Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Moving House

So we are moving house again, the seventh time in seven years. This time we are not going far, just to a different house on the farm we are on. The truth is, that no matter whether one is moving down the road, or across the country, the process takes pretty much the same amount of effort, and it causes pretty much the same amount of disruption in our lives.

Thanks to Fly Lady, I have a very helpful printed list of Moving Tips which I keep on hand for times such as these. This list helps me to keep my head in the chaos of an upside down house.

I have allocated us a school-free week to pack up house, move, and unpack. I know that unpacking will take quite a bit longer, but on arrival day I will make sure that the beds are made, the kitchen is functional, the clothes are unpacked, and the current school work is readily available in the study, in that order. Then slowly over the next few weeks, I will find places for everything and sort and shelve books etc. My fun-loving husband will make sure that the music system and computers are up and working before the washing machine and dishwasher - he always does. My daughter will have her bedroom unpacked and decorated within the first two days, and my son will see to his bed and leave the rest for me while he explores, if I let him.

While I pack and prepare, my children are under instruction to use this time to catch up any schoolwork that they have fallen behind in, and give me at least two hours of packing time a day. It helps them to have the time boundary, so that they are free to play when they are tired. Both of them have willingly given much more time than this already. I start them in their own bedrooms and then they move on to their books. I find them much more willing to help when they are packing their own things. Ever since they were tiny tots, I have always kept them very involved in each move that we have made. I find that it helps  them emotionally with the transition and it also really helps me a lot. They also tend to be more ruthless than I am when it comes to tossing out unwanted possessions.

My favourite moving tip is to mark each item with a coloured sticker coded to each room of the new house. Then when the boxes and furniture are being carried in, they are taken to the correct rooms, each marked with a coloured sticker, immediately. This saves me a lot of back-strain later. It also helps me to visualize where each item will belong in advance. I am not so good at decision making under pressure. I also always draw a quick sketch of the layout of the house and "place the furniture" before the move. Again, I can direct the heavy furniture to exactly the right spot to save my back. We can always rearrange it at a later stage.

This time we are packing a lot of our goods into solid plastic crates from the farm - usually filled with freshly picked vegetables or fruit. Thankfully we are at the beginning of harvest time, so there are plenty of spare crates available for the week. The crates are wonderful because they fit into each other without squashing their contents, perfect for breakables. Their only snag is that the move will be on open vehicles on dusty roads and the crates are slatted. I am planning to cover the lot with blankets to prevent a lot of washing later. Soft goods, like clothes and cushions go into clear garbage bags so that I can easily see their contents.

I plan ahead for meals for the move. sometimes we are blessed with meals from kind friends, which are always much appreciated. Monday's lunch next door was very welcome when I was just getting started with the packing up.  I also like to clear the fridge as much as possible so that very few perishables have to be moved. Over the last two days I have cooked quite a few extra meals to help when the pressure is on. Firstly I made an enormous batch of muesli which will feed us for breakfast for the week. I had some leftover stir-fried vegetables which weren't all that tasty. So I used half in a pasta sauce and half in a quiche. I also had a half bucket of milk which needed using, so I made macaroni cheese and yoghurt. Then I found some cream at the back of the fridge - about a liter, so I made butter and then bread with the buttermilk. There was also some cream that was turning sour, so I used it up in a batch of scones which the many children gobbled up with great gusto. It may seem crazy to be cooking so hard while packing, but in doing so, I have freed up the rest of the week and don't really have to cook again. It also gives me a chance to leave the boxes for a bit.

Another thing that I have learned to do, it to pack an Arrival Kit which is the first box that I unpack in the new house. It consists of cleaning supplies, snacks, a set of linen for each bed, pajamas for everyone, towels for the bathrooms, dinner for the first night, some tea, and the kettle. If that is the only box to be unpacked on the first day, then that is ok. My husband will make sure the coffee machine is up and running before I have managed to make the first cup of tea.

Oh, and we always have music playing while we pack and unpack house. No one can be grumpy when they are singing. I am really looking forward to a bigger house. I love taking a house and turning it into a home.


  1. Move well, Cath. Sorry I can't be there to help.

  2. have always loved your moving tips and advice, thought out and planned so well (with lots of love too!)Hoping it wont be too long before we can visit you in your new home xxxxxx

  3. Thanks my two special Wendies. Wish you were both here to help me. A visit would be a great idea.

  4. I love the 'arrival kit' idea! I am defenantly going to remember that for our next move ;o) The music too! thinking of you Cath and looking forward to a picture tour of your new home - too far to come and pop in ;o)

  5. I really enjoy your blog - even though we don't know each other - and have nominated you for an award. You can visit mine at http://hoeksinuk.blogspot.com/ to see it. Desiree

  6. You’ve been moving a lot! But it’s really nice that the kids are able to help out with the packing. The more hands at work, the faster you will be able to finish! Playing music while at work is a very good idea too! It really helps everyone to be in a good mood and actually enjoy whatever they’re doing.

    Clay Delgado

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