How To Prepare For a Successful Move

How many times have you moved to a new home? Not counting local moves or college, I have made nine major moves {to a different state or, in one case, country} in my adult life. While we don’t yet know exactly when or where, a tenth is imminent. 

Being prepared in advance is critical for a successful move. Even if you utilize a moving company, there are so many ways you can make the overall experience more organized and less stressful. Some can be started weeks, even months in advance; others you will be need to take care of closer to your move date. 

This post will address all the behind the scenes work you need to complete to prepare for a successful move and smooth sailing on moving day.

Three yellow-beige decorative boxes stacked on top of each other.

Declutter

Even if you have not been in your current house/apartment for very long {as a military family, we have been averaging about two-and-a-half years} you have undoubtedly accumulated a lot of stuff since you moved in. Now is the time to evaluate everything critically and let go of what you can.

Start small if you must: Kids outgrow clothes and toys, random things collect in your closet, and books hang around collecting dust. Just walking around the house for a few minutes could probably nudge you to consider ditching at least ten things. 

One advantage for us is that we move so frequently it is easy to remember if we used a particular thing while we lived in our current house. This gives us a better sense of whether or not we should hang on to a specific item. Looking at something that is still boxed up with moving company stickers on it, and realizing you have not opened it and did not miss it makes it easier to let go. 

Don’t forget big stuff, too, like furniture. Just because it has always been there does not mean it is useful or necessary. Consider the layout of your new home, and if you would prefer to use that space for other things.

Donate

Once you have made a good sweep of the entire house, remove anything you do not intend to keep as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Try not to postpone or overthink this part. In all likelihood you will not change your mind and you will not have regrets. We have decluttered our home dozens of times over the years, and I can count on one hand the number of specific items that invoked even a twinge of maybe I should have kept that

Personally we have made several donations to the Vietnam Veterans of America. In many cities they will come directly to your home to pick up your donations, as long as individual items can be handled by one person {i.e., no large furniture or appliances}. 

Organize

Now that you have pared down a bit, what remains needs to be organized in a way that makes sense. I like to start by cleaning out closets, cabinets, and drawers. 

While your bedroom closet is probably the easiest place to start, you really have to go room by room and work your way through the entire house. Don’t forget the kitchen cabinets, pantry, coat closet, desk, linen closet, and anywhere else you have stuff behind a door or drawer.

You may have already started this as part of the finding-things-to-donate process. If not, I’ve found the best way to accomplish this successfully is to take everything out {and I mean everything}, clean as necessary, and put only the things that truly belong there back in.

Likely as you do this you will find more to donate, but even if you don’t just seeing how neat and tidy everything looks will put a smile on your face. 

In addition to donation items you missed the first go-around, you will also probably find several things that belong in another part of the house. Move them to their correct home {or find them a new one}.

Once you have dealt with all these “hidden” areas—or simultaneously while going room-to-room if that works better for you—you will also need to deal with things “out in the open”—like bookshelves and lamps and knick-knacks and countertops. Again, the important thing here is that every item has an appropriate home. As a general rule, if you pick something up and realize it is in the wrong spot, move it right then without setting it back down.

Another tip: Put anything small that you want to keep together {e.g., nail polishes, hair accessories, fridge magnets,} into Ziploc bags so they don’t get tossed around or lost. You can even take it a step further and box up small, like items in advance, such as extra toiletries or your junk drawer. {You know you have one.}

Clean

Once you have decluttered, donated, and organized, now it is time to clean. 

You want to move a clean, organized house. You may think who cares it’s all going in boxes and I’m just going to have to re-organize it on the other side anyway, but trust me when I say it will make your life 100 times easier when you start unpacking.

As you declutter and organize, you should also be wiping down cabinets and shelves and bookshelves. Vacuum the couch cushions. Dust everything before it gets wrapped up. Send kitchen chairs free of crumbs, wipe down furniture, take big toys outside and hose them off. {Don’t forget patio furniture while you’re at it.} 

You will probably still want to do a thorough clean of the closets, windows, floors, etc. after all of your belongings are out of the way, but this will save you valuable time later.

