6 Secret to a Smooth Move  |  Design Mom

Photos and text by Lindsey Johnson.

Moving. It’s been on my mind the last month or so. We just made a move to a new city in the same state. Design Mom moved halfway across the world. Five years ago we packed up and moved across the country with a newborn and two toddlers. We’ve all done it at one time or another. Some moves are bigger and more hectic than others. But let’s just get this out there: moving stinks! I don’t know one person who has ever said, “Moving is great!  I love it!” Quite the opposite! That’s because it’s just plain miserable most of the time. Packing up all of your belongings, schlepping them to another town, state, or country? Not fun at all. Am I right?

6 Secret to a Smooth Move  |  Design Mom6 Secret to a Smooth Move  |  Design Mom

Someday I dream of hiring a moving company to do all the work for me, but in the meantime as we continue to pack and move ourselves, I rely on some tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years. I’m happy to share what I’ve learned with you to help you or someone you know have an easier time packing and moving — and hopefully making it a bit less miserable in the process. : )

6 Secret to a Smooth Move  |  Design Mom6 Secret to a Smooth Move  |  Design Mom6 Secret to a Smooth Move  |  Design Mom

Ready to get packing? Let’s go!

6 Secret to a Smooth Move  |  Design Mom

To start, I always plan my packing around the end goal, which is, Secret #1: to be able to find everything when I need it. That seems kind of obvious, but once there are dozens of stacked boxes all over the place and everything feels disorganized and messy, you might not be able to find that box with the pair of scissors or pocket knife you need to start opening up all the other boxes. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I would remember what was in certain boxes as I was packing them only to forget a few minutes later — even right after I taped them up!

The method I use now does take a little more effort at first, but on the other end of the move, it makes unpacking and organizing infinitely easier.

6 Secret to a Smooth Move  |  Design Mom

Secret #2: Each room is designated a number. For example – Living Room 100, Kitchen 200, Girls’ Room 300, Boys’ Room 400, Master Bedroom 500, Bathroom(s) 600, Office 700, Storage Room 800, Garage 900, and so on. You could also color code the rooms, but the numbering has worked best for me.

6 Secret to a Smooth Move  |  Design Mom

Secret #3: I have a clipboard with a notebook or a stack of paper. Each page corresponds to the rooms and boxes in the number series.  Some rooms might need extra pages because of a higher number of boxes for that room. This will make more sense in a second.

6 Secret to a Smooth Move  |  Design Mom

I assemble my supplies — boxes, packing materials (like bubble wrap or packing paper for delicate items), markers, a notebook and clipboard, and dozens of rolls of tape. Then it’s time to start packing the boxes.

6 Secret to a Smooth Move  |  Design Mom

Secret #4: Each box is numbered so that it corresponds to the room to which it belongs. If I have five boxes for the Kitchen, they would be numbered 200, 201, 202, 203, and 204, etc.

6 Secret to a Smooth Move  |  Design Mom

Secret #5: On the clipboard sheets, I will write a general list of what is contained in each box. It doesn’t need to be too specific at this point unless there is a particular item I know I’ll want to find immediately when we arrive at the new place. For Living Room, for instance, I might be packing pictures from the wall, albums, CDs, DVDs, decorative items, and maybe the pillows from the sofa.  I would list them in that way on the notebook sheet and even on the box.

6 Secret to a Smooth Move  |  Design Mom

Sure it’s easy to just write the box contents on the outside of the box. And I do that too, but writing it down on a sheet in an organized way helps me keep track of everything better and if a box inadvertently gets lost, I know what was in it. Make sure to write the box contents down before you seal it up.

6 Secret to a Smooth Move  |  Design Mom

Secret #6: Inevitably there is are going to be things that may not have a specific place, or they might be things you find under the couch after all of the boxes have been packed. That’s where the Miscellaneous category comes into play.

Also, I might have a few boxes marked as Important. This could be my 000 series of boxes. The things in these boxes are going to be things like cell phone chargers, important documents that I don’t carry on my person, or even a family heirloom. Those get marked with red because they are important and I can see that at a glance. Secret #7: Some or all of these boxes are also going to be the boxes that I want to pack with me in the back of the car or will be the last on the truck so I immediately know where they are upon arrival at the new house.

6 Secret to a Smooth Move  |  Design Mom

I know this might sound a bit excessive and overwhelming, but once you get going it is a snap. The reason I keep doing this is that it works so well on many levels. As the moving van is unloaded, it’s easy to see which boxes go in which room. This is a great help when you have other people helping you. It can be overwhelming to be the one in charge! But this eliminates some of the stress. You know what’s in each box just by looking at it. No more tearing open box after box looking for a lost item. It’s also great for insurance purposes because you have a detailed list of your possessions if anything is damaged, lost, or stolen.

Also, some things don’t need to be opened or unpacked right away. It’s summer now, so if I know I have my Christmas decorations in a box labeled for my storage room, I don’t need to unpack that. But with Fall just around the corner and school starting, I will really need to know where the jackets and sweaters are packed.

6 Secret to a Smooth Move  |  Design Mom

Other Moving Tips:

– Don’t pack books or other heavy items in big boxes! It seems like a great idea until you have to pick them up. For books, use smaller boxes with sturdy bottoms and sides. Tape them well.

– When packing fragile items like dishes, use dishtowels, tablecloths, and other similar items that you would be packing anyway to cushion them.

– I save original boxes and styrofoam packaging materials for small appliances and electronics (when I can or if I have the storage space) because it’s the best way to protect those items when moving.

– Stock up on plenty of packing tape. You don’t have to go crazy with taping, but you’ll run out faster than you think. One strip of tape in each direction should be sufficient for a simple across town move.

– Moving boxes are expensive to buy! Check Freecycle and Craigslist for free boxes. Another great resource are dumpsters behind restaurants, grocery stores and apartment complexes. Or, ask a friend who has just moved to save their boxes for you.

Now tell me, Design Mom readers, do you have any tips to add to my list? Or maybe more entertaining, do you have any horror stories from moving? Mine involve that cross country move with a newborn. We did one of those u-pack things. The bulkhead that separated our stuff from the other stuff broke  and every single item we owned was damaged. Total nightmare! Luckily our move last week wasn’t quite so awful. Live and learn!

P.S. — Love secrets? Find all the posts in this series here.