When you think of moving, the last thing you think of is an easy, calming and masterful process. Most often, the words complicated, stressful and disorganized are much more suitable. Being the daughter of a retired branch banker, I have done my share of packing and moving over the years and, while I am not an expert, I have certainly earned some merit points. Even so, I thought that there must be some things that we can do to make the process a little less stressful and perhaps even a little enjoyable. With this goal in mind, I recently sat down with Soraiya Kara, the owner of POSabilities Personal Organizing and Chair of the Professional Organizers of Canada (BC Lower Mainland Chapter) to get some expert tips.
So, what can you do to foster a little Zen in your moving process?
1. Start early and have a plan
If you know that you are going to be moving in the future, start early and tackle things step by step. Some families find it useful to create a moving plan on Excel that lists the various tasks that need to be done and when they should be done by. Get the entire family involved by assigning tasks to each person. Even young children can help by putting toys into bins and towels into boxes.
2. Relax and get comfortable
Why sit in the den or garage and go through boxes when you can do the same thing in front of your cozy fireplace. Put on some nice music or a favourite movie that you know by heart. Light some candles and pour yourself a glass of wine. Don’t overcomplicate things and start with three boxes: Keep, Recycle and Donate. This is an excellent start.
3. Use the Mirror Test
We often keep things because they were given to us by a special family member years ago and we feel obligated to keep them. When you pick up this item, whether it is a painting or piece of china, look at your reaction in a mirror. Do you smile or screw up your face a little? Give yourself permission to get rid of things. Just because your aunt gave you the china does not mean that you must keep it forever. If you are not in love with the china and do not enjoy using it, you are not remembering her in the right way.
4. Don’t forget the rewards
If you have a large project to get through, give yourself a reward once the project is done. This could be going for a massage or manicure or perhaps playing a round of golf. If your project involves the entire family, like organizing the garage, pick something that the entire family would enjoy. Head out to the theatre for a movie night or order in a special meal that everyone likes.
5. Label and colour code boxes
Keep things simple for your family and the movers by labeling and colour-coding each box. You can find colour-coded labels at most Vancouver self storage facilities or you can make your own. Make sure that you label the boxes on two sides, and not on the top, so that you can easily find your box when needed. In your new home, use painter’s tape to label the various rooms so that the movers know where to place your boxes. If you are planning to place some of your boxes in a self storage facility, stack your boxes in the unit by colour-code. This will help you locate what you need much faster.
6. Create a memory box
We often hold onto things because they evoke special memories and we are afraid that we will lose them if the object is not around. Consider placing some of these items into a special memory box that you can keep and go through when you wish. This could be a fun project for children. If the item is very large, awkward or no longer needed, you could take a photo of it and place it in a special scrapbook. Often, just seeing the photo will be enough to bring back the memories. When helping my mother-in-law move last year, I came across a hunk of shapeless, melted foam on a trophy base. There was a rock stuck to the top of the foam. When I showed her this item, she broke into a big smile. Apparently, the object was a trophy that her boys gave to their dad for Father’s Day 40 years ago. He accidentally left it on the sidewalk and it melted and picked up a rock from the driveway. They had kept it for 40 years because it triggered a special memory. We took a photo of it.
7. Stay somewhere else for a few days
If you are able, stay somewhere else for a couple of days, especially if you have children and pets. This way, you do not have to worry about packing linens, pillows, dishes and other items just before the movers arrive. Arrange for your children to have a sleepover at a friend’s house and put the pets in daycare for a couple of days. Moving is extremely difficult on pets and you will feel more relaxed if you know that your children are enjoying themselves elsewhere.
So, if you are considering a move in the coming year, reflect on these tips and see if any will work for you. With a little planning and some organization, it is possible to remove some of the stress and make the moving experience more pleasant for your entire family.
Tracy McEvoy has been managing commercial real estate for over 25 years and has held senior management positions with several of Canada’s largest real estate companies. Presently, she runs Maple Leaf Self Storage Inc. in Canada and has over 14,000 tenants. Maple Leaf Self Storage has been helping families and businesses for over 30 years. Soraiya Kara has been a professional organizer in Greater Vancouver for over 15 years and has created a special service called “The Stress-Free Move”. She can be reached at Soraiya@posabilitiesorganizing.com.