Moving Tips to Keep You Sane

Last week I mentioned my number one moving tip to end all moving tips.

No, it wasn’t go to a beach and sip daiquiris while someone else does all the hard work. Although, I’d like to research that one just to see how viable it is.

It would be tough, but I could take one for the team and do lots and lots of research.

My number one moving tip was to designate a Parts Box to hold all of the small parts and pieces for your belongings. This includes parts for the bed frames, clock hands, screws and anchors, furniture feet, shelving pins, etc.

It will save your bacon. Trust me.

Most of the other things I’ve learned about how to make a household move less crazy have come through trial and error. A lot of error.

Since we’ve moved 4 gajillion 9 times or so in 16 years, I’ve become pretty good at the packing and moving process. I almost like it.


I know I sound off my rocker, but I like the newness. I like redecorating. I like purging. I like the new adventure and fresh start that a move brings.

There are a few things I do to make sure I don’t lose my ever loving marbles during the moving process. It doesn’t mean that things won’t go awry during the move. They do. It just means that I try to control what I can, minimize the risk where I can and shrug and laugh the rest of it off.

MOVING TIP: Seal anything that might leak.

I’m not sure what it is with children’s cough syrup, but I haven’t found a bottle yet that doesn’t leak. Am I the only one with this problem?

Even if we are using a moving company, I always pack toiletry items myself and use a two-step system. First, seal any bottles containing liquids in a plastic baggie and then place the baggies inside a small plastic bin with a lid. If something does escape the baggie, at least it is contained inside a sealed plastic container instead of a cardboard box.

The other liquid that you might think is sealed tight, but really isn’t, is nail polish. I found one bottle on this move that might have been sealed tightly enough for everyday use. It was not sealed tight enough for changes in air pressure and temperature though. Oops. Thankfully, the nail polish was all sealed in a small plastic bin, so the spilled polish didn’t damage anything important.


MOVING TIP: If it’s dirty, the movers will still pack it.

I don’t even know how this happened, but yes, that’s dried orange juice on a glass.

The real point here is to be ready when the movers come – especially if you are the one footing the bill for the move. Every delay because you are still sorting things or cleaning something is costing you either more money, more time or both.


MOVING TIP: Plastic totes are your friend.

When we were first married, I did my fair share of getting free boxes from the grocery store for our moves. I also spent a ridiculous amount of money on cardboard boxes, just to recycle or give them away as soon as we were unpacked.

Then we moved to a house with a basement and we decided to invest in a bunch of large plastic totes to store items that we did not want damaged by moisture.

Since we made that investment, we’ve never purchased moving boxes for across town moves we’re handling ourselves. We’ve loaded up the totes with all of our random stuff, taken them to the new house, unloaded and taken the empty totes back for another trip. The totes are sturdy, stackable and hold a lot of weight.

Totes are also practical when you are using a moving company, as we did this time for our international move. If there are items you want to pack yourself, then carefully pack them in a tote. In my experience, the movers don’t give more than a passing glance to a plastic tote if the lid is on. Don’t blame them if something breaks though. And for the love, don’t try to pack something that you aren’t supposed to pack!

MOVING TIP: Take care when moving food items.

These spices were packed by the moving company. Whoever packed the box did not do the best job separating the glass spice containers. The box smelled really good…like Herbes de Provence. Why did the jar of my favorite spice have to break? Why? This is one of those shrug and laugh it off times! Could have been worse.

There is a reason why moving companies don’t want you to pack liquids. Honey in a snap on container makes a big mess if it spills. See the side of the box? Again, it smells lovely though.

Moving Tip: Designate a safe zone.

A safe zone, particularly when movers or friends are helping you pack, is one corner or area of that house that is NOT TO BE PACKED AND LOADED UP. It’s safe. In order for the safe zone to be effective, everyone must know that it is the safe zone. This is very important.

This is a picture of our refrigerator in Georgia. It was the safe zone in the kitchen. Yes, it looks like a cool hot mess. It was. But it worked because I needed paper plates and cups for the next two days. I needed a knife. I also needed extra plastic bags for garbage.

