DIY Moving

Moving is a grand adventure that comes with an emotional ball of colorful yarn that unravels along the way. Be it joy, anxiety, excitement, dread, hope, fear, or awe, you never know what the next strand will reveal about you.

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My family just moved 536 miles from Greenville, SC to Baltimore, MD. Our drive included several wrong turns, a major traffic accident that slowed down every possible route we could have taken {and tried to take}, and non-stop, sweat-breaking, ear-piercing, toddler-screaming for the last hour-and-a-half of the trip. I waded through the emotions of moving, excitement of wanting to arrive, a keen sense of separation as the distance from family grew wider and wider, anger at the delay and the screaming toddler, guilt over the anger since someone I didn’t know was in serious trouble, and anxiety over creating another accident if I didn’t watch the road as sharply as necessary.

But we finally arrived after an additional 2.5 hours to our 8.5 hour trip. Ready upon arrival were 6 men from the church and community to help us move in, most of them we had never met. At seeing my gorgeous, row-home apartment for the first time, and watching these men love on us so, all the anxiety left my heart, being washed away by the gratitude that was flooding in.

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Having moved 4 times in the last 4 years, and having always packed and moved everything ourselves {with much help from family and friends}, we’ve learned a few tricks along the way, and I thought I’d share a few tips with you.

1. Start saving any newspapers that you get a couple months in advance {depending on how often you get them and how much you need to pack}. Or ask a relative or friend if you can have theirs. They’re great for packing your fragile items {even fine China!}. It’s much cheaper than buying packing paper, and much more humorous since you get to read the funny pages as you pack! A win-win if there ever was one.

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2. Check with your local grocery stores/churches/hospitals to see if they have any cardboard boxes that they get rid of on a regular basis. Most will be more than glad to have you come pick them up, and they’re usually sturdy and aptly sized.

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3. Invest in garment boxes! This was our first move to do this, and I’m never going back to our old ways again. These boxes have a metal bar you insert just inside the flaps to hang your closet clothes on. No taking them off and putting them back on the hanger when you arrive. Genius! My husband commented that he was ready to give the person who invented those a big wet kiss. “On the forehead”, I quickly added.

4. Don’t waste time taking your clothes out of your drawers. Just leave ’em in {and cover up any unmentionable lacy items with a couple of your husbands white T-shirts if you get embarrassed by your guy friends seeing that sort of thing . . . like me}. Take the drawers out when loading the furniture and they re-insert them once they’re on the truck.

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5. Start purging your house a couple months in advance if you have the notice. I knew we would be moving in June, and we had 6 rooms in our house. So I dedicated one room/month to de-cluttering and started in January. This kept me from becoming too overwhelmed. {And don’t forget to include the attic in that purging! Are there boxes you haven’t opened the entire 2 years you’ve lived there? Chances are, you don’t need those anymore.}

6. Buy a pack of water bottles from the store just in case you can’t find the disposable cups you set aside and aren’t able to give a drink of water to all the thirsty people that help you move {I speak from experience. Blasted misplaced, red Solo cups ruined my organized image . . . as if it hadn’t been ruined already}.

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7. Say yes to people that offer to help. Seriously?! This should just go without saying, but it’s something I really struggle with. Accepting help. If someone offers to watch your kid for you while you pack, bring a meal to you, pay for something, just let them serve you. It saves a lot of tears and frazzled nerves in the end. Stop trying to be superwoman, dang it! Or at least hire a side-kick that’s over 2 feet tall and doesn’t try to eat the packing tape.

8. Don’t overestimate what you are capable of. For some reason I always think this will be the time I can stay up all hours working on last-minute details and still get up bright and early the next morning with no serious side effects. And I’m always wrong. Me and sleep deprivation don’t get along very well. Ever. Some moms can hack it, almost seem to thrive on it. {You know who you crazy women are!} But not this 9-hours-of-beauty-sleep-a-night-needing momma. Basically, know your limits, and don’t put yourself and your family through the insanity of having overworked yourself if you’re the kind prone to emotional meltdowns and weepy weariness . . . also like me.

