Monday, September 19, 2011

The art and science of packing

What is the right size for a book box? Will that chair fit into that odd space on the moving truck? Just ask. I'll give you an answer that is 99.99 percent accurate. If I had a moving resume, it would probably exceed the requisite two pages. I have moved every couple of years, give or take, for my entire life. I have it down to an art form.

As an adult I swore to give up the nomadic existence prompted by my parents' jobs, but life happens. I haven't yet managed to stick to that goal. Now I'm moving again. We are delighted to give up our third-floor two bedroom apartment in favor of the single story, four bedroom house recently vacated by my parents in their move to Korea. The stress is showing, particularly with toddler "assistance," but we couldn't be more delighted with the goal. 

My husband and I have taken a number of small trips on our own. Even our toddler is getting into the action. He has been pushing around his bin of blocks and adding assorted items, including a shoe, cup, and spatula. (It pays to be prepared!) Now it's time to brush up on the science of packing before the movers arrive.

Packing Tips
  • Gather supplies. Invest in a good tape gun and high quality packing tape. Purchase clean, sturdy boxes. Make sure that you have enough padding such as bubble wrap and newspaper or packing paper. Consider investing in specially-designed boxes for moving fragile items like dishes. Collect labeling supplies, such as Sharpies and “Fragile” stickers or tape.
  • Pack with a plan. Start with out-of-season items. Next, pack things used infrequently. (Consider tossing or donating items that are worn out or no longer used.) Leave until last the things you'll need until moving day. If possible, pack one room at a time, labeling each box with a description of its contents and its destination (e.g., kitchen, bathroom). Be as specific as you can; it will make unpacking that much easier. Number boxes sequentially, so it will be easy to tell if one is missing. For longer moves, create an inventory to keep with your moving paperwork.
  • Pack smart. Keep the weight of your boxes reasonable. If possible, put heavy items in small boxes to make them easier to carry. Place heavier items at the bottom of boxes and stack lighter items on top. Fill boxes completely but do not fill so much that they bulge. Consider using towels as packing material. Pack similar items together. For example, do not pack a delicate knick-knack with your Dutch oven. 
  • Prepare for the first night in your new home. Pack essential items in separate bags to carry with you. For each person in the household, include a change of clothes, a towel, prescription drugs, a toothbrush, and other personal items. Include plastic utensils, paper plates, paper towels, plastic cups, toilet paper, snacks, beverages, and re-closable plastic bags. Pack a small tool kit for re-assembling items that can’t be moved whole. Make sure that you have a clean set of bedding/pillows for each bed. Consider whether you need a shower curtain. (Don’t forget the hooks or you may end up resorting to clothing hangers, like a certain family member who shall remain nameless.). Make sure the family pet doesn’t end up in a box! Do keep their food and other necessities nearby and get a pet carrier.
  • Make sure that nothing is left behind. When the movers finish loading the truck, check each room. Likewise, when they say the truck is empty, do a visual inspection of the truck bed.
I'll pack that camera for you.

I may write a bit more infrequently until we complete our move, but please don't give up on my blog or my novel. I'll still work on both as time permits, and I will be back with renewed energy after we get settled into our new home. We're planning to have that done by early to mid-October, which will be well in time for family to descend for Thanksgiving.

Now, if you'll pardon me, I need to get my toddler out of the box so that I have room for the bedding.


  1. We moved once when my mom had a color-coded system. She used yard sale stickers to designate which room a box was destined for (ex. "red" tagged boxes went in the kitchen), and numbered each box. She had a notebook that corresponded to the color of the tag and the number and that listed the complete contents of each box. It was a truly brilliant idea ... right until she lost the notebook in the move! Having no more help than "green 7" made unpacking quite challenging!

  2. Becky: I was sold on the idea (assuming I could manage to be that organized), until you go to the part about losing the notebook. Perhaps I should institute a QR-Code system. Again, that would assume that I'm that organized. Right now I feel like I can't find anything. More than half of our things are still waiting to be unearthed from the boxes piled in our dining room and garage and scattered throughout the hose.

  3. I am planning to move to a new place and was little worried how to manage all things but your post gave me great help to handle that situation.