The Organized Move: Unpacking with a Plan

(This is the third in a series of three articles on "The Organized Move")

The moving truck is pulling in the driveway of your new home and soon you will be surrounded by all your stuff. You have dreamed about the additional space...you have agonized over paint and furniture choices...and you have steadily purged the non-essentials among your belongings. Things will be different in this house! Everything will have a home, the spouse and kids will do their part to create order and the vow to ORGANIZATION has been made -- but before this vision can become a reality, you must unpack and set up your new home.

Highlighted below are simple tasks that you can do to make unpacking a snap and keep the clutter in check.

If possible give yourself a realistic time frame. Arrange well in advance for personal days or use vacation days from work. If you have young children send them to Grandma's or fly your mother-in-law for a few days. Delegate everyone's tasks and remind them this is not social visit, but a working one. (If it's your mother-in-law, let your spouse be the point person for that conversation!)

It is essential to give yourself this block of time so that things can get done properly and not be sentenced to garage limbo for 6 months. We have all witnessed this phenomenon, and in some cases the garage is not clear until the weather changes or in extreme cases the next move day.

Whether you are moving into new construction or an existing home, plan to get into the space early to do some light housekeeping. If budget permits arrange for a cleaning crew. Please remember this is not a thorough housecleaning, but a once-over for the bathrooms, kitchen and cabinets. If the carpets are in bad shape, you might consider having them professionally cleaned (although the move-in process may mess them up again).

Your moving day can be extremely chaotic, so make sure you have a small bag packed with your essentials -- basically an overnight bag. Medications, toiletries, sweatshirt, cell phone, and your first aid kit. It is very difficult to predict when those wardrobe boxes will be opened, so just be prepared for anything. If you are moving during the school year, keep backpacks and kid's school projects in a safe and accessible space.

Reveal your unpack schedule. All "essential" family members should have their own copy. "Essential" refers to family members that are of the appropriate age and physical capability to assist in the unpacking and I am sure that in a few homes only one unpack schedule will be needed. In this situation you should inquire about outside services for help.

The unpack schedule prioritizes the day and keeps things moving at a smooth pace. Bed setup and large furniture placement require immediate attention. Tape a simple diagram of the room to show placement for the movers and or family/friends; this will eliminate the constant back and forth. If possible place lamps, pictures, and boxes in the closets temporally for safekeeping. Closets should never be tackled on the moving day. Closets require your undivided attention and a proper mindset and the moving day is not conducive to either one.

The kitchen should be the next area of focus. If the kitchen is a main traffic area, hold off until the space is less traveled. If all is clear, tackle the necessary items first. For example you may want to run daily glassware, flatware, and dishes through a short cycle in the dishwasher. All serving and entertaining pieces will make do with the quick wipe of a clean towel. Place decorative pieces out of the way, this is not the time be arranging your collections. Now that all the boxes are open and you are waiting for the dishwasher to finish, think about your kitchen activities and position the equipment relative to these activity zones. These zones vary upon the type and size of kitchen. Store your frequently used kitchen equipment between knee and eye level. Make sure your kitchen works with the flow of your family's lifestyle.

In the common areas of the home, the furniture can be arranged with relative ease. The family media center may require a bit more time. If you have school age children, bribe them with few dollars and have them separate their videos and music from yours. Kids can also put all the pillows with the coordinating sofas and chairs. Open some of the family book boxes and have the kids fill the lower shelves.

Bedrooms can be done in tandem with the closets, so if your first night is spent in fully made bed -- congratulations!!. But realistically spend a day on each bedroom including the closet, it does not have to be the entire day, but finish one area completely before moving on to the next room.

The garage: This space is often forgotten, so put your best foot forward and spend a few hours when things inside are winding down and get the garage in order. Break down and recycle your used cardboard boxes and get them to the curb. There are some really inventive garage organizers out on the market. Invest in a couple that fit your budget and activities. If space permits, place a shoe organizer and hang a couple of hooks by the door. This is great for the overflow from the hall closets. Don't forget to look up for the additional storage. Hang your bikes during the off-season and large baskets for those rarely used, but must keep items.

The months of planning, packing, and unpacking are complete. So relax and relish in your accomplishment. Get out, meet the neighbors and show off your new and very organized home.

Copyright 2004 Bridget Messino

About the author: Bridget Messino is a Professional Organizer and co-owner of Clutter Free Living, Inc. Her work frequently appears on many Internet sites and on her own organizing site Clutter Free Living as well as in her monthly Home Organizing Newsletter How to Be Clutter Free. Subscribe to the FREE monthly e-newsletter by sending a blank e-mail to [email protected] com

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