Consumables

I like to try to finish as many open consumables {e.g., personal care products and household cleaners} as possible beforehand. Some things simply shouldn’t be packed {e.g., any cleaning supplies that could be potentially flammable} while others would just be a pain if they oozed over whatever they are packed with {e.g., an open shampoo or conditioner bottle}. To play it safe, we like to use up as much as we can so there is simply less to deal with.

You will also of course want to use up as many non-perishable food items as possible. While technically it is not a big deal to move cereal boxes or cans of soup, do you really want to waste time packing and unpacking that kind of stuff? {I do usually pack less-frequently purchased items like spices even if they are open, as long as the dates are still good.} 

While completing this step, you will want to take a closer look at the medicine cabinet {if you haven’t already}. Do not move expired or unwanted meds. {If you need guidance on how to dispose of them properly, check out these guidelines from the FDA.}

This would also be a good time to verify what medications and first aid supplies you intend to travel with and put those aside. If you need a refill or any over-the-counter meds, do it now while you’re thinking about it.

Transition

This will look different depending on how many days you will be spend in a partially packed house and/or living out of a suitcase and/or traveling to your new home. 

We usually pack our suitcases similarly to how we pack for most vacations, but instead of one outfit per person per day, we typically go with four per person max. Yes, we may need to do laundry multiple times, and yes, we might be tired of the clothes in the suitcase by the time our household goods arrive at our destination. But, four changes of clothes times five people is more than enough to worry about.

Make sure to consider weather {moving from warm to cool? cool to warm?}, activities you might do while in transit {e.g., swimsuits for a hotel pool}, and entertainment for yourself and the kids {books, Kindles, small toys, art supplies).

Movers

All of our recent moves have involved a moving company coming to our home and packing everything and loading it on the truck, so if you are executing a completely DIY move some of this section might not apply. 

First and foremost, if you don’t want it packed, get it out of sight.

Our experience has been that movers will pack every nonliving thing that is not nailed down. I cannot even count the number of people I know who have found trash or dirty dishes neatly packed with their household goods upon arriving at their destination. 

Prepare for a successful move for your pet as well. If you have a dog or other animal that needs more space and will have to be let out you may want to find a sitter for the day or board him or her. Other pets {like our kitty} can simply be put in a small room with food, water, and litter {bathroom if you have more than one, or the laundry room} for the day. You will need to make sure anything in that room that needs to be packed is outside of the door and you clearly mark the door as not to be opened.

You can also put your suitcases and anything else you don’t want packed right away in the “pet” room if you have one—or alternatively, in the trunk of your car. If there is something you want/need to leave out all day {e.g., cell phone} it’s best to have it on your person so it’s doesn’t accidentally end up in a box. Make sure the trash and recycling are taken out and all receptacles in the house are clean and empty.

Here’s a trick for “hiding” items you don’t want packed: Put them in the refrigerator, the stove, or the microwave. Seriously, they may try to pack last night’s lasagna dish from the sink, but they will not open any of these. Food from the pantry you still plan to use up, the coffee pot, dishes and utensils for a night or two, laundry detergent . . . whatever you might still need in the short-term until you walk out the door can be easily hidden in one of these spots.

You may want to also park your car on the street or at a neighbors. Make sure it’s far enough away that it’s not blocking access in/out of the driveway, garage, front door—wherever folks are going to be moving about.

Perspective

Most important with any major event like this is to maintain perspective. In all likelihood, the actual “move” itself will be one day, or perhaps a few days tops. Everything will probably be fine, and like most of life, thinking about it will be worse than actually doing it.

