Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Not Yo' Momma's Moving Tips

There are a lot of articles out there about how to simplify the process of moving from one home to another. Despite the breadth of information, there does not seem to be a lot of depth. And most seem to candy coat the experience like, "start well in advance and the transition will be seamless."

I may not be an organizational expert, but I do feel pretty well versed in the subject of packing moving boxes, after all this is my eleventh move in seven years. Despite what those other "helpful hints" columns may tout, there is no way around the fact that moving - specifically packing - is tedious, hard work and cannot be over simplified.

Now I could tell you about how I pack small items in labeled shoe boxes, then pack them into bigger boxes based on what room they'll end up in...

Sidebar: I always pack based on room, not function. What good does gathering all the spare power cords into one box do if they'll need to be doled out to different rooms once you arrive? No matter how well you label, that will end up a tangled mess.

...or how shipment boxes from Gap are the perfect size for three rows, two layers of DVDs.

Just saying.

But what we'd all really like to talk about how moving can be made more tolerable.

1. Loud music: Think Backstreet Boys, the Pitch Perfect soundtrack, or Disney tunes. Light guilty pleasure music you can't help but belt really improves anyone's mood. You could even settle for 'NSYNC.

Watching a favorite TV show on Netflix or DVD also works, just make sure you've seen it a thousand times and it's light-hearted. This is not the time to start watching Breaking Bad (am I the only person who still hasn't seen it?!) nor is it the time to re-watch season four of Dexter as the goal is to remain motivated. That junk will pull you in no matter how many times you've seen it. I still can't believe Trinity killed [blank]. (the Woodward Place is semi-committed to remaining spoiler free)

2. Alcohol: For those of you with a cat who swats every cord being rolled up or a dog who has to smell every. single. drawer you open, take the edge off with some light day drinking. Not only does it improve your singing voice dramatically, you'll have a much better sense of humor about all those little annoyances. Caution: we are trying to accomplish a goal so you should probably avoid liquor drinks. Now is not the time for Margarita Fest 2013 to commence.

3. Get comfy: What better time to wear a threadbare t-shirt with sweatpants and no bra than when you're shamelessly singing Lily Allen while buzzed on Light Cider.

4. Purge ruthlessly: I try not to accumulate stuff that I don't find to be beautiful or know to be useful...but stocking stuffers happen.

Even when I'm not preparing to move, I have three piles constantly building with stuff to Donate, Sell, and Repair/Clean (I hope to refine this system once we're in the house so I'll go into more depth later). When a bag gets full, I do what it says. Donate goes to Goodwill, Sell goes to Plato's Closet or on eBay, and Clean goes to the cleaners. Simple enough.

When we're moving, these piles grow fast. Since clothes are my clutter weakness, I made myself a rule: every time I get dressed in the morning then change at the last minute because that top accentuates my back fat or whatever, it goes into the Donate or Sell bag. If I don't like it enough to wear it that day, I don't need to keep it.

This is also the perfect time to replace something that is wearing out. Our cats' litter box is now four years old and is getting harder and harder to clean. I already bought the replacement, which I won't set up until we move in and the old one won't get packed, it will get trashed.

Sidebar: since moving can be more stressful for pets than for their people, pet supplies should be replaced with identical products. If an identical product cannot be found or no longer meets your needs, the replacement should be introduced prior to move or not for several weeks after.

Don't forget to get rid of the stuff that might be a necessity now but will be obsolete at your new residence. For example, we have a wire shower organizer that we couldn't live without now, so when we decided on our upgrades, we included tile shelves in our shower. Buh-bye wire shelves.

By purging all year long and then being ruthless immediately preceding a move, I find I have a lot less to pack.  

5. Don't touch his stuff: I don't want to, nor should I have to, figure out if my husband wants to keep all the notes he took in his Econ 604 class years ago or the 100% polyester Christmas tie that he will never be allowed to wear ever again. If it were up to me they'd be long gone, but he might actually miss something I throw out.

I go through and pack up everything I solely use or we mutually use and leave the rest for him. It is then his responsibility to toss or pack. Since throwing something in the trash is significantly easier than my labeling system I have found this to be a very effective method of purging his belongings without lifting a finger.

6. Don't start too early: Who really wants to live out of boxes for a month or more?! To me, that only adds to the stress of moving. If I want to watch High School Musical (yes, I not only own it but my mind gives me almost no warning before deciding I need some Zefron time), I don't want a taped up box to stop me nor do I want to feel guilty about unpacking when I should be doing the opposite.

I typically start about one week before the move and try and work in stages, accomplishing about a stage a day. The first stuff I pack is always the decorative stuff that won't stop needs from being met if it's boxed up. Art, pictures, and trinkets are the first to go.

From there, I pack rarely used items according to where they'll go in the new location. If some books will reside in the living room and others will move to the office, now is the time to separate them out.

A few days before the move I pack stuff that I might miss but cannot predict (movies, video games, rarely used beauty items, etc.). This is the stuff I can easily live without, but I really don't want to.

I wait until the day before to pack clothing and toiletries. Unless you're the type of person who can plan out your wardrobe a week in advance, this is crucial. This way, I only have to leave out comfy clothes, sturdy shoes, and my most basic toiletries for the morning of the move.

No matter how early you start, there will always be a few boxes that are haphazardly packed the morning of. Accept this and move on.

Cleaning supplies don't go anywhere until the current place is completely empty of everything else.

7. But give yourself plenty of time: One of the things that makes moving most tolerable is that it practically forces you to be nostalgic. Allow yourself to look through photo albums or page through your commemorative Royal Wedding Edition of People magazine. Don't rush past all the fun that can be had. And if something doesn't make you as happy as you thought it would, toss it.


  1. I love tip number 2! And I haven't seen Breaking Bad either, only seen enough to pester Tony by asking 20 questions during the show about why things are happening or people are being killed.

    Congrats on the house!

    1. No. 2 is my personal favorite as well. I hope Tony takes the 20 questions better than Pat. I'm so bad that at this point, I can't even get question no.1 out before he's all, "can I just watch my show?!"