you will need. The moving company will take the overages back with them. If you need to purchase supplies, check your local Home Depot or order supplies online. You can use an online moving box calculator to estimate a base number of boxes.
3. Enlist help. If you have friends or family who offer to help, let them! Have a friend pack a room you don't use on a regular basis (like the Dining Room) or inventory your valuables. If your friend is not one for packing, ask her to watch your kids or take them on an outing so you have a block of time to tackle a single room or area.
4. Pack room by room. There's a great sense of accomplishment when you are able to say "basement is all done" or "attic is swept." Consolidate rooms when possible. A few weeks ago I moved one of my boys into his brother's room and it's been great. They've enjoyed being bunkmates and I've freed up another bedroom for storing boxes.
5. Keep a donation box, recycling bin, and industrial trash bag in a designated spot on each floor or in each area of your home. As you clean and purge throughout the week, drop items where they belong. It's much easier to tackle a kitchen cabinet every night rather than waiting to do it all on the weekend.
6. Don't move something you don't use regularly now. This includes books, clothes, small appliances and drawers full of school artwork.
7. Schedule pick ups for charitable donations. Try the Vietnam Veterans Association and Got Books. If you have old cell phones or PDAs, check out recyclingforcharities.com. Here you can pick a charity you'd like to donate to, print out a ready-made shipping label and tax receipt, and send your electronic items in for recycling.
8. Invest in several large, clear plastic storage containers with hinged lids and keep two in every room as the move date approaches. Here you can store daily use items and still have easy access. Consider using clear bins for a selection of toys and games, kids' crafts and home office supplies. Keep these bins off the moving truck so you'll have quick access to them throughout the move and again when you arrive at your new home.
9. Buy plastic and paper plates, cups and utensils in bulk and use only them for the last week you are in the house. You really can survive without your favorite kitchen gadgets and serving bowls. Dine outdoors, order takeout or have a picnic in the living room. Just be sure to always have your favorite drinks in the fridge.
10. Finally, if budget permits, schedule a cleaning crew to come in immediately after the movers are done. Most home sales require the house to be broom swept. At the end of an emotional and busy move day, are you really going to feel like cleaning for someone else?