If you follow these steps for how to prepare for a successful move, you will be as ready as you can be. Know that when you arrive at your destination, you will have done everything you can to make this next life transition as painless as possible.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you enjoyed this post, I would love to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

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How To Clean Out a Closet

How often do you clean out your clothes closet? In the past few years I have made this a frequent occurrence—about every six months or so {usually spring and fall}.

You would think doing this with such regularity means it gets easier each time and I only have things I adore and wear all the time and absolutely must keep. 

You would be wrong.

I am continually amazed at what I find I truly do not need {or want, or use} each time I clean out. Of course this is also true when the Agents and I go through their clothes, although with them it is usually because they simply refuse to stop growing. 

Even if the thought of this task seems overwhelming, the following advice will make the experience efficient and painless.

Black and white photo of empty hangers on hooks.

The Basic Process

  • Take everything out. This is a critical step. It all has to leave the closet, even stuff you “know” you are keeping. Trust me on this one.
  • Figure out the best home for everything. Are you going to fold sweaters or hang them? Will pajamas live in a drawer or on a shelf? How much space do you need for small items like socks?
  • When in doubt, try it on. Yes, it takes longer and it’s a pain. Do it anyway.
  • Group like clothes together and only put back what you really want to keep. Be brutal if you must.

What Has To Go

  • Anything with an obvious stain or tear that is beyond simple repair, because nobody’s got time for that.
  • Clothes that had been demoted to this must go under something because it can no longer be worn by itself {usually because of—you guessed it—a stain or tear}.
  • Anything you haven’t worn even once since the last clean out for that season. A few exceptions slip in here {e.g., formal dresses and outerwear}.
  • Clothes you simply do not like for whatever reason. {Confession: I love a good sale, but sometimes I buy something I “couldn’t pass up” and then realize it wasn’t a smart fashion move.}
  • What doesn’t fit. Yes, seriously. Don’t keep too tight clothes in the hopes that someday they won’t be. {This one was hard at first, but honestly, if I lost ten pounds I would totally splurge and buy a new pair of pants—and you probably would, too. Dress the current, real you—not the future, potentially smaller you.}

Some Helpful Tips

  • Pretend you are packing for a two-week trip. What goes, what stays, and what wouldn’t you even consider? Being forced to pick favorites is eye-opening. {I have packed for many extended trips, and can attest that this definitely works.}
  • Look at each piece and imagine what you would wear it with. You should have at least a few options for everything that stays.
  • Start a wish list of specific pieces you might want to add to the rotation or replace. This might be an “extra” of something you wear almost daily, or a new version of a staple that is starting to look worn.

Warning: Whatever you do, do not go shopping based on what you think you need. Always go through the whole clean-out process first or I promise you will have regret.

When you admire your beautifully pared down closet, it will be hard to believe you will be repeating the process in a few short months. Yet you will, and it will be worth it to know in the end you will only have pieces you love and actually wear.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you enjoyed this post, I would love to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

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Digital Decluttering: 3 Questions To Get You Started

I enjoying living in a decluttered and organized space, and this includes my digital life as well. 

Recently I decided to re-set my laptop to factory settings, essentially clearing all of my personal information and then adding back in only what I deemed absolutely necessary. 

At first I thought I needed a newer, faster, spiffier computer. It turned out I simply had to let go of what bogged me down and free up space for what could move me forward.

Notebook and pen sit near an open laptop computer with a cup of coffee nearby.

Do I Really Need All These Files and Photos?

I realized I held on to plenty of electronic “stuff” for years that is simply not that important, and so I did not even bother backing up a lot of it. I thought of it like this: If I only had one paper copy of this, and I somehow accidentally shredded it, how devastated would I be? The answer in almost every case turned out to be “not at all.”

Of course I did want to save a few items {iCloud came in handy here}, but I purposely did not move others—knowing they would be gone forever—and I felt confident I would not miss them. With the clutter out of the way, I could more easily see what I needed to do to keep my digital life from becoming overwhelmed again.

