Top Tips from a Military Brat
They say that moving house is the second most stressful situation you can find yourself in. Personally, I think there are far more stressful things in life you can face… but then, I’m a Military Brat, and moving house for me is as routine as brushing my teeth in the morning. Growing up in a military family, there are a few lessons I learned pretty quick.
1: Respect is the most important gift you can give anyone.
2: Organisation and preparation will lead you down a much happier path in life.
3: Moving house is a part of life and can be fun rather than stressful.
Number 3 on that list is not really a skill or lesson that most people will have to learn in their lifetimes. I do in fact know many people who have lived in the same house, or at least the same street, for most, if not all, of their lives. But when you enter into a military life, you have to become quickly accustomed to change. Most military families move at least every 2 years, which means that during your childhood you are likely to see the inside of nine or ten houses.
However, the older I got, the more I began to realise that the way I was brought up was not the same as others. I learned lessons most will never learn, saw sights some people will never see and spent my life surrounded by control and order. So it stands to reason that when we did move house, it was done in an orderly fashion with military style precision.
1: Take everything you know about moving house, or think you know, and flush it down the toilet. You don’t know anything. Trust me.
2: Have a plan. Military tactics work because there is no room for movement or negotiation. Having a plan day by day will get you organised to within an inch of your life.
3: Start packing as early as possible. Even if you start packing the day that you start ‘thinking’ about moving, it will still not be soon enough. Take a look around your house… How much crap do you have? Trust me… it will take longer than you think.
4: Those pieces of paper you were keeping just in case… get rid of them. Those shoes you haven’t worn in two years, give them to a friend. The basic rule of thumb is if you haven’t used it in the last 18 months, get rid.
5: Split your entire house into TWO piles. Yes, two piles. Things you have to move with and things you know you can move without. Those fishing rods are essential yes, but the small box of half-eaten maggots? They really do not need to be re-homed with you.
Now, boxes are the most important aspect of moving house. All too often I have seen people try to pack all their books into the biggest box they have. Come on now, people… Logically, how do you expect to shift that box? Heavy objects need to be put in smaller sturdy boxes. The larger boxes can be used for lighter objects, clothes, linen or stuffed toys. Trust me when I say that when it comes to moving you are better off with a hundred smaller boxes rather than 50 massive ones. The likelihood of them splitting and distributing all of your earthly possessions all over the back of a removals van is much smaller.
Mark each box with your family name and address of the new house. I know this might seem a little over the top, but do you know how many times I have heard people say ‘how can you lose a box between one house and another?’. It happens. If you mark your name and address on each box, it is much more likely to find its way back to you.
Write a list for each box. When you are packing, have a piece of paper and pen next to you and write down all the important stuff contained in that box. Place it right at the top before you seal it. Then, when you get to the new house and you can’t remember what box that bike pump went into, you can glance at the list on top and know exactly where it is. This is a life and time saving tip.
Number each box – and note at the end how many boxes you have. Again, trust me, boxes go missing! Have a checklist of your own, what number box goes in which room. That way you can give the list to the removals people and they know where each box is going in the new house. Saves you having to open each box, figure out where they are going and lug them up 15 flights of stairs yourself! Leave the hard work to the professionals, and as long as you are super organised you will be able to sit back and watch the masters at work.
Essentials – For anything you know you will need on the first day in your new home, pack it in a clear plastic box. That way you can see everything you need quickly and easily.
Bubble Wrap Vs Paper
You WILL need both. Anything that is even remotely breakable needs to be wrapped. Personally I suggest investing in proper packing paper, because wrapping your plates in newspaper will only leave black ink marks over everything which means having to re-wash everything at the other side. Packing paper is clean and efficient and if you make sure you unwrap things properly the other side you can keep the paper all nice and neatly stacked until your next move!
Bubble wrap is essential for pictures, decorations and anything glass. It’s an investment worth making.
Padding – When packing anything small or breakable, pad the bottom and sides of the box with a towel or sheet – it creates a buffer and soft landing just in case the boxes are bumped during transit
Electronics and Cables
Don’t leave it until you get to the new house to untangle all those wires. Do it now. Then you start afresh in your new home. Pack all cables and wires together – for instance, pack all the TV cables together in a clear plastic bag and label the bag as to what it is and what equipment it goes with. Setting up your electronics the other side will be much easier and quicker.
