1. Procure boxes early, and get more than you think you’ll need. Craigslist and Freecycle are wonderful things. I started searching for boxes a month before the move so we wouldn’t have to pay for boxes out of desperation. You have to respond quickly, because others are similarly scrambling for boxes or eager to have them out of their new homes, but you should never have to pay for moving materials.
2. Know when and how to ask for help. We learned the hard way who to ask, how to ask, and when to let it be. General rule: if you are beyond helping others move, they are probably not going to jump at the chance to help you. Just saying.
3. Be nice to guys with big trucks. Because you just never know.
5. Pack with unpacking in mind. My packing pet peeve: unrelated items packed in the same box. On one of our first days of packing, Daniel handed me a sealed box labeled “KITCHEN/ENTERTAINMENT CENTER/MISC.” This is not a good sign. I say I often do things for “Future Christina.” I imagine how I might feel coming down to the kitchen in the morning and seeing dirty dishes or toys on the floor or lunches unpacked and it gives me the motivation to complete tasks I’d rather not. (My sister-in-law says, “You’re always doing things for that chick.”) But I do think it’s helpful to be thoughtful in packing, not to just throw everything in a box, but to consider where it will go and whether the way in which it is packed will be stressful later. Because the move doesn’t end when the last box is in the new place. Having said this, also,
6. Embrace—or at least learn to live with—your differences. Contrary to #5, Daniel’s packing pet peeve is boxes that are less than efficiently packed. If it doesn’t look like a Jenga tower, he is irritated. It matters not where the items came from, as long as they fit like a puzzle. This is how you get lots of “MISC” boxes and a disgruntled wife (who also happened to be chief unpacker). I let this bother me for a long time. However, when unpacking the (30 or so?) kitchen boxes, I learned to appreciate that he had packed pots and pans with throw pillows. Because a 4-foot-tall box is much easier to unpack when it’s unexpectedly half-full of pillows, which leads me to,
8. Clean the new place first. Admittedly, this isn’t always possible (as in our case). But man, I sure wish it had been. It’s still not as clean as I’d like it, and we’ve been there 10 days.
9. Have really fantastic friends. Okay, it’s not like you can really accomplish this on a whim. But we were so blessed to have friends bring us meals and one even drove his truck all the way from Connecticut (on his birthday weekend) to help us move. We also had a wonderful new set of friends help us with the kids, which reminds me,
10. Arrange for someone to watch your kids-- away from both houses. Our new friends brought us dinner the night before our move (complete with disposable silverware tied with gingham ribbon) and watched the kids at their house the day of the move. The girls even spent that first night away, which was unplanned and hard for me at first. I really wanted to show them their new room, but it just wasn’t a reality until the next morning when we brought them home. We should have planned this from the start. They had fun playing with friends, and we didn’t have to worry about their safety while we sorted things out.
12. Be prepared. Buy lots of trash bags, packing tape, paper towels, toilet paper, bottled water disposable cups, plates and cutlery (even if you’re not typically paper product or bottled water purchasers), ice, and have coolers on hand for refrigerated item transport (and drinks). Have directions between houses on hand for moving helpers and family, and don’t pack your phone chargers, iPod and docking station (or battery powered stereo of some sort) or cleaning products.
13. Have a plan of attack for room setup. I knew I wanted the girls’ room set up first so they would have a place to play and feel at home, the playroom, the kitchen, and our room behind that. It can’t all get done at once. But whenever I feel overwhelmed, I walk into the playroom closet and look at the neat shelves with labels and all is right for a moment. 13b. You really should invest in a label maker.
14. Cut yourself some slack. The week before (and really, after) the move, for us, have not really resembled real life. Lots of frozen meals and eating on the run. This too shall pass, and thank goodness for Trader Joe’s and macaroni and cheese.
15. Don’t let it go to your head. Change in Living Conditions ranks 25 points on the Holmes and Rahe Stress 100-point Scale (14 points behind “Gaining a Family Member.” I don’t see how that could be correct). We found it to be terrifically stressful, and it wore on our marriage. We fought over when to pack, how to pack, whether to hire movers, in what order to move, whether to and which farewell activities to participate in—the list goes on. We would have done well to give each other a little space to sort through our mixed feelings and let the little stuff go. In the end, it was all little stuff.