I hesitated the most with photos. I think those of us who grew up in the age before digital cameras and ubiquitous phone cameras still have a hard time thinking of pictures as disposable commodities. But honestly, I share all of my favorites on social media, and have several photo albums of prints from our travels that grace our shelves. I also upload copies to Amazon photos for storage. I have no reason for the excess to be saved on my laptop for all eternity. 

One loss did disappoint me a little. After I re-installed the operating system, I attempted to download Evernote again and discovered the newest version is not compatible. I had been using Evernote to organize my blog notes and drafts, and I really liked the set-up. But, I made the switch over to a different application—Notes—and it is working out just fine after a brief learning curve.

How Social Do I Have Time To Be?

Next I moved on to dealing with my social media accounts. I currently maintain two Facebook pages {one personal and one business page for the blog }, plus Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest

Here is the main problem I am having: In an effort to be a supportive blogger—as well as to open marketing avenues for my own writing—I seem to have bitten off more than I can chew. That is, I sort of haphazardly “liked” and “followed” a bunch of resource pages, tech support pages, and fellow bloggers, and I cannot realistically keep up with them. 

So now I am taking on the task of sorting through what I follow and paring it down to a reasonable amount that will actually be beneficial to my writing and that I can engage with actively. All the motivational  pages in the world are not going to benefit me if I have no time to digest them. I also want to have the time and energy to give honest support to fellow writers I love following, not just clicks for clicks’ sake. It is proving to be an intense process.

Why Do I Have So Many E-Mails?

Truth: I absolutely cannot stand having unread e-mails. Even if I know it is something I am likely to immediately delete, I will still click on it because I need to get rid of that red notification dot. 

Generally I only leave messages sitting in my inbox if I still have an uncompleted task associated with them—notice of a blog comment I have not responded to yet, confirmation of an Amazon order that has not arrived, a reminder that our library books are due soon and I should renew them.

Every time an e-mail comes through that I am not 100% sure about, I open it and then scroll to the bottom and unsubscribe. I do not need to be on 99% of the e-mail lists I signed up for, and neither do you. Keep a few newsletters and blogs and affirmations if you really enjoy reading them, but most could go and you would never miss them.

This will, off course, be a work in progress. Just as you cannot clean out your closet or declutter your kitchen once and be done with it, keeping your digital decluttering under control will involve active decisions each time new things find their way in. 

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How Do You Clean a House?

When I first lived alone {not until my late twenties} my tiny apartment usually looked rather frightful. I hated to clean and had way too much stuff. I seriously had no idea how maintain a living space.

Over the years my dedication to keeping a tidy space {and my standards for what that means} have evolved. I certainly didn’t put forth much effort when the Agents were tiny. {The phrase survival mode got tossed around a lot.} Now they have become more self-sufficient, however, and I can make housework more of a priority. I find that I truly enjoy a neat, decluttered home. It sparks joy.

Stack of three colorful sponges sit to the left of a yellow spray bottle.

Over the years I’ve had many schedules: 

  • everything all at once
  • one day each for upstairs and downstairs
  • by room type {kitchen Monday, bathrooms Tuesday}
  • by task type {dusting Wednesday, moping Saturday} 
  • literally nothing until I’m disgusted, then everything all at once

Lately though I have settled into a pattern where I do the “invisible” one day, and the more conspicuous the next. 

For example, one day I just concentrate on things like putting clutter back in its rightful home, finishing laundry, and doing dishes. I also address areas you don’t really notice—like the fridge shelves or the inside of the microwave. And wash sheets/towels that will just get put right back where they came from. Basics that need to be done but are not super obvious at first glance.

Then the next day I make the house shiny and smell lemony or whatnot. This second day would include bathrooms, dusting, wiping down the kitchen, and mopping. All made easier because of the previous day’s success. 

Do you have a plan for when/how you clean your house? How has it changed over time?

Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you enjoyed this post, I would love to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

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