The best tips I can give when it comes to clothes are as follows:
1: Try and invest in some upright wardrobe boxes. They are long and narrow and some even come with built in clothes rails.
2:Pack on the hangers where possible!
If your clothes are already clean and ironed, why would you want to take them all off the hangers, fold and crease them, only to have to iron them again at the other side. Lay clothes flat in long boxes still on the hangers if possible, or uses boxes with a rail included. It may mean using a few more boxes, but will save you time in the long run. That way you pick them up out of the box and hang them straight in your new closet. Another good tip from a fellow army brat was to take a bunch of clothes hangers together and wrap bubble wrap or cling wrap around the clothes to keep them together during transit. That way you just slip it off and hang them up! So much easier!
MOVING CHECK LIST
*Start with the closets/wardrobes. These tiny mini hell-holes contain more crap in them then you will ever imagine. Dresses that haven’t fitted since before you had kids. Children’s T-shirts covered in paint and bleach stains. Use this as an excuse to cull your wardrobe.
*Pack everything you know you will not wear in the next 3 months. If it’s summer, do you really need that winter fur coat? No? Pack it!
*Pack the linen closet next. You do not need 10 changes of bedding, you can wash and dry the same sets. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing an empty linen cupboard – and once you tape up that box, you will already know in your head that technically you are one room down!
*Bathrooms next. Yes I am aware that this is not necessarily logical – but just like the linen cupboard, you don’t need everything in there. Keep out the essentials. The stuff you would take with you if you were going away for a weekend. Everything else can go in a box.
One important tip: Take the lids off half-used bottles and place clingfilm over the top before replacing the cap. This ensures less spillage.
*Books/Book Shelves. Keep out a few of the kid’s fave books if need be, the rest can go away. These boxes will be among the heaviest in your house, and books tend to take up the most space in a home. So get them in a box and forget about them. However, like in point 4 above – are ALL those books necessary? If there are any you can donate or give away then this is the time to do it. The same goes for DVDs and CDs if you still have them. There is this great little app called Spotify! Get it, it will be your best friend and companion during your packing days and you don’t need to keep bulky CDs.
* Decorations and nick nacks. This is when your home will really start feeling bare, but don’t panic, that’s a good thing. Packing up the decorations and small trinkets in your house will take time, but once they are all wrapped up and boxed away you will start feeling a real sense of accomplishment. The house is starting to empty and you can glimpse the light at the end of the tunnel.
*Do you have a Garage or Attic? If so this is when it needs to be tackled. This task is best done over a weekend, and this is generally where the men in the household take over because let’s face it, these rooms are generally the Man Caves and you have no idea what is in there and most of the time you don’t want to know. Let them go at it. Give them a few boxes and rolls of tape and put a limit on how much they are allowed to bring with them.
* Toys. Oh lord, this is gonna be fun, so prepare yourself. This task is generally best done when your children are at school – because what they can’t see can’t hurt them. You know yourself deep down what they play with and what has been left to fester in the bottom of the toy box for years. Be brutal. Christmas and Birthdays are only ever just around the corner. Donate to children’s charities or to a local nursery if need be, but at the beginning of this task, set yourself a certain number of boxes and stick to it. You will thank me later.
*Kitchen. Now this is a biggie, with a lot of “rules” to how best how to tackle it. So listen up. The kitchen is one of the last places you should pack and for good reason. You need to be super strict with yourself. Leave out only what you will need in the last week in your home, and pack the rest. Halfway through you will think ‘but I might want to bake a loaf of bread so I will just leave the bread machine out’. Don’t do it. Trust me, you will not bake that bread and if you are in real need of bread you will go out and buy it. Plan your week ahead. Know what you will likely be eating and pack all the stuff you know you will not need.
Leave out the bare essentials, and to make life easier, have them in an open box in the kitchen, that way it’s ‘semi’ packed, you know how much you have and you can empty the cupboards completely to clean them.
Glasses. A good tip when packing glasses or kitchen breakables is to use socks to pad the inside and stems of glasses etc. It also ensures you know where all your socks are when you get to the other side
Last and final tip…
BUY A BOTTLE OF FIZZ
Packing and moving house will not last forever. Stay positive because at the end of it you will have a brand new house, new memories to make and an exciting adventure ahead. So buy a bottle of bubbles and keep it chilled and make sure the first thing you do when you walk through the door of your new home is crack it open. You deserve it.