I recently moved my family of 6 kids from our 2000 square foot home that we lovingly renovated from top to bottom, to a 6000 square foot cabin in the woods (but steps from a Starbucks just ten minutes north of where I was before at the north end of Toronto, Canada!)
Let me tell you- it was difficult. REALLY difficult. I knew moving was going to be difficult, but I really underestimated how physically demanding, and how emotionally demanding it would be. I think being 4 months pregnant had something to do with the emotional element, but still, the last two weeks have been quite the emotional rollercoaster.
So in an effort to help other moms lead more organized, intentional, beautiful lives (as I try to do in all my content), I bring you my top tips on how to survive a move with kids (and not lose your mind).
1. PURGE BEFORE YOU PACK
We decided fairly quickly it was time to sell our home because the timing felt impeccably right- so we de-cluttered, painted, repaired and staged fairly rapidly. As a result, I hired a moving company to pack up a lot of the extra toys, books and general stuff that wasn't essential and keep it in storage. I figured I would purge when I unpacked all my boxes.
THIS WAS A BIG MISTAKE.
When you're in your new home, you're still trying to figure out systems, storage, and logical places to put things. You might have to put in shelving or purchase furniture that gives you better organization. It is so much easier to do this if you have an accurate sense of how much stuff you are dealing with.
And honestly, it is just a hassle to have a bunch of stuff lying around that you know you don't need when you are trying to get organized in your new space.
SO PURGE FIRST!!! Caveat: the only advantage I see to purging after you move is that you might have a bunch of cardboard, garbage and other debris from unpacking, and you can hire a disposal company like Just Junk or Got Junk to come take away everything in one fell swoop. But honestly, save yourself a bit of physical energy and packing materials and purge before you move.
2. MAKE A SCHEDULE FOR PACKING
I consider myself a very strategic person. Strategy is #2 in my Strengths Finder assessment. But because I hired movers, I kind of thought that I wouldn't really have to think about strategy too much- they would do that. So I basically put off packing to the last possible moment, and again this was a big mistake.
The movers I worked with have an option where they can pack for you- but it comes with an additional expense and so I thought I could save some dollars and pack myself. This probably would have been fine, except that I simply kept putting off packing, mainly because it was an emotional ordeal for me to pack up the house I have brought all 6 of my babies home to.
What I wish I had done, was to make a really achievable, realistic schedule- maybe spread out over the course of two weeks, for example. And essentially given myself targets for packing- pack the living room by Monday, pack the storage room by Tuesday, etc. etc.
I found what happened with me was that I kept forgetting about areas- like my outdoor sheds, or the area under the stairs, or all the things on shelves behind the laundry room door. This slowed down the actual moving day quite a bit as the movers were waiting on me to finish all these random areas, and I literally ran out of boxes on my moving day (and since I had not hired the company for packing they did not bring any extra packing material!)
So set yourself up with a schedule with lots of buffer, and things will run a lot smoother on your actual move day!
3. HIRE MOVERS
I have a big family with 6 amazing kids- but that means I have 6 of everything. 6 beds, 6 sets of blankets, 6 wardrobes of clothing, etc. etc. etc. For a move my size I opted to hire professional movers instead of asking family and friends for help. There are loads of bonuses to going this route- you can purchase insurance if you choose so if anything gets damaged in the move you are covered, and of course you don't have to do the heavy lifting.
But the biggest benefit I see to hiring movers is that when it's 10pm at night, and you still have a hundred boxes to move, and you have been on your feet since the crack of dawn, the movers will stay, and have smiles on their faces. I have used the same company for clients and myself over the last 5 years or so, and I hire them back again and again because of the professional and positive attitude of the staff.
Moving is tough. You can be met with a bunch of decision fatigue REALLY QUICK! To have a team to say, "let's build the beds first, then unload the rest of the boxes" is just so helpful. Trust me, you will make so many decisions on the day of moving from where to put furniture to what to order for lunch, it is so helpful to have a set of experienced professionals who will take some of this burden off you.
And did I mention you don't have to lift heavy items AND they assemble your furniture for you at your new place, making it so much easier for you and your children to settle in to your new home that first evening.
4. PACK PERSONAL ITEMS LIKE YOU ARE GOING ON VACATION
This is another area where my strategy just flew out the window. Because I wasn't that organized with the packing up of my home, a lot of things got thrown into boxes at the last minute- and even though I labeled them appropriately, a lot of essential things got misplaced (for example: my husband's computer charger got thrown into a random box labeled "office", and it took us a good few days to rummage through all the office boxes to find it!)
