It's no secret we're moving in a couple of months. My husband has really only done one big move (the one here to Iowa) but I grew up in a family that moved every 2-4 years as a kid. Now, that's no where near what a military family does, and I'm sure they all have better tips (please share if you do!). Here are my tips for moving yourself if you're poor college kids like us and can't afford professional movers. ;)
My family had professional movers when I was younger, but once I got out of the house, I had to move myself. I ended up doing around five moves in a two year period. Those were a cake walk compared to the move with a husband and a child. It's amazing the amount of stuff you have with a child. Not to mention, you have to try to find time to pack with a child deciding they just HAVE to have that toy you just packed.
1) Start Early
With our move here to Iowa, we were only moving a 800 square foot house. I started about 3 months early. Sounds extreme, but I just had a baby and only had a limited time. Now I have a 1600 sq ft house that I've filled over the past four years, two kids and a full time job. I started (albeit casually) about 6 months early. There are things I know I can pack early like toys (no need for all those toys to be out and about to make my house dirtier) or seasonal items.
You also need to reserve your moving truck early if you're going to use one. We live next to a college town so you better believe every other graduate is going to be moving the exact same time. We're going to put off our move by a couple of weeks to make it a bit easier to get a truck and avoid the congestion of the post-graduate moves.
Although you would never know it by looking at my house, I have a Type A personality. I think it's hard not to be a organization freak and own a label maker. :) Last time we moved, I was lucky to have boxes that were all the same size without additional markings. (Not so fortunately, I got them as a result of my parent's house fire) This time around I have a ton of boxes since my parents recently moved, but they are all sorts of different boxes. This makes it very difficult to 1) stack the boxes nicely, and 2) mark the boxes consistantly. It's hard to see my labels when there is a bunch of different branding on the box (not to mention labels from my parent's move).
This time around I took a package of bright copy paper I had sitting around and created labels. Each room will have a different color. Each label will have the room name, the box #, and the contents. The label will be affixed to the side of the box (make it a bit easier to see each box contents when they are stacked). The box # will make it easier to make sure the entire load of boxes make it's way to the new house and will also let us know how "important" a box is to unpack. In theory the high numbers will be the last boxes packed and therefore be a bit more important to unpack. I also marked Fragile items with a marker. Those items are being stacked in a different location and will be packed in our car rather than the moving truck. (Vintage pyrex and my grandmother's crystal!) We will also have a personal overnight bag packed for each member of the family so we don't have to rush to get to clothes or diapers.
3) A Moving Plan
We have started formulating the timeline of the days we'll load up, clean, drive and unload. Thankfully our landlords have done this themselves and are flexible with our timeline. (Necessary when you're trying to purchase a home) Next, we'll rally the troops of people helping. It's important to have shifts of help. A fresh crew of people will help the work move along. We'll also started to schedule child care for the days we're loading and unloading. Finally, we're making a list of items we aren't going to move. We have a washer and dryer waiting for us at our destination so we'll sell our (fairly) new washer. We're planning on replacing couches, dressers, etc. to match the space we're buying. I'm going to start the process of selling items early, so we can hopefully get things moving out of the house before the big move day. That may mean our table sits on a card table for a couple of months, but that is perfectly fine by us.
We are also removing decorations from the walls starting at the top of the house and moving down. That way I can start the process of filling in holes and cleaning up the walls. I have started contacting different companies about disconnecting internet/tv etc. so we can schedule the disconnect and reconnect without too much disruption. This is very necessary when I'm transitioning to telecommuting. We started our house hunt super early because we wanted to see what was out there. Going out and looking at houses has really helped us zero in on what we want. We found a house I like, but my husband still has to make the 6 hour trip to look himself.
4) Preparing our Kids
Our son is too young to realize he's moving. Our daughter is just old enough that she gets what's going to go on, but doesn't grasp everything. We're reading the "moving" story every night. That story comes from the Usborne First Experiences book. I couldn't recommend a book more. That book is what we read to our daughter before her brother was born, before her first visit to the dentist and before her brother's surgery. With this book, our daughter understands we're going to pack our things into boxes and take to a new house. She understands she's going to move closer to her family. She does not understand she has to leave her friends. Tonight we were explaining that she was going to go to school at a school near grandma and grandpa. She responded that she wanted her friend Livi to go to school with her. It almost made my husband and I cry. She is going to be heartbroken when she leaves her friends, but hopefully family and cousins make it better. She has been looking at houses online with her, and we're letting her help decorate her future room. (So far she is set on pink walls that sparkle). Her birthday is around the time of the move, so we're doing a big birthday/going away party for her. She's pretty excited about that idea.
|Our kids think boxes are the perfect canvas for their art.|
|Our daughter's idea of packing...making a tower!|
I once heard a comedian say that if you were to end up in hell, you would just be forced to move over and over again. Moving isn't fun, but hopefully being organized with a plan will keep things moving along!