No matter what size your family is, or even if it is just you that is moving, these tips apply to all movers out there. Read on to find some tips on packing to make your move easier from an experienced mover. I have moved seventeen times. My last nine moves were with at least one child of mine. In fact, my last move included seven children and I was very pregnant with the eighth (she was born four days later)! My husband and I have bought seven homes and sold six. Also, our family is frequently moving items out of abandoned storage units that we purchase to resell items as a family business. So we have had some practice!
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Packing Tips For Moving
Pray anytime you think about your next home. He knows the desire of your heart and like a good earthly Dad, He wants to fill that desire for you. Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Also pray when you need strength. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
Sleep is nice, but sometimes my best hours for packing were 4:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m. while my youngest kids were still asleep. I would also work during about a one hour naptime for my little ones with the older children's help. My husband would work on moving while I was doing the bedtime routine and later into the night from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. I would go to bed at the same time as my children. Often we would have older children help as well. This would give us a total of eight hours of at least one person working on this huge task. I hope that helps you to see how you can find time, even in a large homeschooling family.
Pay attention to what you are doing, how much time it takes, and think if there is a better way that will save time even if it costs a few dollars more. I give a few of these time-saving tips below, but only you know what your situation is like and how you are spending your time. Get rid of time wasters.
Keep in mind what is NOT a time waster: God, spouse, children, other family members who live with you, pets. You are needed in the home for a reason. Make time for and “pack around” those, not “instead of”.
You may need to purchase paper-ware for this moving season so you can spend less time washing dishes and more time packing. Every minute counts.
Enlist help from others as they are able. Maybe someday, you can repay the favor.
If you are in the abandoned storage unit resale business or have a friend that is, then you already have a lot of 18 gallon plastic totes and lids that you can use for your move. We usually have several.
One way we get boxes in Wisconsin, USA, is to go on Craigslist.com and search the free section or type in “boxes” in search. Often people that have just moved are happy to give them away after unpacking.
We prefer to go to fast food restaurants or grocery stores for moving boxes, they are free, just the right size and often high quality. Ask a restaurant or store manager and they can give you the details. They may have you come at a certain date or time or may need to unlock the cardboard box area for you. Often these boxes will be broken down and lying flattened, which makes them easy for you to haul and store until use.
Get yourself a high quality tape machine that holds quality clear packing tape. You want the best tape dispenser machine because you will not have time to “find the little cut end that came off track” each time you are taping a box. The tape needs to be quality as well so it will not break in the machine and you will have to find the ends. Plus, you don't have time to tape a box twice (you end up spending more money than the high quality tape price when you double-tape as well) to hold heavy items in. High quality tape does the job with one swipe. Purchase the packing tape in large quantities as you will go through a lot of it. You don't want to run out at 5:00 a.m. when you are caffeinated and ready to work hard! Plus it will waste your precious time if you have to make a special trip to get more. Hopefully, you are reading this early enough before you start packing so that you can order some on Amazon Prime (30 day free trial) with the two day shipping plan.
I know lots of families will find tissue paper to wrap breakables in, but I absolutely love and swear by this brand of bubble wrap in a huge box. We have tried tissue paper and newspaper and things get broken that way. When I wrap with bubble wrap, I don't have problems. There is a rule about bubble wrap and precious collectibles. You need to pack them with the bubbles facing away from the item. The gas in the bubbles, if broken or leaking, can affect paint jobs on treasures like Breyer model horses for example. Often, we will wrap a treasured item in a plastic grocery store bag, then wrap in bubble wrap. If you have a large roll of clean paper, you could wrap in paper, then bubble wrap. Bubble wrap is really all you need though. If I have used newspapers, I will wad them up for extra cushioning on top of or around the bubble-wrapped item.
Wondering what to do with the bubble wrap after moving? If you sell items online, save it for shipping! If not, put the lot of it up for sale on Craigslist or Facebook or offer it for free. Other online sellers are always looking for deals on packing materials. I know because I am an online seller.
What NOT To Pack
This is where you know more details about your situation than I do. You know if your home is still for sale and you have no idea when it will sell and you will move, or if you are moving for sure in three weeks. As you plan, think of what items you will still need out until that time. If you don't know when “that time” is, plan on what you would need for a year because then you have everything you need available to you for four seasons. With each item, decide whether to keep, pack, donate, sell, or trash. Your new phrase is “less to move”.
Think about homeschool needs. Have you planned out the next year if you don't know when you will move? Be sure to keep those items out. Do you have everything you need to do homeschool until you move? During homeschool hours, really try to motivate the kids to get their work done (maybe even early) so no one falls behind. On the other hand, if you are moving quickly, you may need to take a holiday off homeschool until after the move. I have done both. I love the flexibility of homeschooling. If you have children that attend school outside the home, be sure they have everything they need for school until the move, including an extra lunch bag or backpack in case one breaks to save time. If you need the printer or use online materials, leave out what you need, including passwords.
