How Do I Get Organized and Packed to Move to a New House?

Updated on May 29, 2013
D.C. asks from Fresno, CA
16 answers

I haven't moved in thirteen years and could use some advice. Last time I moved I was single and had no children. Now I'm married and have two little ones. We are moving in about 7 weeks and would like things to go as smoothly as possible. We are hiring movers for all the big stuff. I could use some advice on packing, organizing, and getting rid of stuff we don't need. I am not taking much time off so I will be packing things up after the kids are down for the night. Any expert movers out there? Please help.

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answers from Honolulu on

Label all boxes, with the ROOM it belongs too. And/or the person's name.
And brief list of items of what is in the box.

Get LOTS of packing tape.
And LOTS of Sharpie pens to label the boxes.
AND bubble wrap, for fragile items.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

try out I've found it immensely helpful for lots of things and they have a section on moving.

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answers from New York on

One room at a time with boxes marked very clearly!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Start in one room and go through everything. Throw out (meaning into a box marked for charity) things you have not used in years. Throw away trash..

In another box place things that are super valuable that YOU want to keep up with. Jewelry expensive collectables. Etc.. Place in a special box or Bin and mark it with Your name. Mark it "Not for movers to pack" This means You are going to place this in your own vehicle during the move.

If you are planning on having a garage sale/tag sale.. Mark these items with a sticker.. and take them to the Garage or an area in your home that is marked as "To be sold".

Then the rest.. You can place a sign on each bedroom that states what room in the new home they will be packed and delivered to.

Movers will pack everything, even the still damp towels in the bathrooms m, the dirty dishes in the sink and dishwasher, unless you are extremely clear about what should be packed and what is not to be packed.

Towards the end, consider using paper plates, paper towels and plastic cups.

The last sets of bath towels you all are going to be using.. Should go with you..

Use painters tape to attach to the bedroom doors or walls to explain your instructions.

Go not move junk or stud=ff that you are not going to use, or that can be purchased used or for cheap at the new location.. Moving costs money.. Sometimes it costs more to move it than to just purchase it new.

Breath.. These are just things.. If you drink get a good bottle of wine and have it handy.. If not, purchase a good bar of chocolate and refer to it as needed.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

When I did my last move we purchased bankers boxes (the kind with handles and lids). We loved these because they stack really well around the house and on a dolly and are easier to move individually because of the handles.

I then took different colors of construction paper and color coded the boxes by rooms i.e. pink for the kitchen, blue for the master bedroom, etc. I then taped 1/2 sheet to one end of the box and 1/2 sheet to the top of each box with the room written in big letters. I then listed in small letters the contents of each box. We then put the color of paper on each room at the new house and the movers could just match up the colors when they brought the boxes in the house. The movers even thanked us for making their job so much easier.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

Start with non-esentials such as holiday decorations, you won't be using the Christmas and Easter stuff, pack it and mark boxes well. Then go to extras, pack extra pillows, sheets and blankers and winter clothes. Move through your home thinking will I need this in the next 2 months? If not pack it.

I find if I mark the boxes extremely well, my unpacking is much easier. Unpack in reverse order, essentials first then move on to non essentials. I always pack one box for top essentials. Things like toilet paper, hand soap, bath soap, shampoo/conditioner, a few towels, paper plates, cups go together in one box and it is the first one in the door when I get to the new house. You do not want to have to search through several boxes for toilet paper when you or the kids gotta go in the new house.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Put a couple of boxes in the laundry room and each load of laundry you do put the items that are off season that you want to keep in one box. The stuff that won't fit next year goes in a give away box. If you keep the kids out of this stuff you already have the clothes for each and every person done in the next couple of weeks.

Then start on one room. I suggest you go through the toys with the kids. They have the right to choose what they give away and keep. Start a keep box for them in their closet. They should try to give some of them away. They are moving and should not have to lose everything at once, their home and their belongings are a lot to give up all at once.

I always go through the kitchen too. I can get rid of dishes that we don't use anymore. I never throw away small appliances that I haven't used for a while, I spent money getting them and I had a reason so I figure I'll use it again some

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

I would go through things as you are packing, like toys and stuff. Get rid of what you don’t want or use (if you haven’t touched it in 6 months toss it). Be sure to mark every box, kid’s toys, kitchen and bedroom. You can add a description of what’s in there and it will be that much easier when you get to your new home.

I also use towels and sheets to pack things so they won’t break and it helps to not overload the box. Make sure to use small boxes for books and large boxes for pillows, bedding. I bought all my boxes at Home Depot since I had to put everything in storage for a month. Since they are similar sizes they stacked nicely.

The most important thing is to be there when the movers pack the truck and empty the truck. I am not very trusting of all movers and if you are watching they will not damage your belongings. No matter how organized you are it is very stressful, especially with children. We finally moved into our new home and I am spending the holiday weekend unpacking.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Sort through and give away much as possible to start with, then mark each box and keep a notepad handy and write down on the notepad what's in each box...this is what we do and it's awesome for putting things away, once you get to the new house!

K-1 (Kitchen #1)
Pots and pans
Cutting boards

DVD player


Like that...keeps it very organized!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Hope you know that you can get really good boxes for free at many stores ... walmart is one of them. You don't have to pay for it.
I woud use them for packing all things that are going to be opened as soon as you reach the new place, Label each box - write down which room it is and the contents. If you have delicate items , write 'HANDLE WITH CARE' so that everyone's careful while moving those boxes.
For stuff like seasonal clothes, old baby clothes you may use for future kids etc buy the big plastic bins with snap lids , buy the same size so they will be stackable. These you can put them in your storage there (I use one of my closets as storage) and open then only when needed.
If space is an issue, I would invest in those plastic storage bags with vaccum seal. Works great! A great space saver, they come is different sizes , and once you vaccum seal them , they can go under the bed.

