So, you're moving? Seems exciting but also terrifying, right? If this is the first time you have moved with kids, you're in for a very different experience than your kid-free days. All of that complaining about how hard you thought moving was will embarrass you once this move is over.
Lucky for you, I'm here to help. Having just made our first major family move (and decidedly our last!) I'm happy to share eight key things that every moving family should do. Not that I did all of these, but hindsight is 20/20, people.
Start packing NOW. Like stop reading and go pack something. I'll wait . . . Ok, so you've got one box done. Congratulations! But you have millions more, so keep going. Pack early and pack often. Have fifteen minutes to kill while on hold with your cell phone provider? Pack a box. Get home from work a little early and the sitter doesn't technically clock out for another 10 minutes? Don't play the nice guy and let her go home early, pack a box.
Hoard boxes. Ask friends and family for extra boxes, take the paper boxes from work (these are the best) and go to grocery stores daily in search of boxes. Boxes are expensive and so is bubble wrap. If you don't have any of the options I mentioned, check Craigslist and Freecycle. Packing supplies are gifts that keep on giving. Take anything you can get your hands on because you'll fill them up as soon as you get them.
Don't ask your kids to help. If your kids are five and under, save yourself the headache. It might seem like a good idea to involve them in the process, but trust me, it's not. They will argue about where their things are really going, they will tell you how they personally want to carry each toy to the new house and they will whine that their toys will be lonely while in the box by themselves. Save yourself and just don't go there. Which brings me to number four:
Get the kids out of the house. Don't just have a sitter come over to help. If you can get them out of the house, just do it. No amount of Caillou will distract them from the fact that you are putting books and toys that they have not played with for months in a box. They have an alarm in their brain that will go off from across the house. Remove them from the property. But, if you can't . . .
Boxes and bubble wrap are the coolest toys. Put aside a couple of boxes and a ball of bubble wrap and let them go at it. It will distract them long enough for you to pack at least four boxes.
Color code. Buy a stack of multi-colored Post-Its. Assign a color to each room. Yellow is kitchen, pink is family room and so on and so on. Then tape the bright colored Post-Its to each side of the box. This way when you move you can put a Post-It on each door at the new house and the movers/helpful friends and family can put the boxes in the correct room with minimal involvement from you. And you won't have to shuffle boxes from room to room.
Remember your entire space. What about your garage? Attic? A storage space? These are much harder spaces to pack than you think they will be. Don't forget about them.
Schedule your future garage sale. Where does all this stuff come from anyway? Moving made me feel like I was being secretly taped for Hoarders. Guess who is having a huge garage sale this spring?!?! (Mark your calendars, people!)
Moving is not easy. I was excited for my family's next chapter, but the actual packing and coordination of storage units and trucks and movers is enough to make you feel slightly less emotional about leaving your baby's first home. But when that realization finally does sneak up on you, those will be ugly tears as you walk around and turn off the lights for the last time, I promise you.
Hopefully my simple advice will make your move a little easier. More than anything I suggest you take a minute to appreciate the transition your family is about to experience.
Don't get too caught up in getting out of your place that you don't take a minute to make sure you enjoy your last moments of being in there. Take photos of the way your furniture is set up, the cracked front step or the crooked mailbox. You'll want to remember the worn buzzer and the front door knob, because you'll miss them more than you realize.
And when the boxes are packed and the truck has pulled away, it's just an open space that doesn't seem quite the same.
Lisa Hanneman is a mother of three, which makes her an expert on everything and nothing. She writes about her family’s daily nonsense and overbooked life at Hannemaniacs.
See more of Lisa's stories here.