Do you like moving? I know that for some people moving is no issue and it’s something they could do every few years if not every year, for others it’s a huge hurdle. I fall in the latter category. However, in both cases, a move is a move and you need to get organized.

I’ve had to move lately, not once but twice!

To back track a bit, we decided to put our house on sale and move to a different place. After visits and offers and everything in between, we finally accepted a great offer, with one downer which was the occupation date. We literally had 4 weeks before Christmas (a very busy time at work for both my husband and I) and although we clung to every hope that we’d find what we were looking for, we did not. Time passed and we found ourselves very very close to the Holidays, so it was a packing spree type of time amongst work, celebrations, kids, and so on. At that time, I knew I’m gonna have to move more than once, and even if I could simply not stand the idea, I had to come to terms with it and get on doing it the best way possible.

I’m no expert at moving but I knew I needed to be super organized because the possibility of having to store our stuff temporarily was a very valid option. This meant that I needed to know exactly what I had in my boxes and where they were.

So I took some time to brainstorm what would work best for us, and here what I came up with that worked quite well for us. If it can help someone during a chaotic and tiring time like a move, it makes me happy.

1. Start early. Time flies fast, and we often underestimate all the work that is involved in packing an entire house. If you think it would take you 2 weeks, add in another one to be safe and to do things at your pace without being rushed. There’s so much we can put away and not use daily that can be packed ahead of time.

2. Assess what you have. Go through your home one room at a time and write down what you need in terms of packing materials, number of boxes, size, etc.

  • Do you have fragile items? make an inventory of those items to make sure you get the right packing materials to avoid breakage. Fragile items also usually require more space in a box, so this will influence the number of boxes you need.
  • Do you have things that are precious? think of anything that has value, whether sentimental, monetary or other. You want those items stored properly and safely. So you may decide to keep some with you or put extra protection on them.
  • Are there things you may need on a daily basis or on the short term? make a list of those items to be sure you pack them all together and keep them easily accessible to you once you’ve moved.

3. Choose your packing materials. As much as possible, try to have identical size and shape boxes, not too big so as not to overload them but not too small either. This will facilitate transportation for the movers and yourself. I found size 12″x19″x12″ was perfect. Other things to consider to avoid waste: use your blankets, towels, sheets, etc. to protect fragile items. They will have to be washed anyway, so why not make use of them instead of trashing brown or bubble paper. Greener move 

4. Time to choose some colors. To keep things as organized as possible, I chose to give a color to each room and a number to each box pertaining to a color code. So I started an Excel file that details the room, the color code, the box numbers for each room and what is inside the box. What you’ll need: color felt pen, large enough sticker and your boxes.

5. Start one room at a time. Once you’ve assessed what you need, start one room at a time so you don’t scatter and overwhelm yourself. Start with rooms that have items you least use such as a basement, a guest room… Also, in each room, start packing items you least use. Every time you pack a box, number it with the proper color code on an adhesive label, write down the info and content of the box on your Excel file and move on to the next. I used the same labels for all the boxes and applied the numbered label on 2 top corners of each box (opposite diagonally) so that no matter how the boxes were moved, they’re still easy to identify. Involve your kids! They always feel proud being able to help and it acquaints them to the coming change.

6. Sort, clean, donate. You don’t realize how much stuff you own until you actually start packing! It’s the perfect time to go through your belongings and see if you really need them all. Donate as much as you can any item that is still in good condition to local shelters or associations. Anything that is no longer good, check with your city how to recycle or dump. Again, involve your kids when it comes to their toys and clothes!

7. Get help. This is precious if you can get help. Moving can be overwhelming and if you don’t have much time, are working and have kids in between all this, well any help can make a huge difference. Whether getting food from family or friends so you don’t spend time cooking to getting a hand with the boxes, say yes if you have it.

8. Keep aside a few things you’ll need most the last few days before the move. While it’s easier to go by one room at a time, reality is that you may still have to leave things behind till the last minute in a few rooms. But that’s ok because they’d be identified, and most items already packed.

9. Have kids? Keep some toys aside. Truth is they will ask to play till the very last minute, so yes, keep a few of their favourite toys with you to keep them occupied. Depending on their age, this is a period of instability where things are changing for them and you are not very present. So, keeping them busy and entertaining them to preserve their space as much as possible is the best.

10. If you can, have your kids babysat the day before until the day after the move. You’ll need to be efficient and move fast, and your kids will need to stay in their routine, play and so on. If someone can have them over for those few days, it is best for them and for you.

11. Clean. If you have access to the new place before the move, clean it as it’s much easier to clean when it’s empty. Even if you will clean again after the move, you at least know your belongings are being put in a clean place. Also, move a few things that you may immediately need while you unpack or that you don’t want to load in a huge truck. For me that was my coffee machine, coffee and a mug + all my house plants that I wanted to make sure they don’t break. Also a little reminder to clean the house you’re leaving as a courtesy for the next occupants.

12. Rest. I’m currently smiling while writing this because anyone who knows me knows how hard it is for me to do so  but, you do need rest because moving is exhausting so try to get as much of it as you can.

13. Instruct your movers. You know best where your items go, and you’ve numbered every box. So, when the movers arrive, make sure you’re at the new place to tell them where to put each box. It’s easier to put each box in the place it will be emptied, if possible, if not stack them in a corner. If you’re storing away most of your stuff, it will obviously be easier to dispatch.

14. Start with the essential. It’s so easy to get caught up in wanting to unpack everything upon arrival but you need to prioritize. What you will need most is beds, pjs, toiletry, food. Therefore, start with that because time flies and before you know evening will come and you’ll need to go to bed. Kids room came first to me, then move ours followed and so on.

15. Take breaks, hydrate, snack. You’ll need all the energy you can get to keep going. Now you’ve moved, but hey, unpacking is yet another story  if you’re like me and want everything done right away, put yourself reminder to drink water, take breaks and eat! And here again, if you can get help, take it!

To end my story, yes, I did move twice. We moved to a last minute found temporary rental house . The good thing is we did not have to store our stuff away, but most except the essentials were kept in boxes until we moved again to our new place 3 months later.

Anyone moving, hope this can be helpful and wish you all the best! If you have more tips, please share them in the comments below!

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