Thursday, August 07, 2008

Making Moving Day Easier...

Everybody dreads moving day. The frenzy of packing, the agony of getting things loaded, then transported, then unloaded again, and finally the struggle to unpack and find a place for everything.

The worst part of moving, for me, was finding stuff, especially in those first few chaotic days. Where is the breakfast cereal? Which box has the toilet paper in it? Where are the sheets and pillow cases? What happened to the box with my make up in it?

I have moved quite a bit in my life, although in later years I started staying in one place for more extended periods, but one thing frequent moving has taught me is how to organize to make it as painless as possible. Let me share some of my techniques with you:

Start Immediately: We almost always have at least a month’s advance notice that moving day is coming up. If you are selling your home, you probably have even more. So, don’t procrastinate…get a bunch of boxes and drag that stack of old newspapers out of the garage and get started right away. Oh yeah…invest in a big felt-tipped pen…it’s key to finding stuff later.

Most of us have too much stuff and if we are selling a house, that sense of clutter that our collections and ornaments creates can prejudice buyers against us by making the house seem too small. So, start by severely editing your bric-a-brac, books, doilies, videos, CDs/DVDs and other items that are filling book shelves and covering your flat surfaces. You’re moving and you have to pack them up anyway, so do double duty and de-clutter while you get a head start on the packing. Rule of thumb: leave no more than three things (small things) on a shelf or flat surface, no matter how big it is. This includes china and display cabinets.

Another place to pack up early is the linen cupboard. You only need two sets of sheets per bed (one on the bed, one in the wash), none of the spare blankets and table linens (just keep out one good set for setting a nice table for viewers of a house for sale), and probably very little else you have in there. Such things as light globes, extension cords, etc….things that you may need before you depart...should be placed neatly in small labelled boxes and returned to the shelves. That makes them available for use, but easy to grab and put in the moving van.

Mark your boxes: We all know to wrap breakables in paper, but do you know how to properly mark a box? Boxes, which should be taped shut on the bottom, not tucked, should be marked on the top and on one side. What should you mark? Mark a large “F” (for “from”) on the top and the side, followed by the place the contents came from: “M Bedroom,” “Hall cupboard,” “Big Bath.” This will help you find stuff when you remember where you used to keep it, but not which box it is in. You can add a notation as to the contents if there is more than one box from that area: “bedding,” or “laundry supplies” or “big pots.”

Next, below the “F,” mark the letter “T” (for “to”). This tells the movers (and you) where the boxes belong. “Dining Room” or “Bedroom 1” is usually sufficient. This way the boxes get placed in the rooms where you are going to unpack them.

But what about those boxes you are packing in advance? If you haven’t secured a new house, how do you know what room they are going into? Well, that can be left to later…just make sure you clearly mark the contents and original location clearly: “bowling trophies,” “train schedule collection,” or “tall display cabinet.”

Logical order: when moving day actually arrives, it is important to make sure that things are packed into the van in logical order. Ask yourself: “what am I going to need immediately?” and pack that stuff into the van last.

Here’s a list you can add to:
Toilet paper
Drinking glasses
Toiletries: toothbrush/paste, hair brush, soap, creams, razor, shampoo, conditioner
Towels and wash cloths
Change of clothes, including socks and underwear
Feminine hygiene products (stress can bring it on!)
Black plastic trash bags (for the trash that accumulates while you are unpacking)
Cleaning supplies and tools (vacuum, mops/cloths, bucket, broom, bleach, etc)

If you have children:
Breakfast cereal, bowls, spoons
Change of clothes and shoes
Special toy or blanket
Toys or games to keep children occupied

If you have a baby or toddler:
Baby gate if the new place has stairs
Baby food/formula
Bottles, spoons, etc
Diapers (nappies) and disposal bags
Baby wipes
Means to heat baby food/formula (maybe your microwave)
Playpen/bouncy chair/swing or another safe place to leave child while doors are open and you are preoccupied.

If you have pets:
Pet’s bed, bowls
Pet food
Pet toys
Leash, carrier, or means of restraint/confinement

With the exception of the pet restraint/confinement items, you should pack up the items on the list before the movers arrive and set them aside. Packing as much as possible into luggage and duffel bags allows you to avoid moving empty luggage and gives a visual signal to movers that this is not just another box to toss into the truck.

As soon as the moving van arrives, round up your pets and confine them where they can’t be underfoot or sneak out the open doors. Cats, in particular, are sensitive to this kind of thing, so it is best to collect the cats first thing in the morning and put them in cat carriers. This is not cruel…cats don’t mind small confined spaces, and if you turn the door of the carrier to a wall and toss a towel over the carrier, the cat will feel safer.

Make sure the listed items, including the beds, are the very last things packed into the van. This will make them the very first items removed and taken inside. If nothing else, you will have clean clothes, the ability to take a shower, and your own bed on your first night in your new home.

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