10 Important Lessons I’ve Learned About Packing and Moving

It’s that season. Summer. When everyone seems to be having fun floating the river, riding their bicycles, and chatting with their friends at outdoor cafes. Everyone except me, because I’m in the midst of yet another move.

I’ve moved a lot, so many times that I can’t count them anymore. Or at least I’m too tired to try. Thankfully, I have packing and moving down to a science. But I’m also still learning after all these years.

Here are 10 important lessons I’ve learned about packing and moving (in no particular order, because I’m already too frazzled to try to prioritize.)

photo1. The most important packing supply is not cardboard, tape, or a marker. It’s not even a bottle of good wine. It’s an icepack for your back at the end of each day.

2. There comes a point where sheer exhaustion leads to complete insomnia. The difficulty is figuring out where that point is. My advice: err on the side of self-care.

3. Cardboard and other forms of dust are bad for your skin, sinuses, and blogging routine. Wear gloves or a mask, use lotion liberally, and set up a humidifier during your snoozing time. Also, take blog breaks.

4. Spouses and pets should not be involved in, or witnesses to, the process. One offers unsolicited advice. The other worries too much. Or maybe they both do both. Perhaps consider boarding them somewhere.

5. Children (at least those over the age of diapers and training wheels) should absolutely be involved in the process. They can mitigate any guilt you might have about throwing out fifth grade science projects and/or reduce storage and moving costs from saving said projects. Also, they offer cheap physical labor…if you can track them down. Bribery might work.

6. Speaking of throwing things out, the older I get the easier it is to purge. In fact, there is documented evidence that purging can be highly therapeutic. Just don’t tell the pack rats in your family what you’ve discarded.

7. As you purge, it’s helpful to envision the garage sale you will have once you’re done packing, and all the happy little faces as young and old alike delight in the treasures they’ve found in your garage. It gives you comfort as you detach yourself from the memorabilia. Of course, by the time you’re done packing, you’ll be far too tired, achy, and grumpy to hold a garage sale and you’ll just donate it all to whatever charity will drive up in a big truck. (See #6 above.) The point here is that a little self-delusion is okay.

8. I realized after one too many moves that Murphy (of Murphy’s Law fame) was actually a nomadic woman who always found the camel’s missing bell after she’d packed up the animal’s food and water bowls, toys, and other bells and sealed the box or basket or whatever with wax or whatever they used back then. My advice: leave the boxes open until they’re completely full, or until you’re absolutely sure there couldn’t possibly be one wandering widget that needs to be packed in the box you’re about to seal.

9. You might think it’s a great idea to plan a party at the end of your packing project to say goodbye to your friends. It is indeed a grand idea, as long as you realize that by then you won’t be your normal self. You’ll be feeling tired, rusty, and perhaps even a little downtrodden.photo 3

10. Do not, under any circumstances, agree to pack and move when you are in the midst of a book launch, or when you’re aged mother is in the hospital, or when you have any other important family or business obligations. And if you do, for some reason, find yourself in this situation, see your doctor for a prescription for antidepressants. Even better: reduce the packing job down to one small carry-on, a good book, and your passport. Then head for the nearest airport and don’t look back.

Bonus lesson: Costco’s crates for apples and pears are great for collecting items you plan to sell at a garage sale (but ultimately will just giveaway). No need to use valuable sealing cartons when these boxes are sturdy, stackable, and completely free.

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