I have had a few requests for some information on how we prepared for our move last spring. The simple answer is...We Purged! Details on that later. First, though, although I have become a bit more relaxed through the years, I am still a fairly organized person. I must admit, though, the thought of transporting every item in our home to another house miles away was daunting. The keys to success: organization and patience. Here is how we went about sorting, organizing, purging and packing the contents of our lives.
Before You Begin: Gather Your Supplies
You will need large garbage bags, Rubbermaid or Sterlite storage tubs, Sharpie Markers, and boxes.
Step One: Start Early And Pace Yourself
Although it is tempting to grab some boxes and start throwing things inside, please don't do that. Just don't. You can start thinking about it as soon as you know you will be moving, or as soon as you decide to downsize the extra clutter in your life. But take it slowly. We started in our storage closet, and worked for a few hours a day. That's it.
Step Two: Take One Room/Area At A Time
Work on one area at a time. We started upstairs, and worked through one room until it was completely finished. First, we looked around the room and decided what we wanted to keep, and what we could live without. We used this opportunity to really downsize and remove the unnecessary clutter from our home, and therefore from our minds. It is amazing how much stuff one can accumulate through the years. Be tough. Be strong. Remember that although it may seem impossible to part with that special figurine your best friend gave you in high school, I promise you will survive without it.
Step Three: Keep~Donate~Pitch
This is what we said as we worked through each room. Items we wanted to keep stayed put. Things we thought we could donate, we put in boxes or tubs. And things we knew were old, broken, or just worthless went into the garbage bags. Once we were finished with that, we looked around the room, found the items we could live without for the next few months, and packed them in tubs. We packed books, pictures, pillows, and anything else not necessary for day to day life. We labeled each tub carefully. Don't bother with label makers or notecards. Just write on the tub! You can always cross it out later!
Step Four: Be Brutal
Depending on your stage in life, this could be a tough one. Ten years ago, I would not have had such an easy time letting things go. Now, as I and many of my family and friends have found, "things" are not so much important as they are clutter. As I age, I find my need for things diminishing. Clean, clear, cozy space is soothing for the soul. Therefore, I rid myself of knick knacks, decorations I have had since my wedding, blankets, pillows, CDs, books, dolls, sheet sets, pictures, picture frames, cookware, silverware, and DVDs. The kids cleared out toys, books, and those evil piles of stuffed animals!
I asked myself a few questions. Do I use this? Could someone else in a different stage of life benefit from this? Can I live without it? Why do I have this? Once I answered these questions, I felt a profound sense of freedom in donating and throwing items away that I did not need. Case in point...crystal vases and bowls. We were gifted beautiful crystal items when we married some twenty-seven years ago. As a young woman, I displayed them in a hutch in our formal dining room, and took them out once a year to clean them. When we began using our dining room as a schoolroom, I packed them carefully and stored them in a tub in our basement. I asked myself if I wanted to lug them to our new house and do the same? If I hadn't touched them in four years, did I really need them? Nope. Could someone else enjoy them? Yep. Done.
We did this for every single room in our house. We did this for every single tub in our basement. We went through my old high school yearbooks and Steve's hat collection. We went through drawers and closets and cupboards. We worked a few hours a day, and more on the weekend. Once you get in a rhythm, you find it actually feels good. And you never know what you may find that you don't need.
Example...When my older kids were little, we had paper plates called Zoo Pals that had different animals on them. Peyton LOVED them. I remember she tried to collect them all. Apparently, as a young mother of three kids eight and under, I misheard Peyton when she asked if she could keep the ones she collected. I agreed and thought nothing of it. Fast forward thirteen years, and as we are purging, we discovered Peyton's Zoo Pal plate collection. She agreed that it was time to pitch them, and when I went to throw them out...Brace yourself...I saw that she had saved USED ones!!!!!!!! I don't think I threw anything away as fast as those in my life! Then proceeded to scour my hands and her closet too! We laugh about it now. But...ugh!
Step Five: Donate And Pitch As You Go
Steve was awesome with this. Every day, he took garbage bags of trash to the dump and tubs and boxes of donations to specific people or to resale stores. Keeping up with this part ensures you aren't simply moving things from one place to the other. You aren't simply moving them from your house into your garage.
Step Six: Pack, Label, And Store The Things You Are Keeping
Once you have only the bare minimum...the items you are keeping and can live without until the move... pack them in tubs or boxes, write on them exactly what is inside, and store them neatly in a storage space, basement, or garage. Looking at the organized section of tubs and boxes will give you so much pride and encouragement to continue. I promise!!!
Step Seven: Move Only Things You Need
This sounds redundant but stay with me. When we finally were ready to move, we took stock of some of the things we had packed and realized that we had not missed some of them in three months. For example, did I really need four sets of sheets for each bed? No. We use one set, and we wash them and put them back on. A couple sets are all you need. Well...except for the holiday sheets, but that is another post. : ) I also found that if a food processor and blender had been packed away and I never missed them, I could live without them. Donate!
Step Eight: Keep Some Of What You Want
Lastly, I want to mention that I did keep some non-essentials. I bought small memory boxes and filled each one with very special mementos from each of our parents. I kept pictures, notes, and special memories inside each one. I did the same for each of the kids. One look into their memory boxes and I found that clearly, I had kept way too much! I found binkies, bottles, bibs with spit-up stains...all things as a young mother I thought I would need to remember those special days. Now, as an older mom, I realize those days are tucked safely inside my heart. And my children are right here in front of me every single day, all of us creating brand new memories together.
I hope this is helpful to some of you embarking on a move or a downsize. I am no expert, of course. This is simply what worked for me. : )
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