Moving can be a very stressful time in life. Along with all the hassle of changing addresses, arranging help and getting utilities lined up, there is all the stuff in the house.
The easiest thing to do is get rid of all non-essentials before you have to start packing.
No one wants to move boxes that have been sitting fully packed from the last move, it’s too discouraging!
And if you wait for the last minute, then all the random things end up in boxes and garbage bags to be trucked over to the new place. It’s not a pretty picture: opening the “oh what’s in here?” box only to find loose change, dirty dishes, paperwork you needed last week and the shoes that disappeared during the move.
Yes, I’ve been there.
Set aside time each day to declutter and pack 3 – 4 boxes. Have a give-away box and trash bag with you. Be sure to give yourself enough time to pack the boxes and get everything cleaned up and moved out. It’s best to take one small area at a time so a job isn’t left half done and begin to feel overwhelming. Pack up everything that is non-essential to daily life. You can use a very minimal amount of kitchen items for a month and the kitchen will be easier to keep clean and maintain that sense of calm that we long for when we are facing big changes.
How to approach decluttering before a move
First off, determine what categories of your things you won’t need to have access to until after you are in your new house:
- Serving/Entertaining items in the kitchen
- Canning/food preserving supplies
- Camping/outdoor gear
- Toy sets
- Hobby supplies
- Holiday items
It’s easiest if you list them out, so you have a game plan to follow.
Set up 2 boxes and a trash in front of you:
- Packing box
- Donate box
Work on one category until it is completely sorted and packed.
Look carefully at the items in front of you. Pull out just the ones that you know you absolutely want to see them in your new home. These are things that you use regularly or love.
After you’ve pulled out only the ones you determine worthy of the effort of moving with you.
And it is a lot of effort! Packing, labeling, carrying, unpacking, finding a place for, etc. Don’t put all that effort out for just any old thing: if it’s not worth that effort, it’s time to let it go.
Look at what is left. Determine the best way to let it go: donate it or trash it.
How to organize boxes as you pack
Fine a place in your home to stack up packed boxes. Each time you get one packed, labled and taped up, move it over to the stack. This will keep your work space clear and easy to move around in.
When labeling your boxes, have the room it belongs in big letters or circled so it’s very clear for anyone who is helping you move into the new house. List the basics of what is inside the box, no need to be super specific, but knowing what category of items is inside the box is very helpful:
Don’t have a garage sale
Just be done with clutter and don’t keep things around for a garage sale. Every now and then, a garage sale may be worth it, if, for instance, you are following the Dave Ramsey/Financial Peace University program and rocking the debt snowball. But other than that, garage sales are not worth your time and energy. According to NPR (National Public Radio), the amount of time spent having a garage sale (cleaning, organizing, pricing, selling and then donating excess) earns one less than minimum wage. If you have a couple large items, feel free to try Craigslist in a “priced to sell/ cash only” deal so remove the item ASAP. But otherwise, use your free time for something more enjoyable and donate all your excess immediately.
Let go of sentimental items that bring you down
Often in our storage areas, we hide away sentimental items. But I would like to challenge you on this. If the item truly is a treasure, why do you not treasure it by enjoying it every day and displaying it in your home? Is it really that special, stuffed up in the attic, in a box, where you don’t think about it? Getting rid of an item, does not get rid of the memory or the person with whom the item was once connected. If needed, take a photo of it, journal about your memories of the item, and then bless someone else with it, by donating it. Please do not keep items that bring pain. If the person who gave it to you caused you pain, that pain comes out with each thought of the item. Release it. Free yourself. These sentimental items are the most challenging to let go, but be honest with yourself: Does it get used? Does it make you smile? Is hanging on it helping you? Is hanging on to it helping anyone else?
Use it as an opportunity to live without excess toys
If your child is over 2 years old, have them participate. Make it a game/ experiment. Have them pick out a 5 – 10 toys to keep out and play with, or a small amount of a set (we want it to fit in a shoe-box size container) and pack the rest away. See what you all think about limiting toys to a small amount. Tell them it’s the game of minimalism and get their opinion after the move is complete. You may be pleasantly surprised at how content they are with so little.
Pretend your living out of your suitcase
Pick out enough clothes to last 1 – 2 weeks and pack up the rest. Imagine packing for a 2 week trip. Once you have those items, set them aside and declutter as you pack up the rest of your wardrobe. This is a perfect opportunity to experience what a simple capsule wardrobe would be like, plus, it will be much easier to keep up on the laundry and keep your room neat and clean. 2 weeks of clothes should very easily fit into your dresser, giving your room a motel-like simplicity.
Take time out to recharge
Decluttering and packing is emotionally, mentally and physically exhausting. Avoid spending more than 3 hours at a time working at this. Reward yourself when you get a group of boxes packed or finished packing a certain room. Sit down to read a book, have a cup of tea or chat with a friend. Knowing you have a reward waiting for you at the end, gives extra motivation for getting the job done.
Keep cleaning supplies handy
Leave cleaning supplies as the last thing to pack, as you will need to use them to clean the house, unless you are hiring a cleaning service (which, if the move is creating a lot of stress in your life, a cleaning service is a worthwhile investment.
Keep up on your maintenance routines
Be sure to do the dishes in the morning and evening, tidy the counters and wipe down the stove and counter tops. Keeping up with the daily chores keeps the home in a manageable state, which is extremely important while you pack.
Do you have any good packing or moving hacks? Please share in the comments!