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When to Pack What When Moving {Tips for the DIY Move}

Posted Apr 02 2013 12:01am
Tips for the DIY Move When faced with the daunting task of packing up every single one of your belongings in order to move (across town, across country, doesn’t matter), it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and have no idea where to start. I’ve moved a few times; I know the feeling!

This past move, I had less than 3 weeks to get everything we owned packed up and ready to go, and I do believe I did a decent job of it. My DH felt like we had a few too many odds and ends that were moved as-is (by which I mean, not packed into boxes) when it came right down to it, but honestly, I’m not sure how most of that could have been packed in a box anyway. And I will freely admit that packing up the random stuff in the kitchen was down to the wire! But hey, I was working on a super-tight deadline, so I’m thinking I did pretty well.

I’m figuring most people have about a month to move, maybe more, maybe less. I’ve come up with a 4-week schedule to help you focus your packing so you can have everything ready to go come moving day without stressing yourself out or feeling overwhelmed in the meantime.

  • Pictures and Other Wall Decorations – Although those are the things that make a house a lovely place to live, the truth is you can live for a few weeks without them. Into the box they go, first thing!
  • Storage Closets – If it’s already packed in a box, then you’re in luck! Job’s already done. If not, though, this is the time to pack ‘em up.
  • Photo Albums & Scrapbooks – Nobody looks at these anyway except on special occasions, so this is an easy one to get out of the way.
  • Books – Chances are you won’t be doing a lot of reading in the next few weeks. Just sayin’.
  • Cookbooks – Any recipe you need is online anyway. (Plus you won’t be doing a lot of cooking either.) (Just sayin’.)
  • Off-Season Clothes – Hopefully, these are boxed up already, but if not, now’s the time to do it.
  • Table Linens & Fine China – Really, dining on fine china and table linens is the last thing you need to be doing about this time in your life. Stick to the bare table and the everyday stuff.
  • Vases, Decorative Bowls, and Other Assorted Fragile KnickKnacks – Take the time to pack these carefully, and get started now!
  • DVD’s/CD’s/Video Games – You might want to keep a few out if there are some that your clan plays on a regular basis and simply cannot live without. But chances are, their entertainment needs can be satisfied by the various digital options out there for the next few weeks.
  • Coat Closet – Keep one in-season coat and one set of accessories (hats, gloves, scarves, sun glasses, etc.) for each person, but pack up the rest. Choose wisely, though. I wrongly assumed that my lighter jacket would suffice since it was the beginning of March. WRONG!
  • Board Games/Puzzles/Toys – Don’t pack up the bulk of the toys yet, especially if your kids are little. But definitely pack up the board games and puzzles and anything they don’t use on a regular basis.
  • Craft & Sewing Supplies – I promise, you’re not going to have time to use them until you’re settled in your new place.
  • Jewelry – Keep out a few key pieces that you can wear with just about anything, and pack the rest.
  • Toiletries – Leave out the bare essentials for the entire family to use for the next two weeks (current tube of toothpaste, bottle of shampoo, etc.), and pack up the rest.
  • Knick-Knacks – Do you still have any knick-knacks out? Time to pack them up!
  • Clothes Closets – Go through all the closets and pack up anything you don’t use on a daily basis: dress clothes, accessories, fancy shoes, extra purses, etc., etc.
  • Linen Closet – Pack up everything except one set of sheets and towels per person. (You might want to leave out some blankets to serve as padding for the furniture on moving day.)
  • Kitchen – Pack up as much as you can that you do not use on a daily basis. We’re getting down to the wire here, so start simplifying your daily cooking life if you haven’t already. Forget about baking bread, roasting meat, and cultivating yogurt for now. Pack all those supplies up!
  • Office Supplies – Paper, envelopes, pens, pencils, stapler, hole puncher, etc., etc. Only leave out the absolute essentials (like a few pens or pencils).
  • Clothes – It’s time to start packing them up. Start by filling a suitcase with items you’ll need when you’re actually moving and before you’re settled in your new place. Then make sure you have enough clothes to last the next few days (consider adding some extra wash cycles in there), and then pack the rest. Leave a box open for each person in the family to pack clothes in as they come out of the wash (and as they come out of the woodwork during the move).
  • Kitchen – Break out the paper supplies and pack up every single thing. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and order takeout. You’ll survive.
  • Medicines/Remedies – Keep the essential ones handy and with you during the move. Pack the rest.
  • Electronics – If you can’t quite bear to pack it all up just yet, downsize to one or two items (i.e., use your laptop for everything – gaming, watching TV, surfing the internet, listening to music, etc., and pack up all the other fun stuff).
  • Miscellaneous – Trust me, there’s going to be a LOT of miscellaneous junk that just appears out of nowhere when you start packing. You’re going to have a lot of it,no doubt, at this point, so just pack it as you come across it.
  • Toys – Have your kids each choose one set of toys they want to keep out for the next few days, and pack the rest. Keep a bag handy to pack up the toys they chose to save on moving day.
  • Curtains/Draperies – Run these through the washer and dryer. If you don’t have blinds, some of them might need to wait until the last day for privacy’s sake, but try to do this ahead of time if you can. Don’t forget to pack up the rods and other hardware.
  • Food – Especially all the cooking/baking supplies. Anything that can be eaten as it is can stay around for another day or two, but the rest has got to be packed up. Give away frozen and refrigerated items if you are moving too far away to bring them with you in a cooler.
  • Clothes – Put the last of the clothes through the washer and dryer and pack up everything but what you’ll need for the next couple days. (Make sure you have some grungy outfits set aside for moving day!) Keep a hamper or mesh bag handy to dump in dirty clothes to wash as soon as you’ve relocated.
  • Laundry Room – Pack up everything but what you need to wash a few more loads and/or clean up the place.
  • Food – It’s time for the rest of the food to be either packed up, thrown out, or given away. Refrigerated, frozen, all of it!
  • Sheets & Blankets & Towels – First thing in the morning, start washing all your sheets and blankets and towels and pack them up as they come out of the dryer (or use them as padding for furniture and stuff).
  • Random Assorted Junk – Trust me; it’s gonna be there. Have a few bags or boxes handy and chuck stuff in them as you find it.
  • Furniture – Take apart the furniture so it can be easily moved.
  • Cleaning Supplies – Clean the house so that the new residents can move right in, and then put all the cleaning supplies in buckets or caddies for moving.
  • Clothes – Put the last of the clothes in those open boxes, then tape them shut. If you don’t have time to do another load, put the dirty clothes in the hamper or mesh bag as I mentioned earlier.
A note for moving day: keep personal items like important files, your suitcases, your purse, and anything else that you want to keep close, in your vehicle. Pack that up first so that those helping you move don’t accidentally put it in the moving truck. Also, leave a little space in your vehicle for those other random things that just don’t end up in the truck like they’re supposed to!
And that’s it! I’m sure I’ve missed something (knowing me, something major!), but this list should get you started if you – like me – are staring in dismay at all the stuff crammed into your living space.

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