Remember sports or activities that may come up before the move. For example, my children are in a bowling group from September to April. If I am in “move mode” in July, I may forget this and pack the bowling equipment. Then if I am not moving in the new house until October, I will be hunting for the packed box, which would be a waste of precious little time.
We want to pack as much as possible in the kitchen, but there are some things we can't do without. Think about what those are. You may be able to pack the lefse making equipment, but not the toaster!
Do not put food of any kind, even spices, in a packed stored box. Save all food until moving day and keep track of it so you know where it is. If your boxes are packed and stored in a storage unit at a storage business, food attracts critters – who may chew through your containers and leave unwanted droppings and chew marks.
Do not pack batteries and always take batteries out of battery operated items before putting them into storage.
Do not pack aerosol cans or liquids, like shampoo, or lotion. These items can leak or freeze and burst then leak as they freeze and thaw in storage.
Some photographs do not hold up well in a storage unit due to fluctuating temperatures and humidity.
If you are going to put a computer in a storage unit, make sure it does not get too hot or too cold.
Think About What You Can Put In The Trash – “less to move,” remember?
Everything you do pack, you need to label the boxes with a color coded label of the named room they will go into in the upper right corner on the front of each box, plus write a few words in black permanent marker to remind you what is in the box, like under a living room sticker you might write “DVDs.” These boxes will be placed in your storage area with the labels facing the walkway so you can easily find something if you do happen to need it before the move.
I like to color code according to the room because when I make some “color-code keys” to hang in different areas of the new house on moving day it makes it so easy for moving helpers to take the colored boxes to the right rooms. That saves me a ton of time later rather than digging through a heap of boxes dropped off in the garage and having to carry each one to unpack it. It saves me energy to use for cleaning/painting/unpacking in the new house!
You can get also get colorful duct tape to use instead of or in addition to color coded moving labels with room names. It is nice to have colorful duct tape for the children's bedrooms in addition to the other labels. Especially if two children share a room so their items can go to the proper sides of the room or closet for them to deal with when unpacking. In our last move, Miranda had Disney Frozen Elsa and Anna, Mason had Disney Frozen Kristoff and Sven, Maris had camouflage, Marissa had zebra stripes, etc. I put the small strip of duct tape right below the room name label and wording in the upper right corner of each box.
Plan A Packing Strategy And Then Pack According To Room
This is what I have done in this order. You can use these ideas, or make your own plan. You may have rooms that I don't even mention here. Basically, you will make a list of which areas to work on in order. As you pack them, leave notes to yourself of what needs to be packed on moving day, like smoke alarms, curtains, sandbox and swingset, if you get to take them. Also for moving day, write: food, spices, batteries, computer, toaster, etc.
Wall Decor and Wildlife Mounts / Hallway
I pack these first, mostly for depersonalizing and home staging purposes if my current home is still being shown to prospective buyers. Be sure to label them according to room or rooms if you need to have multiple rooms in one box to fill the box.
Garage or Garden Shed
I always do this next because I need room to put my packed boxes there. I mention tips on packing this in Preparing Your Home For Sale. Start in the attic or rafters. Next clear one entire side of the garage. Then begin at the door and work your way around the building clockwise until finished. It seems like a huge project. You may have to do this in chunks of time that is available to you.
Get everything out of the attic and set it in part of your empty garage floor area and deal with each item.
If your basement is sectioned off, make a list of rooms starting at the stairway going clockwise. If you don't have a garage or not enough garage space for your packed boxes, this is another option of where to put packed boxes. It is a challenge, takes more time and energy to haul everything down the stairs to be brought back up, though. It may be better for you to rent a storage unit in a wise and safe way.
I like to start in my bedroom first as I seem to have more items I will not be using (like photo albums, books, craft materials, etc.) and I know I will make it look extremely empty to help the house sell better. After I pack the book and photo album shelves, I take those out to the garage to open up the room even more for a crowd of viewers. I really go through my clothes to think of what I will need until my move. Even if I don't know when I am moving, if I have 16 sweaters, for example, I will only leave out what I think I would use before wash day each week in winter. I really pare down my shoes, jackets, etc. as well and pack the rest. I want my closet to look very roomy and I want less to pack when moving day gets closer.
Next, I move to the kids' bedrooms. Teens can pack themselves, but I remind them of all the rules. No food, no trash, no empty pop cans, no aerosol cans, no liquids, no batteries, basically the rules you would see on a storage unit rental contract. Also: boxes must be packed full and well – no partially packed boxes. Even if something is breakable, it must be packed with packaging materials around it. I make them go through their clothes and shoes too. We do allow the teens to use bubble wrap for their special items as well.
Bedding tip: The clothes hampers (I have one for each child in their bedrooms) will be close to empty on moving day as you have done all the laundry just before then. Place all the child's sheets, pillow and blankets in their own clothes hamper, which is labeled with the room and their color of duct tape.
Toys or Toy Room
I know the kids need something to play with until moving day, but we have a lot of toys! After eight children, they just seem to have multiplied after all of those birthdays and holidays! I really like how I have it organized now and it's easy for the kids to put their items back because they have a “toy home.”
