I'm so NOT moving. But my friend is, and she's brought back the countless (ok, there's 8 but countless is more dramatic) times I've moved. In part 1 I talked about moving tips, and part 2 was about general packing tips, materials, and what not to pack. Here, the last of the how to move posts, I'll talk about how I actually go about packing. I developed quite a method and at least now I feel like I know what I'm doing when we do move. Hopefully, some of my ideas will be helpful to others in the same boat.
If you don't have the luxury of time then get down to business! Go room to room and pack it all in one fell swoop. Scroll down to "the week before" and "the first the last and the ugly" but you can ignore the first couple phases of packing if you like.
First: When I first know that we're moving, I pack up all things in storage and all off-season things. This includes seasonal decorations, clothes that don't fit the kids yet, extra household items like the toothpaste and deodorant you stocked up on, and maternity clothes. Even if some of this storage stuff is already packed, you may want to repack. Sitting in the top shelf of a closet is different than riding in a stack of boxes and being loaded and unloaded.
Second: Next, pack up all your decorations. You might need to do this to stage your house for selling anyway, but pack up all your art, pictures, nick nacks, and such. When you get your decorations done, (especially the family photos) if you are like me, you may need to sit down and eat some chocolate and tell yourself it's ok. Your home will start to not look like your home so much. Think of unpacking in your new awesome place. The upside of home not looking so much like a home anymore is that you will begin to see everything with new eyes. Open up each closet, cabinet, and drawer in its turn and assess everything to see what you can live without. You will be surprised how little you need. Pack everything you don't regularly use. Pack books and anything else you can think of. Look at kitchen stuff. You probably won't need cake and muffin tins and platters. Pack all but one cookie sheet. You hopefully won't need seasonal stuff like gravy boats, canning equipment, crock pots etc. This stage will keep you busy for a while and you should be able to get the bulk of your packing done! Pat yourself on the back when each box is done. It's another you won't have to pack later. I like to brag on us about how many boxes we get packed on each good day.
When you've packed everything else non-essential, it's a good time to start on the kids' rooms. I save these until the last (before basic necessities) to delay the effect of major change on their space as long as possible. It also gives them all their toys to play with and a space to play while the bulk of the packing is done.
The week before: About one week to a few days before the big move, do all the laundry so everything is clean then plan what clothes you will all wear for the next week or so. Pack them up in a suitcase. Shoes, a sweater, everything. Now pack up all the clothes you won't use for that week into boxes or bags and mark them so you know to open them soon on the other side. If your washer and dryer are going into the moving truck you'll want to wash what you've got dirty of them right before you load up the washer and dryer. Otherwise you might have to go to the laundry mat once right before you leave. Then you'll have a few day's to a week's worth of clean clothes for the trip and the other side.
Also, make meal plan for the week. Hopefully you've been using up all your pantry and freezer foods but check what you have left and meal plan around that. Make it simple food that doesn't take a lot of pots and pans and tools and ingredients and time to make. Keep track of what pots and tools you'll need to prepare the food and pack everything else. You should be able to consolidate to using just a few cabinets and drawers and you can pack up all the others. Consider switching to paper plates and plastic cups and utensils for the last few days. When you do pack up your dishes, pad them with clean kitchen towels or new packing paper. This will keep them clean and you won't have to wash them all as you unpack at the next house. Keep a shopping list of foods and household stuff you need to buy on arrival at the other side. Don't lose the list in the madness and chaos!
The First and the Last and the Ugly: On the last day or two you may not have too much packing left to do if you've done well before. Everything you do pack at this stage should be the very most important basic items. All these "last and first things" should be stacked in the same area and hopefully they will go on the moving truck last so that you will unload them first on the other side. If you are driving and moving across the country these are the boxes and things that you may want to fit into your car if you can. Your survival list for last and first items includes: Toilet paper, paper towel/rags, cleaning supplies, mop, broom, hand soap, toilet bowl brush, dish soap, shelf liner, light bulbs, towels, first aid kit, snacks, paper plates, and water bottles. All your toiletries should go in your suitcase. Like toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, and soap. I strip the beds first thing in the morning/after the last nap in the old place and like to put these linens and the shower curtain into empty laundry baskets with cleaning supplies and stuff to stock the new bathroom. All your dirty clothes can be in a labeled trash bag. If you're driving for a long time consider if you have space in the car for your cooler and pack it with food for the trip. You'll be using up what you would have been throwing out anyway and saving on fast food and eating more healthily on the go. Don't forget to pack medications you use, cell phone and laptop chargers, toiletries, and some cash in your suitcase...
Arrival: When you get there, clean the bathrooms and stock them with toilet paper and hand soap and shower stuff. After that, wipe down kitchen cabinet shelves and counters and unpack the kitchen. I like to have a general plan in my head of what will go where in the kitchen. It's much better than having to do a major re-organization just to make it functional. Next I worry about sleeping places. When the beds come in, get them made and after all the boxes are unloaded into the house make sure there's a path to the beds. Call the nearest pizza place and order lots if you have extra helpers.
Pizza is a must on moving day. At least at each of our moves. It just makes it better. Bless you as you go through your change. Hang in there and enjoy the excitement and new experiences. Thanks for listening to my 2 cents. I hope it was helpful!