Boxed In

By Sharon Naylor

June 13, 2014 5 min read

Few days are as nerve-wracking as moving day. All of your belongings are in boxes, you can't find your toothbrush, the movers are wrapping up your flat-screen TV, and you're snapping at your partner or kids. To help lower your anxiety levels on moving day, take these essential steps:

*Prior to Moving Day:

--Lighten your load. Go through all of your belongings, especially those in storage, and pare down. Donate, recycle, sell or dispose of items you no longer need.

--Get organization supplies. "To save time labeling boxes, select a different color of duct tape to represent each room. Create a master list designating a color for each room, and place a roll of that color tape in the room as you pack," says Nancy Haworth, professional organizer at On Task Organizing.

--Get optimally sized boxes. Mix large boxes that will be heavy when full with smaller, easier-to-manage containers. For example, tall wardrobe boxes keep your clothing organized, wrinkle-free and easy to pack and unpack. Or, place first-use items in clear plastic bins for easy location and access.

--Write detailed lists of what's inside each box, not just "kitchen." This way, you'll know just which box to access your coffeemaker and filters when you reach your destination.

--Use high-quality tape and a tape gun. Cheap tape might not stick to your boxes very well, and a tape gun will make box construction and closing go faster and more efficiently.

--Start packing well in advance. Focus on getting teens and other slow-movers in your family to get a jump on their packing as well. Make a list of items that each family member should leave unpacked until moving day: sneakers, school supplies and other essentials. This will reduce the chance of needing to rifle through already-packed boxes.

--Photograph the backs of your electronics before taking them apart, so that it will be easier to set up your computers, televisions and sound systems when you reach your new home.

--Number your boxes (e.g., 1 of 50) to verify no boxes have gone missing in the move.

--"Pack a couple of days of clothing, toiletries and medications as if you were going on a trip. Keep these bags with you on moving day," says Haworth. Especially in long-distance moves, moving trucks can get detoured or delayed, separating your belongings from you for most of a day if not several days. With your separate bag, you have access to toiletries and a change of clothes.

--"Before the move, take photos of furniture and other important items. In case anything is damaged in the move, you will have proof of the original condition," says Haworth.

*On Moving Day

--Be realistic about your timeframe. Your moving company may estimate four hours to load the moving truck, but weather and other factors may make it six. Make no plans for later, and accept that this may be an all-day event. And if you've booked your own moving truck, plan on an all-day rental to avoid price escalation for each extra hour you have the truck.

--Have a concrete plan for the movers. Discuss the plan with your partner before the movers arrive, avoiding disagreements and delays.

--Charge your cellphone, and keep your charger handy in case you need it later.

--Keep important papers with you.

--Keep all medications with you, including prescription, allergy, pain medications and extra contact lenses for your comfort and care.

--Meet your kids' and pets' needs. On a hectic moving day, it's easy to miscommunicate about walking the dog, and kids may be extra demanding if they're unhappy or nervous. Kids and pets pick up on anxiety levels of others around them, so do your best to keep your cool.

--Take breaks, and stay hydrated. This is hard work, and being thirsty will lead to greater fatigue.

--Plan a special lunch or snack for after the moving truck is all packed. Having something tasty to look forward to will help the hours pass. You might go to a pizza place or have a final picnic on the floor of your old home.

--Before you leave, take a moment to talk with your family about your favorite memories in your old home, and how much you're looking forward to new memories in the new home. Sharing gratitude will send an important message to your children.

--Lastly, take photographs of your empty home to provide proof of no residential damage when you moved (in case of security deposit disputes or complaints by the new owners). Do the same with your new home when you arrive to have the untouched rooms on record.

For more ideas, find a free printable moving day checklist at

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