Take a photo of how your toys were organized at your last house in case you can do it the same way at the new house. If it takes several months to move, you might not remember exactly how you had it and the photo will help.
For the moving period, I need to have a lot of them packed, especially if my house is still for sale, as my buyer may not have children. This is a time that I allow my children to mix several different types of toys into a few “toy boxes.”
For younger children, I get each of them a few medium sized latch box storage tote containers with lids. Each child puts his or her special bedroom colorful duct tape on the box and chooses toys from each of my organized toy containers (they may want some Lincoln Logs, Matchbox Cars, trains and tracks in one box, for example) to keep in their boxes to play with until we unpack at the new house. Again, This is a time that I am okay with them combining toys because there will be so few of them.
They also pick some sleep items to keep out like favorite stuffed animals or dolls, special pillows, or special blankets. Those items they may keep on their beds. I also keep out some books, activities (like coloring books and crayons and a few puzzles), DVDs, etc. that I may keep in a larger “kids activities” tote. I don't keep this where they have access to it without my permission though.
Board and Card Games: We save out some for our family game nights and pack the rest. I like to keep decks of cards and a little booklet on card game rules, paper and pen for score and some smaller games so I can keep them all in one small tote. Everything else gets packed and will be new and fun again when we get settled in the new place.
When we get to the new house and unpack, all the toys and games will be taken from their containers and organized into the larger toy room along with the others we haven't seen in a while. This is a fun time for the children, but then I need to retrain to keep similar toys together and put them back where they belong. It doesn't take long and they get the hang of it.
In our dining room, there is a desk with computer, etc. We pack what we can from the drawers and desktop that are not needed, but the rest stays there until moving day because we need them every day. Before moving electronics, sound systems, etc., take a photograph of where the wires go. You could also put masking tape on each cord with numbers and tape near the holes in the unit with the matching numbers.
The coats, hats, scarves, mittens, snowpants, etc. are part of my mud room. It depends on when we are moving whether I pack them or not. I will put the majority of these in a tote in the garage for the day for house showings.
My living room has cupboards and shelves that store my homeschool books for the current year (my basement has the other years.) I keep out what I will need until I move and I pack everything else. We haul the cupboards and shelves out to the garage too.
We ask each person in the family to choose three DVDs they might want to watch before moving and the rest get packed! If we know Christmas is coming before our move, we will store those DVDs where we know we can find them. We do the same with Wii games.
We keep story and chapter books on shelves in our living room as well. We have each family member choose a certain amount of books and pack the rest. This number has changed with each move for me.
Now we take the combined DVDs, games and books and store them in one cupboard and put the remaining cupboards and shelves in storage. We label the furniture with what room it goes in right before it gets taken to storage to make it easier for moving help and ourselves.
Remember, before moving electronics, sound systems, etc., take a photograph of where the wires go. You could also put masking tape on each cord with numbers and tape near the holes in the unit with the matching numbers.
Start up high, what can you pack that is above cupboards, pantries and the refrigerator? Next, start at the kitchen door and go around the room clockwise from upper to lower in each section. Do not pack food, spices, oils, etc.
Only keep out what you really think you will need until the move. I love waffles, but I know I am going to pack all three waffle makers (Why three? With my family of ten – I don't want to stand there all day making waffles. I like to get a lot done at once!) So, the day before I pack the kitchen, I make waffles. Then, I don't feel guilty about packing them and if someone wants waffles for a birthday, we get frozen ones or go out to eat instead. It's a treat to us because we don't usually do that.
I pack the lefse equipment and if we have a family get together where it is required, I buy it from my aunt or cousins or at a store.
There is a collection of cookbooks in my kitchen! I make myself narrow it down to two and my recipe box and pack the rest.
Try to use up as much food as possible before the move. When the move gets within 30 days or less, I make up a menu including food items we already have so we can better use them up. We use up a lot of the baking items like flour and start using store bought biscuits, cookies, etc.
Many of the items in your laundry room will have to be kept out as they are cleaning items, flashlights, batteries and sunscreens and you will need them, but look around. If you have stored something in there like tablecloths or gardening tools, you may be able to pack them.
Laundry Tip: Get all the laundry done as close as you can before moving day so you won't have to worry about laundry for a few days in the new home.
This might be a linen closet. Keep one spare change of sheets for each bed and maybe a blanket per person. Keep just a few spare pillows and pillowcases. Keep out a sleeping bag per person in case the moving truck does not arrive when you would like. Everything else can be packed. Remember you are labeling it just in case you need these items.
We usually don't have anything we can pack other than decor in the bathroom because we are either using everything or the items do not do well in storage. I do make notes in my schedule for the few days before moving to get things ready to go.
Pack More As The Date Gets Closer
As the date draws near, walk through each room, starting at the front door and go clockwise around your house on each level and outdoors and pack and store what you will not need before moving day.
I hope this article has been helpful for your next move.
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