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9. If you’re newly married, about to get married, or engaged: save the manufacturer boxes for most of your kitchen stuff. They so come in handy when you move. Just pop that stuff right back into its custom foam-fitting/plastic-wrapping/cardboard-buffering packaging and bam, you’re done. Love it. I still have many of those boxes, and I’ve been married for 4 years. Sure they take up space, but seeing as how I’ve moved 4 times, I don’t mind the hassle of storing them in the attic or basement, or the top shelf of the closet. Believe me, they’ve gotten around.

10. Plastic wrap. It’s awesome. I usually wrap our utensil organizer in it to keep our forks, knives, and spoons from falling out and getting lost. It’s great for keeping stuff from sliding around too.

11. Baby blankets, towels, sheets, and the like are also great packing materials. So keep them out and use them to wrap your artwork or act as a buffer in between furniture in the moving truck. Just give ’em a quick wash when you arrive and they’re fine. Much cheaper than renting the pads from the moving company.

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12. Shop around the different moving companies. U-haul isn’t the only option out there. Budget, Penske, and 2 Men and a Truck are good options as well, with some of them more expensive than the others. Get the quotes, and talk with their customer service reps to see what they offer and get the companies to “compete” for you. You can usually get a lower price that way.

13. Communicate with your husband/those helping you move what you want left out of the moving truck. For example, if you’ve written a card to your dad for Father’s day, set aside  a package to be given to the winner of your most recent blog giveaway, or specially framed a photo of your baby and her Nana as a parting gift, you may want those to be accessible when saying your goodbyes to family and friends. Hypothetically, of course. Anyone know where the Baltimore post office is by any chance?

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14. Let your kid watch as much TV as they please, if it helps. Get over your fear of their minds turning to goo, find a couple movies that are pre-approved, and say “here’s your special show sweetie.” You can catch up on quality time once you’ve moved. Unless of course your kid plays quietly by his or herself and understands you need to be left alone for a few hours. Then by all means, go with the latter option.

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15. Let your kid use a washable marker to “help” you label the boxes. It’s so fun for them, and they feel so included. It’s also a fun game for you trying to figure out what you wrote underneath what your kid wrote.

16. And most importantly, while you’re storing away your belongings in cardboard, pause from time-to-time to store up all those special memories in your heart.

The memory of your wee one excitedly packing her “wankies” {blankies} in the nearest box.

The memory of throwing a batch of cookies together for the last time in your little Greenville, SC home.

The memory of your siblings laughing, smiling, tearing up as you come to hug them goodbye.

The memory of your baby tackling her cousin with her own style of hug.

The memory of being prayed over by your brother-in-law as he asks God to reveal His steadfast love to you.

The memory of parents cheering you on.

The memory of friends slipping you notes, gifts, smiles, wisdom.

The memory of your tiny girl diving into a box and trying to pack herself up.

The memory of your little girl’s excitement over moving to “Honkins” {Hopkins}.

The memory of taking your final glance at a home where lives have been lived, little feet have scampered, a couple has loved, meals have been shared, bread has been burnt, fights have been had, relationships have been reconciled, dreams have been spun, laughter has been enjoyed, and songs have been sung.

It is after all, an adventure. Enjoy each step, be it faltering, hesitant, hopeful, or confident, along the way.

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Anyone making a move in the near future? I’d love to hear about your moving adventure and where you’re headed!! Let’s help the transition be easier for each other!

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4 comments

  1. Very helpful packing/moving tips!!!! Very thankful to have you guys here. Once fireworks end we can hang out!!

  2. I loved all your advice on here! so thorough! I loved the part about putting your husbands shirts over lacy unmentionables. That’s honestly good advice, because when we were moving, one of my lacy unmentionables fell out and one of the ladies from our church had to pick it up off the ground…I was SO embarassed!

    1. Haha! At least it was one of the ladies!! 😉 I too would have turned a bit pink if that happened. If it did, no one told me about it 😉 Thank you for your sweet comments!

  3. […] shadow play. Aletheia’s curiosity and understanding has grown significantly since we’ve moved. Every day she seems to discover something new, something that excites her, makes her cock her head […]

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