Like a lot of families, we have spent a lot of time at home this last year. All of that time at home made us realize that our house was not the home we wanted it to be. We started noticing the too-small rooms and the windows that needed to be replaced and the lack of storage. I started sending my husband Zillow links as giant hints that it was time to start house hunting. Mortgage rates were low and it was a great time to sell our house. Now buying on the other hand was a little trickier.
For anyone who has looked at buying a house during this last year knows, the market was almost non-existent and often houses that we did find were under contract before we could even schedule a walk-through. Eventually, with a lot of patience and a little luck, we had our offer accepted and we found ourselves ready to start packing!
Here are some of the tips and tricks that we gathered and learned during our COVID-19 move.
Be Patient (and Realistic).
We had our list of things we needed, things we really wanted, and things that would be nice to have but we could live without. The market right now is saturated with buyers and not much inventory. It took a couple of months and several weekends of viewing houses to finally find one that felt like home.
Clean it Out.
We had lived in our house nearly ten years. We moved it right when we first got married. At the time, we didn’t have much and it was easy to move ourselves. This time around…we had a lot more stuff. We hired a company to come and haul off and recycle all of the stuff we no longer needed. Renting a dumpster or hiring some junk haulers/recyclers to help clear out space and avoid moving things we didn’t want or need is one of the smartest decisions we made and has made unpacking much easier.
Pack it Up.
There are tons of great packing tips to be found online. Placing a trashbag over your clothes while still on hangers, color coding your boxes based on what room they will go in (I found labels on Amazon — but colored paper or duct tape works, too), using towels and sheets to wrap your breakables. Take the extra time to wrap and label the cords. Trust me. You’ll thank yourself later. Mark those “open first” boxes in a way that you will be able to quickly find those things you need first. Giving each family member a basket to put their priority items is a huge life saver. You don’t want to have to search for medicine, toothbrushes, and phone chargers that first night in your new house. Remember that no matter how you do it, packing will be one of the most time consuming parts of the whole moving process. The more time you spend organizing as you pack, the easier unpacking will be once you are moved.
Keep it Simple.
Paper plates, plastic utensils, and frozen pizza are your friends. No one wants to be washing dishes and cooking a big meal while trying to pack up your kitchen. Save yourself the time and stress and use disposable items and quick and easy meals. Ordering take out the week of your move is almost essential. We also picked up donuts the day before our moving day so that moving day breakfast was super easy.
Make it Special.
We all knew that saying goodbye to the only home our daughter had known was going to be tough. The first night we had keys to our new home we ordered pizza from our favorite place and had a picnic style meal at the house. No furniture just us. We talked about where we wanted to put things and what memories we were excited to start making. Having a good first memory in our new home to start us off right felt good.
Make it Fun.
Moving with kids and pets is never going to be easy. Despite your best planning and all the tips in the world, tears will likely happen at some point if you are dealing with a tiny human. Include them in the process (unless you have an infant or toddler). Make sure they know that it’s important that they like the house, too. Emphasize the big backyard that they can play in or the awesome park that they can walk to with their dog. Whatever it is, make sure they feel like they are an important part of the decision. Have them help pack their toys and special things while reminding them that they will have them all out of boxes and ready to play soon.
Take a Moment.
Make the last night in your old home special. Everything will be boxed up and you will probably be stressed out, but make sure that your final memory is not of you yelling for more packing tape. Take a few moments to maybe take a last family selfie in front of your house and give yourselves a chance to really say goodbye before you hand over the keys.
Make Room for Pets.
Dropping pets off for a weekend vet stay or boarding them maybe the best idea. As stressful as the move is on your human family members, remember it is probably even more stressful on those furry members of your crew. We made sure to have their beds, toys, food, and litter boxes all ready for them in their new space before we brought them over. We took the dogs for a walk around the backyard while still on their leashes to give them a chance to sniff around and check for any gaps in the fence where they might escape. We let the cats out of their carriers in the same room as their litter box so they would quickly know where to find it. Spoiling them with treats and new toys to make them feel safe and loved also helped.
No matter what, remember that moving is never easy. Saying goodbye to a place you called home will always create big feelings especially for our kids. There may be tears and there may be tantrums and your kids might struggle too. Giving our kids (and ourselves) grace during these big changes is essential. And I promise that eventually everything will get unpacked…maybe.