Organize Your Unpacking Process
People tend to focus on everything leading up to a move: securing a new place to live, changing the mailing address, figuring out new utility companies, etc. If you don’t organize for what happens right after a move, you’ll be left with an overwhelming pile of boxes to deal with and might end up with unopened boxes months or even years after your move. By making the right choices before and during the moving process, you can organize your unpacking process and make the transition to your new home quicker and easier.
Give Yourself Enough Time
It’s important to make your unpacking process fit your schedule. Moving is a long and tiring affair, but you need to do your best not to put off unpacking. The sooner you get all the boxes dealt with, the sooner you can relax into your new space. If you have to hunt through boxes to find important items, you won’t feel at home, and will be more stressed. However, throughout the process, make sure that you get enough rest and take plenty of breaks even if you’re pushing to get the hard labor done quickly.
If possible, take some time off to help speed up the unpacking process. This could include time off from work, kids, or even social engagements. Take a few days off of work. Find a babysitter who can get the kids out of the house. Say no when your friends ask you out to celebrate the move. You’ll be in a much better situation to deal with everyday life if your home is in order.
Not everyone can take time off, which is understandable. If this is your situation, you just need to spread out your unpacking schedule and get things done when possible. For example, you could have everyone in the family unpack two or three boxes every night. You could also set aside the harder tasks to be done over a weekend and work together to get a difficult job done. If you have kids who need incentives, offer a prize like a pizza night at the end of the process. Make sure that when you set goals and incentives, make sure the tasks are all actually achievable by the person you assign them to.
Focus on Essentials
When packing for a move, each person should have a box that they fill with essential items. These include everything you’d need to survive for a few days before other boxes get unpacked, such as toiletries, changes of clothes, entertainment, etc. These boxes should be clearly labeled so that you can find them to unpack first at the new location. Also take into account essential items that the whole household will need, such as linens and pillows, basic cookware, soap and shampoo, and any other items you consider necessary. If you are planning to arrive before the bulk of your items, make sure you have air mattresses or some other form of bed to sleep on.
One Room at a Time
Unpacking one room at a time can help you save both time and energy. Make sure all boxes are labeled so that you and the movers know which room they need to reach. Be specific with your labels. Instead of writing “kitchen” or “bathroom” on a box, give a clearer picture of what is in it, such as “plates” or “master bathroom”. This way you know which boxes to prioritize when unpacking if you can’t unpack an entire room in one sitting.
There are certain methods that are better when deciding when and how to unpack specific rooms. It’s good to have everyone chip in on larger projects such as the garage or living rooms during the day, or set each person up with their own set of smaller tasks around the house. Then leave bedroom unpacking for the evening. This way everyone can go to their own private space to unpack their more personal items. If you have older kids or teenagers, it’s good to encourage them to unpack their own boxes and organize their room how they want. This can help them feel more at home in the new space.
While you are packing, moving, and unpacking, keep in mind how you want the layout of your new home. It will be easier to organize the unpacking process if you already have a mental image of the end result.
The order of importance for unpacking rooms depends a lot on your personal preferences, but here are some tips to help you decide which ones take priority.
First you need to focus on unpacking your essential boxes, especially the most important items from the bedrooms and bathrooms. You don’t need to unpack every set of clothing in one sitting, but you do need a place you can unwind at the end of a long day of unpacking. Focus on seasonal clothing that are pertinent to the current weather and make sure you have places to clean up and comfortably sleep.
The kitchen is a crucial room to unpack early. Not only is it an important room for the whole family, but it tends to be one of the rooms with the most complex and delicate items to unpack. The quicker you can restore your kitchen to working order, the more content everyone will be with their ability to feed themselves, and the less money you have to spend on take-out.
After the kitchen, you can focus on finishing up the bedrooms and unpacking the living areas. The family room and media center might take higher priority for some people than others, with good reason. Having a way to take your mind off of things and entertain the family is almost as important as keeping everyone fed. Just make sure that whoever is tasked with setting up the electronics knows what they’re doing!
Once you’ve finished unpacking the most important items for a move, it’s time to redouble your efforts and make sure you don’t leave the boxes of odds and ends unpacked forever. A bit of organization goes a long way to make your unpacking experience as smooth as possible.