2015 was a year of changes for me: Our family of three welcomed twins, and four months later, we finished building our dream house. Which meant we were going to have to move.
As a wife, mother, and small-business owner, I already wear a lot of hats, so adding "moving coordinator" to my collection wasn't something I was eager to do. There are tons of logistics to think about before and after moving day. But as an organization expert, I've learned a few things about how to sail through a move and make your new place feel like home in no time.
Start prepping early to avoid scrambling later
Settling into your new house actually begins at your old one. Think about all the things that make your current house run smoothly each day, and check these off your list so you're not struggling to function after the move.
- Schedule disconnect and reconnect dates for all of your utilities (electricity, water, internet/cable)
- Nail down your new trash/recycling pickup situation
- Make copies of your new house keys
- Set up a mail forward with the post office
- Make a list of all the places where you'll need to change your address (credit cards, online accounts, etc.) so you have a quick reference point postmove
Make a moving day plan
There's always a ton going on when the big day comes: people rushing, boxes flying, little ones to keep an eye on. Take some of the guesswork out by making an hour-by-hour breakdown of who's doing what -- it's almost like assigning work shifts. And because it's life, not everything will go according to plan. That's OK! With so many logistics to keep track of, just having a road map will keep you on target and breathing a little easier.
Clearly label your moving boxes
Include the contents and -- the clincher -- the room they should go in. That is, "kitchen, dishes" or "master bedroom, clothes" and so on. That small bit of extra effort will have a big payoff when you're moving and later unpacking. You (or your movers) will know where to put these boxes in your new home, which means you won't have to haul them around again later on. If you have multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, make sure it's clear which boxes go where by including the floor (first, second, etc.) and any other info that will help you and your movers tell them apart.
Pack a bag of essentials for each family member
There are few things worse than being totally exhausted from moving all day and then wading through a sea of boxes to find your little guy's stuffed monkey he can't sleep without. (Trust me on this.) Make sure each family member has clothes and toiletries to get through the first few days postmove. Remember favorite toys, medications, snacks, etc., and make sure these bags are easy to grab.
Know your priorities
You have a lot to worry about on moving day, so it really helps to know what to tackle first, next, and later. Here's a game plan that worked wonders for me:
- Get the furniture in position first. Do this before unpacking a single box. Once you have the biggest pieces of your house in place, your family can start living in those rooms. Next, it's time to unpack. Start with the spaces that'll help you get into your groove more quickly.
- Set up the kitchen. Seriously. It's the most used room in the house, and it'll keep everyone sane while you finish the rest. Plus it's one of the more difficult rooms to unpack (hello, boxes of newspaper-wrapped glasses), so getting it out of the way will help you breathe a little easier.
- Next, set up the kids' rooms. Little ones thrive on routine, so give them a sense of home by tackling their rooms before yours. I know my 5-year-old felt a lot better sleeping on his superhero sheets than crummy plain ones.
- Then move on to the rest! Throw on an apron (yep, an apron: The pockets are great for keeping box cutters, nails, packing tape, and cellphone nearby), and tackle one room at a time. Take a couple of trash bags with you, and sort donations and throwaway items so your new home is free of clutter.
Relax into a new normal
Moving comes with a whole lot of changes, but it all depends on how you see them: Treat them like hassles or headaches, and that's what they'll be. Treat them like an adventure, and it will seem a whole lot more exciting. As you settle into your new home, look for opportunities to make the new seem fun. And deal with the following challenges:
- Dining room furniture hasn't arrived yet? Have a pizza picnic on the floor. Your family will love the chance to slow down, reconnect, and laugh a bit about the chaos around you (my family still does every Friday night!).
- If the beds aren't ready yet, sleep in sleeping bags. The kids will think it's like camping indoors.
- New commute to work? Give yourself extra time, and try a couple of different routes over the next few days, and see which one's the fastest. Finding all the shortcuts will make you feel like a native really soon.