Packing Advice from Tennessee

After about my 15th trip to Goodwill delivering another load of stuff we really didn’t need to haul across the country, I decided to ask the kind young man helping me, “So, have you guys been getting a lot more donations lately?” “All day every day for the past 2 and a half years” was the man’s response. The huge lines I sat in almost every time I went proved his claim was true.

Here is my packing advice in a nutshell: get rid of anything you don’t absolutely love. For me, that meant we brought all of our memorabilia. Every craft my kids made at their school over the years, cards I couldn’t bear to throw away from my husband, gifts from treasured friends, photos, wedding china… But, anything that didn’t represent big significance in our lives I threw out. Really go thru things thoroughly and don’t waste space that could be used to bring your kids’ favorite nerf guns because you accidentally brought way too many old Christmas cards and a box of clothes no one wears (oops). (Check out this post if you’re curious to see pics of our Uhaul Pods:

Unfortunately, it can be tricky finding furniture for your new place, so if you have anything of value or that you just really love, I would highly recommend holding on to it. (We ordered nightstands for our master bedroom back in October and the furniture store told us they’re set to arrive in JUNE!) On the other hand, it is so nice and refreshing being able to start from scratch with new stuff. If you’re leaning towards that mentality, as we were, I recommend you order things well in advance and ask your realtor if you can have furniture delivered to his house! (Ha ha, no you probably shouldn’t do that, but we had a bunk bed delivered to ours – I know I know, it was embarrassing, but he was so kind to say yes!)

Now check out these far more helpful tips from our Idaho and Texas Ramblers!

Packing Advice from Idaho

My advice regarding packing is to be creatively resourceful and compassionate on yourself! Considering all the supply issues going on as Erika mentioned, it’s tough right now finding a balance between too much stuff and not enough stuff. That might mean bringing your bed, sofa and/or table that you don’t want to keep long-term but will need as placeholders until the items you want become available. In our case, we bought a new dining set here and only the chairs were in stock! We’re so thankful we brought our old table, so we have something to eat on for the next several months while we wait.

But your situation will be unique to you, so you’ll get to call all the shots and don’t fret about what other people say. So much will depend on the size of the truck or containers you are able to secure. (Book way in advance!) And if you’re anything like me, you might struggle with unnecessary guilt – I’m a terrible person because I’m packing too much and I’m supposed to declutter more, or I’m a terrible person for trashing so much and filling up landfills, etc, etc. Remember the promises of God. Take all your anxieties to Him and experience the gift of freedom new every day, as often as needed. God will not condemn you for hording or wasting when your heart is focused on simply doing the best you can to pack and move for the good of your family.

Here are a few more practical tips that helped me:

  1. The FIRST thing you need to do is book your moving truck or containers! You can book multiple ones if you are unsure and then cancel the ones you don’t want. You may need to get creative! Consider renting a truck from your destination and drive it back and forth (even with all the gas, it may just save you money). Or you could buy some kind of trailer and sell it when you are done. We LOVED using U-Pack, a giant truck trailer that we loaded ourselves (you could hire some college guys – the ramp is brutal) and was driven for us to our destination. You only pay for the space you use, as there are markers in the truck. The prices are very affordable, it was even cheaper than driving a U-Haul ourselves. It was perfect for our needs, but they do book up a month or more out and may not deliver in your city.
  2. Get a storage unit for staging your house to sell. For us this was well worth the cost to get things completely out of the house (and garage!) and made our house so much easier to sell. We found the closest one to our house that also had late-access hours. We made several trips back and forth with our minivan of all the things we wanted but could live without for a couple months.
  3. Make a list of areas you want to tackle and maybe even schedule it out so you can get an idea how long it will take. Homeschooling four kids meant we spent an entire day on books! We also spent one whole afternoon on board games, another on movies, etc. Trying to declutter & pack the whole house at once will likely get you overwhelmed. Declutter big items first – it can help get the momentum going.
  4. Look for ads on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for free boxes. We even scored a box of bubble wrap and packing papers! I will tell you though, standard-sized moving boxes such as the Home Depot small, medium, and large ones are going to pack and stack a lot easier than random Amazon boxes.
  5. Wrap drawers, small containers, silverware holders, etc with plastic wrap. You can find some in moving supply aisles, but Costco’s kitchen plastic wrap worked fine for us. Get creative on what you can wrap up!
  6. Labeling: I used two sharpies (one color for upstairs and one color for downstairs) and wrote the room destination on top of each box. For items that weren’t in regular boxes, I’d just slap on a piece or two of white masking tape and wrote on that.
  7. Sell and give away what you can, but don’t fret about dumping. A lot of what gets donated to Goodwill gets dumped anyway so why not save them the trouble? If you don’t have a neighborhood clean-up day coming up, call your trash company to schedule a special pick-up. You may even want them to give you an extra can for your weekly pick-up. Hopefully you are friends with your neighbors because they might be able to help you too. (Ours let us use their trash bins and helped get rid of the last few items we couldn’t fit in the car!)
  8. If you are sending your stuff off ahead of you, you can borrow a friend’s camping gear to get by in an empty house (such as camp chairs, folding table, air mattress, etc). You can also pack these kinds of things in your car to take with you and have your first night.

