Moving 101 — Packing and staying organized

Yesterday I shared with you how I get started when I know we’re going to move. Once I get ready to pack I make sure I have my list of supplies. Here’s my list:

  • Boxes or plastic bins. Several years ago during a move, we decided to invest in plastic rubbermaid type bins. They stack uniformly, last longer than cardboard boxes and will hold up in storage a bit better. Most of our things go in these plastic bins.
  • Index cards, letter dividers and a box to put them in. I prefer the 3×5 ruled ones. You’ll be using these a bunch so you want a way to keep them organized. You can usually find these items in the office supply section of your local store.
  • Packing tape. I’ve found packing tape with a dispenser works better than duct tape.
  • Markers — colored markers like the kids use for school. And a black sharpie
  • Pencils

My index card box set up looks something like this

I try to pack items by room, either by the room they’re in now or by the room they’re going to be when we move. This last moved involved me packing before we had a house to go in to, so I packed things according to the room they were in or the one I *thought* they were going to go in when we got there. Some things, like “homeschool supplies” are assigned a category rather than room.  I assign a color and shape to each room or category. For example, books are pink circles, storage items are red circles, garage items are red squares etc. Be sure to make a master list of your colors and categories.

Next I start making cards for labeling. Each box will get two index cards. One with a large colored shape and number for the bin itself and one with a smaller corresponding shape and number in the upper left hand corner for my index card box. I let the boys help make my labels. It’s a great learning activity for shapes, colors, writing numbers and counting. I usually start by  making 10 or so of each color/shape. This last time we moved, I pre-wrote the numbers in pencil and let my 5 year old trace the numbers in black sharpie. A sharpie works better than a regular black marker because it bleeds less.
Then I pack my bin. I write everything I put in the bin on the index card with the smaller shape. Sometimes I’m really specific, like with my kitchen or crafting items. Other times I’m not as specific. With books I don’t write every title down rather I write the shelf the books came from or whom the books belong to (ie Dad’s commentaries or children’s books for book time). Remember, each bin gets two cards. The card with the bigger shape goes on the bin as the label and the smaller one goes in the index card box. I assigned a letter to each category as well. B was for books, E was for boys only because E was the next available letter in my card box.
Index cards for file box

Every bin, box, plastic storage box gets a colored label and corresponding index card for the box. I know that it seems like a lot of work to just pack a box, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been really thankful I packed our things this way. If I know my kitchen items are purple circles and filed behind K. I can look on my index card and tell that my rolling pin is in purple circle 5 and I can send someone to go find it. When we moved a couple times ago, I had the luxury of being able to pack months in advance. I consequently packed a few things that I ended up needing before we moved. It was so nice to be able to pinpoint the exact bin containing my item and send someone to get it rather than having to unpack every kitchen box or struggle trying to remember what other stuff was in the box.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a little space in the first room you pack or even in your garage, you can start moving packed, labeled boxes to the free space to reduce clutter and the feeling of walking over and around boxes all the time. This was hugely helpful when we left Colorado. I had one wall of our garage stacked with bins and when we had loading help for the truck, they could just grab the bins and load the truck rather than walking in and out of the house repeatedly.
It takes a little more work on the front end of moving, but it is oh so helpful when it comes time to unpack or search for an already boxed item. Tomorrow I’ll share with how I unpack and organize efforts when we get to our new home.

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