Summer is traditionally a time when many of us move and two years ago year our family joined in the fun and games. And I rediscovered what a challenge it can be. Because most of us don’t stay in one place for decades anymore, we struggle to find that deep sense of home that comes with living somewhere your whole life. If we’re not careful, our things can start to give us the sense of home instead, and so we hold onto them fiercely. All well and good until it’s time to move, and we’re faced with a houseful of things to put into and take out of boxes!
“It must be so easy for you to move, you’re a professional organizer!”
I can’t tell you how many times I heard that, and my smile grew more forced each time I heard it until finally I came out and said it: moving is hard, no matter how organized you are, no matter whether you do this for a living, no matter what!
Sure, I may have picked up a few tips over the years (and 17 moves) but at the end of the day, when you move, there are mountains of things in boxes and it’s up to you to get them in there and get them out.
As I packed 84 small boxes full of heavy books, and both blessed and cursed my family for our love of reading, I began to think we might have an easier time decluttering if we started calling things what they really are.
In the family room, we’d have “Board games no one plays” and “Videos no one watches.”
In the kitchen we’d recognize “Many knives I never sharpen or use,” and “A bunch of expensive expired food I got from the health store five years ago and don’t know what to do with.”
And in the bedroom, “Clothes I’ll never fit into”, “Clothes I didn’t like even when I did fit into them,” and “Clothes no one will ever wear again.”
Even if you’re not moving soon, it might help to start mentally labeling things as you come across them if you don’t know where they go. “Ah yes, that book I got in college meaning to read and haven’t in 35 years,” “Here are those light bulbs I never use,” “There it is, the vase that’s too big for our table.”
If you’re not ready for honest labeling, it’s still a good idea to write something helpful on your boxes. After all, a basement full of boxes marked “miscellaneous” can be discouraging. At a minimum, I suggest writing the room you want the items to go to. And I strongly advise you take the time to write “kitchen” on all four sides of the box, not just the top. Learned that one the hard way. Some people like to get more specific with their labels, but I found during this move that “books” was enough – writing “nonfiction: birds” umpteen times (my son’s a Biology major), seemed like a good idea but in the end, we didn’t need that level of box labeling to organize the books once we unpacked.
A Useful Tip
Movers earn every penny, but those pennies do add up. Stack all the boxes of the same size together in the front of your garage so the moving crew can most efficiently load them onto their moving truck.
Another useful tip
Buy the brown packing tape. Here’s an example. I used the clear shipping tape you get from Target or Walmart, and not only was it pricey but it seemed to lack courage in the stickiness department. Maybe it was the heat of the garage, but the tape and the boxes seemed destined not to stick together for more than five minutes. The moving crew told me about brown packing tape and although I plan never to move ever again, I thought you might like to know. (I don’t do affiliate marketing, so if I recommend something it’s just because I like it, I never make any money off a recommendation.)
If your boxes have seen better days, splurge on new ones if you possibly can. Sturdy boxes all the same size make all the difference between a stressful move and a moderately less stressful move.
Moving is a big deal. It’s stressful, overwhelming, and exhausting. Resist the temptation to try to do it perfectly. If you have a move coming up in your future (and almost all of us do at some point), remember that decluttering to a deadline is more stressful than establishing the habit when it’s not such a big deal. Consider getting the Send it away Saturday habit now while the pressure’s off.
Dreading an upcoming move? Contact Joyful Surroundings LLC for compassionate, creative, and totally nonjudgmental decluttering & organizing services.