Packing Advice from Texas

Getting our family out to Texas went rather smoothly, but, oh man, the story of getting our stuff out to our new state was crazy. I won’t go into all the details here, but basically even after a lot of research and reading lots of reviews, our movers ended up being shady and took our deposit and no showed on us. We had to quickly think of a plan B, literally two days before we were supposed to leave for our move. It’s moments like this where I am always so thankful for my incredible husband who is insanely resourceful, cool under pressure and great at solving problems.

When we arrived in Texas we moved into an Air BnB while we looked for a home to buy. While this may not be the ideal scenario, it was what we had to do for financial as well as logistical reasons. This being the case, we essentially had to pack for 2 different situations. We packed a small but essential amount of stuff to live and be comfortable in our temporary house and then we packed long term stuff that we knew we wouldn’t see for a few months. This made the packing process quite arduous because we didn’t know what our new home was going to look like, thus I ended up packing more than I probably needed to “just in case.”

My best advice when starting to pack would be to purge and then purge some more. And on the flip side my advice would be to also not be too hard on yourself, especially if you are in a situation like we were, where you don’t know what the exact size or style of your home will be. Keep all the sentimental stuff–all the photos, treasured gifts, and keepsakes from your kids. None of that can be replaced at your local Super Target. Keep the Christmas decorations. Box up favorite books and toys and timeless decor, but ditch decor that probably won’t vibe with your new place. I have boxes of decor that I haven’t even unpacked yet because it just doesn’t fit with the style of our new home. Keep the china and favorite coffee mugs, but you can probably do without the mismatched Tupperware and sippy cups. And if you find that some of your small appliances, towels, or sheets are getting worse for wear, I would say donate them and purchase new fresh items to spruce up your beautiful new home. When we were packing and I wasn’t sure about an item, I would ask myself if the item was worth more or less than the cost to move it.

As far as furniture goes, we had purposefully saved and planned to buy mostly all new furniture for our Texas home. So, while we were waiting for our stuff to arrive from California, we at least had comfy new beds to sleep in, a new couch to cuddle up on, and a new kitchen table to enjoy meals around. We were blessed to not run into any shipping delays when ordering our new furniture and got everything delivered rather quickly. However, this isn’t always the case, so purchasing as soon as possible is usually your best bet.

At the end of the day, things are just things. I personally wish I would have gotten rid of more. After living in an Air BnB for almost 2 months, I learned just how little you actually need to get by. I also learned that decor that you find aesthetically pleasing, comfort items, and special belongings can quickly make a place that feels cold or unfamiliar feel instantly more like home.

The End of the Matter

As Lindsey mentioned, every family is unique so it is completely fine to conduct your own family’s move however you see fit. Just remember, as Michelle said, stuff is just stuff – people are of infinite value. Use the stuff to inspire, bless and serve the people and your packing experience will be both fruitful and dare I say, even a little bit fun. No? Too much of a stretch? Ok, then my advice is to persevere… This too shall pass and all the work will soon be worth it!! Press on!

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