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Smooth Moving: Tips and Tricks

Updated: Jun 18, 2023

Board states "Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful" with packing tape, a marker, and scissors.

As we prepare for our 12th move in just under 16 years, I thought this would be a good opportunity to share with you our best moving tips and tricks for making a move go smoother. As a homeschool mom in a family of 8, you can imagine that a move is a production. Anything you can do to streamline the process is worth it!

Preparing to Move
  • Make Plans for Kids and Pets

  • Declutter and Downsize

  • Get the Right Supplies

  • Have an Encourager

  • Order is Everything

  • Break it up in Bite Sized Chunks

  • Pack the Boxes Tight

  • Keep Good Records

  • Set Aside the Essentials

Make Plans for Kids and Pets

You should think of this step as your pre-planning. When you plan to pack you have to do something about the kids and pets. Maybe you can put the dogs in a crate for the time being or work in a room you can close off. However, kids are a little trickier. Every single move we have either had a child "help" and pack a box all wrong, or go behind us unpacking boxes because they wanted something. A few times this move, my mother in law has taken the twins for us, so that we can box. Other times I've set up the tv, and just regularly checked in on them to be sure that they aren't burning the house down. Either way, have a plan, they will be your wild card.

Declutter and Downsize

As mentioned in last week's blog, the first step in any successful move is to declutter and downsize, This is an exercise we have gone through every single move. Even if you are going to a bigger house, are having more children, or expanding a home based business, there are things that you no longer need or want. Taking time to go through things before you move saves in moving time and expenses, as well as mental energy. After all the only thing worse than moving, is moving junk just to get rid of it later.

Get the Right Supplies

You know what is annoying? It's when you are in full blown packing mode and you realize you don't have a marker that works, someone forgot to buy bubble wrap, your out of tape, and you didn't get anywhere near enough boxes. Having the right supplies and enough of them is crucial to making the most of your moving time. No one is going to guess exactly how many boxes you are going to need, in all the right sizes (if you ever do, come and buy me a lottery ticket). However, you can get plenty enough to make a good start. My suggestion is to get twice what you are going to box in a day, or enough for a week's worth of boxing. You can get boxes at Home Depot, Lowes, or U-Haul. In our experience U-Haul sells not only the cheapest but the sturdiest boxes. You can also go to the local grocery store or liquor store and often get sturdy boxes for free. If you anticipate storing anything long term, I would suggest getting at least some U-Haul boxes. If it's just a quick move with plans to unpack everything rather quickly, go for the free boxes.

Have an Encourager

Yes, you can box up and move by yourself, but it is a much less overwhelming project, and a great deal more fun if you have a good encourager. Having someone there solely to help you box helps you to make the most of the time. It also lets you make decisions more easily whether that's on what is to go verses stay or what order to pack. Not to mention it turns a task that is more drudgery into a companionable time with a good friend, and quite possibly one you might not see as often if you are moving away.

Order is Everything

This should be self-explanatory, but if you are boxing ahead of time, you need to start with items that you don't need to get to frequently or right away. For us we always start with the kids' rooms. We've sorted out a bookbag with a few special toys and items, separated their clothes that we will need, and so we start packing the rest. Another place you might begin would be with china, as opposed to everyday dishes. Or reference materials and an art closet rather than your current school books.

Break it up in Bite Sized Chunks

You are not going to pack the entire house in a day, you probably won't even pack an entire room in a single day. Set reasonable goals for yourself, and start early enough in the process that you don't have to have a marathon packing session of 16 hours with help (learn from my mistakes). With this move, a friend has come on several days to help me and be my encourager. One day we solely went through books, and if you are familiar with my love of books, you know why that took an entire day. We sorted them between keep and donating to the library, then boxed all the keeps and loaded up those to be donated to the library, before I could change my mind about keeping them. Another day we worked on boxing all the kids clothes that we wouldn't be taking in the camper. Tackling a closet at a time is often good policy because frequently we stuff or store things in them only to forget they are put away there.

Pack the Boxes Tight

You want your boxes packed tight. There are a number of reasons for this. You don't want anything inside to shift and possibly break. But even more importantly when you start stacking boxes on top of one another you don't want boxes to compact or crush from the weight of more boxes on top of them. This means if you are packing items with lots of space around them you have to stuff that space. You might do it with bubble wrap and wrapping paper, but you just as easily can fill space with sheets, blankets, towels, clothing, etc.