I also had a safe zone in one of the bedrooms where my phone, purse, shoes I planned on wearing, suitcase, phone chargers, etc. were located.

MOVING TIP: Don’t become paralyzed by organization indecision. 

While momentum is on your side, start unpacking boxes as quickly as you can.

The initial goal of unpacking is not to find the perfect spot for everything. You need time to live with your home and its new spaces before you put new organization systems in place.

The initial goal of unpacking is for your home to be minimally functional. It’s a lot easier to find something if it is out of the box and on a shelf instead of packed away in a mountain of cardboard and packing paper.

The dishes and pans in this disaster of a kitchen (below) did not stay where I initially shoved them on the shelf. I was just trying to clear the kitchen of boxes and find the counters again. I dealt with the organization part later when I had time to breathe, think and figure out how to best utilize the space.

MOVING TIP: Get the kids involved.

It’s super awesome if your kids can hang out with family and friends while you are packing and unpacking during a move. One of my dearest friends in the whole entire world took my kids overnight while our house in Georgia was packed up. They had a ball and I was able to power through and finish up all of those last minute details. When we got to Ireland? I did not have that luxury. We know no one here, so I put the kids to work!

At 6 and 9 years old, my kids felt important to have some responsibility while we unloaded and unpacked our boxes.

Jump in a box to squish down papers? Perfect job for kids.

On this move, my kids hauled empty boxes outside. They helped me unwrap the packing paper off of items that I knew weren’t breakable. They set decorative items on the shelves for me as I unwrapped them.

I also let them unpack the boxes that belonged in their rooms.  It gives them ownership of their space and frankly, it’s going to be a little like Christmas for them to open a box full of toys.

If all else fails, take 30 seconds and cut a door in a box so your kids can play in a cardboard box fort while you’re unpacking. That 30 seconds will buy you a good hour of uninterrupted unpacking time. At least it did in my house!


MOVING TIP: It’s okay to be sad and excited at the same time.

I’m always amazed that the pendulum of human emotions can seemingly swing to both extremes at the same time for certain situations. How can I feel two opposite emotions at the same time about a move?

We certainly are complex creatures. Understatement of the year, right?

So if you are feeling sad and excited or some other combination of emotions about your move, I think that’s normal. I’m clearly an expert on what is normal. Ha!

Moving is something we all experience. It’s a big undertaking. Try not to sweat the small stuff. And don’t be too hard on yourself for what did or didn’t get done. You’re only human after all.

At the end of your move I hope you can look back and find some bright and happy spots to put in your memory bank.

If you want to know more about our experience moving to and living in Ireland, check out these posts:

Living in Ireland: Life Without a Car

Living in Ireland: Inside My Kitchen

Living in Ireland: Christmas in Retail 2017

Living in Ireland: Storm Ophelia

Living in Ireland: That Time a Tree Came Down

Living in Ireland: Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Living in Ireland: Back After A Month in the United States

Living in Ireland: As Seen On My Commute

Living in Ireland: A Trip to the Hardware Store

Living in Ireland: Spring Flowers In Our Yard

Living in Ireland: Grocery Shopping

Living in Ireland: What to See my Hot Press?

Living in Ireland: Merry Christmas 2016

Living in Ireland: Christmas in Retail

Living in Ireland: Groceries

Moving to Ireland: Grocery Item Look Alikes

Moving to Ireland: Primary School 101

Moving to Ireland: First Week of School

Moving to Ireland: A Day Out and About

Moving to Ireland: The Great Purge

Moving to Ireland: Human Kindness is Overflowing 

Moving to Ireland: House Viewing #1

Moving to Ireland:  House Viewing #2

Moving to Ireland: House Viewing #3

Moving to Ireland: Temp House First Floor

Moving to Ireland: Temp House Second Floor

Moving Tips to Keep You Sane

My #1 Moving Tip

Thinking about visiting Ireland? Read on!

The Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands with Kids

Galway with Kids

Our Favorite Irish Castle Tour with Kids

Belfast with Kids

Dublin: Talking Statues

Kissing the Blarney Stone and Blarney Castle

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