Strategies for Unpacking After a Move

Research shows that moving is one of the most stressful events in the average person’s life. In fact, it’s considered more stressful than a divorce. But it doesn’t have to be. If you plan ahead, you can tackle the most stressful aspects of a move head-on and avoid many of the issues that so often ensnare people.Unpacking

One such issue is unpacking. 

8 Tips to Help You Unpack and Settle In 

When it comes to a big move, there’s always talk about packing up your current house and moving everything into the new place. However, there’s very little discussion about unpacking –which is arguably more challenging and time-consuming.

If you want to settle into your new place quicker and enjoy the security of having an orderly home, you need an unpacking plan. Here are a few helpful tips that you may find useful: 

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Pack the Right Way 

You can make your job a whole lot easier if you’re smart and strategic about how you pack up prior to the move. An orderly labeling system will go a long way in helping you streamline the process.

One of the best ways to handle a move is to create a rough, hand-drawn floor plan of the new place. Each room is then assigned a color – red, blue, green, etc. As you pack up your items, each box gets a large color-coded sticker and a number. The color tells you where to unload the box/item. The number corresponds with a spreadsheet that lists off what’s included in each box. This enables you to quickly organize boxes and locate individual items without having to tear open every box in the room. 

Clean the House 

Prior to unpacking, take the time to conduct a deep clean of the new place. This includes surfaces, floors, bathrooms, the insides of drawers and cabinets, baseboards, etc. If you’d rather not, you can always hire professional cleaners to come in and do the work for you.

It’s much easier to clean a house when it’s empty. You don’t have to move boxes and furniture or clean around anything. You’ll save hours of time and start your move-in with a clean slate. 

Unload With Purpose 

Resist the temptation to cut corners when unloading moving trucks and vans. Try to place every single box or piece of furniture as close to its final destination as possible. You should unload as much stuff from the trucks as you can before starting the unpacking process. This allows you to take inventory of everything and do it right the first time. 

Set a Deadline 

It’s hard to accomplish a big task when there’s no end in sight. By establishing a meaningful deadline, you can avoid procrastinating and finish unpacking sooner.

It’s best if you pick a specific deadline that has something attached to it. For example, you might set a housewarming party to meet the new neighbors in two weeks. Because you’ll want your house to look good, you’ll work hard to get everything done in time. 

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Start With the Essentials 

Unpacking – particularly if it’s a large move – is all about prioritizing. With a thousand tasks on your to-do list, you need to know where to begin. The best rule of thumb is to start with the essentials you’ll need within the first 48 to 72 hours.

The kitchen is the natural starting point. You’ll want to unpack utensils, pots and pans, dishware, silverware, and anything else you need to begin cooking and eating. Bedrooms typically come first, with an emphasis on children’s bedrooms (if applicable). Bathrooms and home offices generally follow. Everything else can be addressed later on.

Focus on Progress 

The key is to make steady, incremental progress. You want to avoid getting overwhelmed or discouraged. This is why it’s helpful to move room by room. Each time you finish unpacking a room, you feel a momentary boost. It’s a mini accomplishment that you can hang your hat on.

If you have older children, encourage them to unpack their own rooms. Give them a checklist to follow and ask them to report back to you when they’re finished. This takes some of the burden off of you and allows them to feel like they’re a part of the progress that’s being made. 

Make it Fun 

Who says unpacking has to be a bore? The more fun you make it, the less stressful and frustrating it’ll be. Here are some ideas:

  • Sync up your Bluetooth speakers and play music throughout the house. Go for upbeat music that everyone will enjoy.
  • Put in your headphones and listen to an audiobook or podcast. Find one that’s so enthralling, it makes you forget about the repetitive tasks you’re performing.
  • Make a competition out of unpacking. Reward family members who perform the best in different categories. (Speed should not be the only metric. You want to encourage quality of work over quantity.)
  • Invite over your best friends and order pizza and beer for everyone. You’ll have a lot more fun when your crew is there to support you. 

Don’t Strive for Perfection 

Unpacking can be tough on a perfectionist. You want every aspect of every room to look as if you’ve been moved in for a while. But here’s the truth: You’ll make a lot of changes over the next few months. You don’t have to get everything perfect on the first weekend. Set your belongings up how you want them, but don’t worry if there are blank walls or mismatching pillows. You’ll have plenty of time to make the necessary tweaks and adjustments after life slows down a bit.