But before you start any packing, open up two big boxes. Mark one 'TRASH' And one 'DONATE'. Try to get rid of most of the things you don't use anymore. If you are unable to decide, keep it only if you have used it in the past one year. If you have not missed it past one year, good chance you will not miss having that in future as well. Go through each room and clear out stuff you don;t need and only then start packing. It will be so much easier. Pack one room at a time.

Good luck with the packing and hope you enjoy your new place!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Yikes, I'm actually taking a break from packing right now. We are having movers move us on Wed but we rented a UHaul and will be moving some things ourselves on Monday. My best advice...DOWNSIZE BEFORE YOU MOVE!!! I had all the great intentions in the world to do this, but I didn't. I thought, I will just move everything and downsize as I unpack. Well, that will work technically. But it costs a FORTUNE for the movers to move everything. So the less they move, the less its going to cost you. Looking back, I wish I would have just picked a room and went through it and donated the things I didn't need or use or like anymore. Then when it came time for packing, it would have been done and we'd be moving only what we really needed and wanted. Don't get overwhelmed by it, just take one room at a time. And the same thing when you pack. Luckily, my step dtr is only here every other weekend, so we have been putting extra boxes in her room as we go. That way, when the movers take the boxes, they should all go to the same rooms so they don't have to be sorting them. There really isn't any great advice, you put stuff in boxes and go. It's just getting started and doing it which is hard. lol Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I have always kept a box separate from what the movers take. It is the first box opened at the new house. In it I have paper towels, toilet paper, 409, Windex, pens, notepad, flashlight, first aid kit, light bulbs, scissors, paper plates, cups, plastic silverware, trash bags, 1 set of sheets & towels per person, charger cords, remote controls, etc. Basically anything I might need should the moving truck be late.

Another box to pack and keep close should contain your computer, personal papers, pet vaccination records, jewelry, papers to enroll kids in new school (shot records, birth certificate, etc), car titles, insurance papers, etc.

Empty out a drawer now and put a sign on it "For the new owners". In it, toss things you run across that should stay with the house- garage door openers, extra sets of keys, owners manuals, mailbox key, etc. Also, collect any keys you have left with neighbors.

More ideas-
Look at the "free" category on Craigslist. People are always giving away boxes. Once you are unpacked in the new home, you can list your boxes on Craigslist.

Ask the movers if you can borrow garment boxes from them. A lot of moving companies offer them if you ask. You keep your hanging items on hangers and can stuff bedding in the bottom of the box. Overestimate the number of boxes you will need.

Eat all your canned food now. Empty your freezer.

Use towels as packing for fragile items. Have friends start saving newspapers for you and watching out for more boxes.

Arrange a pickup date with Goodwill or a garage sale date. It will give you a deadline for purging old stuff. Advertise your garage sale in Craigslist.

Once you arrive at the new house and the van is unloaded, set up the children's rooms first so they have a place that feels familiar. It will also give them a safe place to hang out, away from the chaos. Depending on their ages, they can begin unpacking their boxes of toys too.

Good luck with your adventure.



answers from New York on

You've gotten a lot of good tips and advice, just wanted to add one more word of caution into the mix. You might want to think hard about those things which you shouldn't pack until the very last minute. Its ok to pack photo albums early, but pack your spatula too early, and you might be scrambling for it in a packed box.

For those things which you decide you can't /shouldn't pack until the very last minute, be sure to save a few spare boxes.

Also- call in some favors and make it fun. A girlfriend can help you finish off some wine so you don't have to pack it, all the while, you can wrap delicates.

Good luck to you and yours,
F. B.



answers from Dallas on

Fly lady has great moving tips



answers from San Francisco on

I've moved twice in the past year - once from Seattle to California and again five months later when we bought a house here. Before that I moved three times since 2005, so a total of five times in seven years.There really is no easy way to do the whole process, but I think my sister had the best advice when she told me to start weeks in advance of the move date and to start by packing up half of my kitchen first, because really, you're not going to be making apple pies or cookies anytime before you move! The kitchen is always the biggest time consumer when you move. Seasonal clothes can be packed away - start with anything you won't be using until after you move. As for getting rid of stuff, try not to be sentimental - try to be ruthless - if you haven't used it or worn it in a year, get rid of it. I also have three young kids (they are 6, 3 and 3 at the moment). I hired a babysitter so I could get stuff done. If you have any family around who could take them or someone who could come and entertain them for a few hours while you get stuff done, I highly recommend it - especially on move day. Get boxes from UHaul or from someone who has recently moved and start packing now! We packed the TV last in both cases as it helped to entertain the children when we were madly stuffing things into boxes at the end. Also, if you can afford it, hire professional cleaners to clean the place you're leaving as you won't have the time or energy to do it at the end. Good luck!



answers from Reno on

I don't have any answers. I just wanted to say Thank You for posting this! We have lived here for 14 yrs. and my kids are 13.5, 11 and 5 yrs. We, too, are moving (to Idaho from Nevada). I was wondering the same thing. So, again, thanks for posting..... Looking forward to all the great answers these mommas have. :)

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