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Unpacking guide

No matter how prepared you are, moving and stress seem to go hand in hand. Then once you’re finally in your new home, surrounded by a sea of boxes, it’s tough to even know where to begin. Some people prefer to empty all boxes as quickly as possible, while others don’t mind leaving unopened boxes around for months and months. I fall into the former group, mostly because I hate not knowing where everything is. If you want to be a bit more deliberate on your next move, here are a few techniques that I employed last year when we moved from Kansas to Hawaii with a curious toddler in tow.

Purge prior to your move

The time to donate unused items is before you move! It makes life a bit simpler if you can unload things early rather than having to deal with them after you move. The easiest place to start is by going through your closets, your kitchen, and places you keep knicknacks. If you know that you will be downsizing drastically, consider selling excess furniture on an online marketplace. It’s much easier to get rid of something early rather than dealing with a cramped space later.

Keep your clothes on the hangers when you’re packing up

It probably goes without saying, but if you keep your hanging clothes on hangers it saves a whole lot of time. Once you unpack them with the hangers still attached you can easily hang everything in your new closet immediately.

Enlist help

Even if you don’t feel comfortable asking for help with your move, consider enlisting someone to watch your young children so you can focus on unpacking. If you can have a friend or a sitter take your children for a few hours, it’s amazing how much work you can get done when you’re completely focused.

 Place rugs and furniture immediately

It’s always easiest if you can place your rugs and furniture first so that the temporary boxes can be placed around them. It’s OK if you don’t get the layout completely right at the beginning, but having the large pieces where you think they will stay really helps a home come together quickly. We’ve been in our current home nearly a year and we are on our third living room configuration. Sometimes it takes time to figure it all out!

Ask for a full unpack

If you happen to have professional movers, go ahead and ask for a full unpacking job. It creates a mess for a while, but it’s always a relief to watch them take the boxes and paper away. Once I’m able to see everything I’ll often place things haphazardly in bookshelves or cabinets in order to free up surface space until I’m ready to formally organize everything. Eventually I’ll tackle one space at a time, moving things as required.

Tackle the kitchen first

The kitchen is always one of the first rooms I work on so that I can run the dishwasher and place things in cabinets. Setting up your cabinets and drawers frees up so much space and helps you empty boxes quickly. Make sure to wipe down the cabinets and refrigerator before filling them so that you know everything is clean.

Kids’ rooms take priority

If you have children, I’ve found that it works best if you unpack their rooms as quickly as possible. It’s important for them to have a peaceful place to sleep and play without unopened boxes lying around. It can get pretty stressful if you have kids and unpacked fragile items in the same space, so do your best to elevate the breakables and unpack a designated kids’ space as soon as you can.

Moving is tough work for everyone involved. The best thing to do is have a loose plan and resign yourself to a bit of chaos for a while!