Keep Good Records

There are a few methods for keeping records, but it is imperative that you do so. There is nothing worse than getting to a new house, and starting on supper only to discover some vital item is in one of the still 50 boxes to be unpacked. One method is to write the room on the box with a short description of what's in it, for example: Girls' bedroom, Kate's clothes. This is the most popular method, according to my rather informal survey. Another method which I have used when packing, knowing that we were either moving a great distance, or that we didn't plan to unpack everything anyway, was to number the boxes, for example: School Room, 5. I then take a notebook and list each room on a page, note the box number and make a very detailed note on what's in it, for example: School Room, 5: School Books, Grammar and Spelling Resources, including All About Spelling Card box. Either method you use, the key is to label everything well in your records so that you can find what you need, and unpack the most important items first. Finally, you need to keep important personal records separate, incase they are needed before you get settled. That might be your personal planner, health records for your pets, numbers for local utilities and other companies, insurance information, etc.

Set Aside the Essentials

This brings us to our final point before moving day, set aside your essentials. You are going to need a week of clothes, toiletry items, medication, phone chargers, those papers we discussed in our record keeping section, etc all within arms reach. My suggestion is to pack a suitcase with all of these items and move them in your car on moving day. You don't want it to get mixed up with all the other boxes, bags, and things you are moving only to not be able to find it when you need it.

Moving Day
  • Dress Comfortably, especially consider your Shoes

  • Get Plenty of Help

  • Plan for Lunch

  • Cleaning and Closing Down Rooms

  • Keep an Upbeat Attitude

Dress Comfortably, especially consider your Shoes

It is important to be dressed comfortably for a day of working hauling boxes and moving furniture gets tiring fast. I would also advise clothes that you don't mind getting dirty or messed up. For some reason moving is a dusty, dirty, and sweaty job... or maybe it's just that all our moves seem to happen in the spring or summer. Shoes are also a huge consideration here, you don't want to be loading a moving truck in flip flops. A great pair of tennis shoes helps, you will be walking forward and backward, back and forth all day.

Get Plenty of Help

It is amazing if you can hire the job out. Twice we've had the company pay to relocate us, and once we were able to pay someone to load, move, and unload boxes. There is still plenty of work directing the chaos at both ends of the move, but it makes things so much easier. But, if you are like us most of the time, you con your family and good friends into helping, because you don't have money to pay for help. One great piece of advice from my father in law has been to always have an even number of helpers. You want to have pairs for moving larger items or heavier things. So, we always have pairs of menfolk for that, while everyone moves boxes when furniture isn't being brought.

Make a Plan for Lunch

This brings me to my next point, make a plan for lunch. If your friends and family are all helping you out of the goodness of their heart, the least you can do is say thank you excessively while providing a good lunch. For us that's often been plenty of pizza's so everyone can eat their fill. You want drinks, food, and all the paper products to use. After all we aren't washing dishes afterward, we are moving.

Cleaning and Closing Down Rooms

The final step to moving out is cleaning and closing up rooms. We have the habit of moving all the boxes out of a room that we can, before continuing to another room. This insures that those items tend to stay together, as well as letting us clear out rooms quicker. If you have never had the opportunity to watch my father-in-law play Tetris in 3D you should come and help us move this time. He stays on the truck and everyone brings items and furniture to him as he calls for it. He then wedges things in, to take advantage of every single cubic inch of space. As he is doing that, my mother-in-law runs the cleaning crew. The second every item is out of a room someone starts cleaning the room, vacuuming, wiping out window sills, etc. When the room is done, you close the door. The rule is that no one is allowed back into a room once the door is closed, because that room is finished. After all the house is loaded in the truck, and the rooms are all cleaned, one person does a final walk through. This is when you make sure nothing that needs to go on the truck has been missed and all the cleaning is done. Meanwhile everyone else stays out, because it keeps you from tracking back up rooms that have already been cleaned.

Keep an Upbeat Attitude

My final tip, may, in some ways, be the hardest to do - keep an upbeat attitude. It can be hard to stay positive when you have such a big job ahead of you. Moving everything whether across town or across the country can be daunting. It is especially difficult to stay upbeat as the day progresses and everyone gets hot and tired, but there is still so much work to do. Just remember that this too will end, and you still want to be friends with everyone who is helping you out at the end of the day.

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