So pack the way you would for a vacation for every family member, in their own small suitcase or backpack. Things to include:
– personal toiletries (makeup, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, hair brushes, etc)
– clothing for a few days (including underwear and socks! I literally had to go buy all my kids underwear and socks the day after moving because somehow they got put in a box we could not find immediately upon moving in- we eventually found all their stuff but it was after several days of hunting and unpacking!)
– personal electronics like laptops, iPads, cell phones, WITH CHARGERS
– any books you read regularly or access daily (Bible, journal, favourite novel, notebooks or folders for work, etc.)
– personal comfort items for kids like their favourite toys, blankets, etc.
– any regular items you might use in a two week period for work or personal (I YouTube weekly and of course put the charger for the camera battery in a random box yet again because it was plugged in the wall when we moved)
5. MAKE SURE ITEMS THAT GO TOGETHER STAY TOGETHER
This might not apply to everyone, but I bet you can think of a few things in your life that don't work if they don't have their essential partner. Here are some examples of things that we encountered that we really should have made sure were DUCT TAPED to each other : )
– I already mentioned my camera charger above- I should have packed that in the camera bag along with the camera (so logical!)
– the remotes for all your TVs, DVD players, etc.
– the safety magnetic guard and plug to the treadmill
– keys that open anything important. We kept the key to our safe, which houses all our passports, birth certificates, etc. in a small dish on the shelf above where we stored our safe. Probably should have duct taped that to the safe when we moved, it was a legit miracle that we found it
– cables to your essential personal electronics
6. HAVE AN UNPACKING PLAN
Similar to point number 2, have a plan for how you are going to unpack- and involve others. I ended up hiring the moving team for a second day as I really wanted to have the house in order as fast as possible. This was great, but I actually wish I had taken it a step farther and enlisted family and friends who like this sort of thing immediately after we moved in!
What I did not plan for, that I really want to share in hopes it benefits others, is just how tired we all were after we moved in. It was a long day, followed by another long day, and once the movers were gone there was still so much to do! Again, this might be the pregnant mama in me talking but the physical act of moving really took a lot out of me.
What I would recommend is you enlist positive, supportive friends and family who can help you unpack. There are people out there WHO LOVE THIS SORT OF THING (big shout outs to my friends and family who came and provided this kind of support over the last few weeks). I do not.
There is something to be said for objectivity, and someone else coming in and helping you decide what to keep, and what to get rid of. It made the process move so much faster to have someone else there to keep me accountable and just fly through boxes without as much sentimentality!
7. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED AND BE GENTLE ON YOURSELF
Let me remind you that for ten years, I have made homes look beautiful as my profession. And for a good chunk of those years I worked on HGTV television shows where we literally did it in 2 days! LITERALLY. On Property Brothers shows I would literally take a house from post construction mess, to magazine image perfection, in a matter of DAYS.
And I kind of expected I would do the same thing at my own place- but let me tell you, this was not the case.
Upon moving in and actually using the house, we experienced all kinds of unexpected things. A toilet did not work, and when the plumber came to fix it, the pipe burst all over him and gushed all over the floor.
Very unexpectedly, one of our children picked up a virus of some kind and had so much trouble breathing we went to emergency and thanks be to God after a good dose of steroids for her little lungs she was all better within a few days.
And on top of everything, my husband threw his back out and was basically immobile for a solid 2 days.
ALL OF THIS WITHIN THE FIRST WEEK OF BEING IN A NEW HOUSE.
So it meant that boxes remained in piles, and the home not set up for organization.
And I really beat myself up for it.
So the advice I would give another mom is that despite your best laid plans, things may not go exactly as you planned. Your spouse or children may not have the reactions you dreamed they would. You might be dissapointed in a few things, and wish things could go faster.
AND THIS IS ALL OK.
And everything passes, and with time and intentional planning, your home will feel peaceful, and organized, and beautiful.
Things are finally starting to feel slow, and normal around here at our #canningcabin and I cannot wait to share a full home tour with you soon. I've been having loads of fun strategizing how to decorate this space, and how to make strategic budget decisions in a rental (did I mentioned we are renting in Toronto since we are planning to buy a home in the sunny state of Flordia?! I'll save that tale for another time).
What do you think- do you have nay tips on how to make moving easier on a family? Let me know in the comments below!