3 Things I Wish I Did on Moving Day

Back To School

This photo was *not* taken on moving day and, in fact, I have zero photos from moving day so I thought I’d balance the memories of the exhaustion whilst typing this out with a more serene photo!

We moved at the end of June and I cannot believe it’s been just over 1 month that we’ve lived in the new house. So many things happened in the month of July, and all of them were wonderful things, but honestly, I can barely remember details from those first few days of living here.

In order to provide a little help if you are embarking on a move soon, I thought I would share 3 things that I wish I did on moving day to make everything go more smoothly.

One. I wish I had brought paper, markers, and tape to the new house and labeled each room. I figured I would just stand at the door and tell the movers where certain furniture would go, but that was more difficult than I had anticipated. Our move ran longer than expected so I was scrambling to unpack a few of the essentials at 11:00pm and didn’t want to stand at the door and make a decision about where a rug would go. I ended up ripping the paper from an old appliance manual and scribbling out the kids’ names on the scraps. I taped them to the door frames with used tape that I had ripped off a box.

Two. I wish I had stocked the bathrooms with tissues, trash cans, and toilet paper. The movers and my family could have saved some time instead of trying to track down some bathroom essentials if I had stocked them before the move!

Three. I wish I had arranged more childcare. I did have a sitter for most of the day, but at 3:00pm she needed to leave and I had to wrangle the kids while trying to also be available for the movers if they had questions. It was not pretty. And the thing is, David and Luke were fine. It really was more Emily who needed the attention. Part of that is her age as a 14-month-old, and the other part is that we didn’t have any gates up and all of the exterior doors were wide open for movers so danger was imminent. And when I say danger, I mean falling in the pool, or down the steps, or walking right out into the street. So I needed to keep the kids contained in a room with the door closed or go back to the other house where there WERE gates installed and let Emily be free. If I had to do it over, I would have tried harder to get additional childcare for the second half of the day. As much as I accomplished prior to moving day, there was still a lot of work left for the actual day of moving, and it left me feeling completely overwhelmed and exhausted.

A lot of our move was made easier by the fact that we stayed in the same city and hadn’t yet sold our previous home, but moving day nonetheless was still a very long and exhausting day! All that being said, it feels like a dream come true to live in this home and I’m very happy to be here.

photo by Jordan Maunder


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Kathy says · 07.31.19

This is great advice! Thank you so much!!! How is the sale of the old house going?

Kate says · 07.31.19

It is under contract!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog says · 07.31.19

Thank you for sharing your experience! I guess we all learn from our mistakes. 🙂

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

Colleen Hodge says · 07.31.19

We have moved quite a bit and with three children it can be challenging. What I learned is to pack your car seperate from the moving truck with a bedding box for all the beds, so when the movers or yourselves put together beds you are not searching for sheets and pillows late at night when you are tired. Same with a small essential kitchen box -mine had the coffee maker in it and couple of glasses forks and knives,bowls. Have a bathroom box with TP, toothbrushes,toothpaste, bodywash. Put a scissor in your pocketbook, you will need it right away. Have the number for a good pizza place that delivers!

Kate says · 07.31.19

Great idea!

Aileen says · 07.31.19

I would add also, have a small bag or backpack for each person with items that CANNOT get lost (medication, stuffies they can’t sleep without, whatever it may be) and put those in your car, not the moving truck. If you can get to the new house ahead of time, stock the fridge with drinks and snacks. If you can’t, pack a few things in a cooler in your car.

Kate says · 07.31.19

That is a great idea, thank you for sharing!

Caren says · 08.01.19

My husband and I have moved six times and boy do I wish I’d thought of these before we landed in our current (likely “forever” or at least very long term) home! Each and every time I’ve had the same thought about directing the movers towards the correct room and each and every time they were so efficient that I completely lost control of that plan, haha!

Andreas Koniotis says · 08.01.19

Hi your article was indeed refreshing. I am a mover and I know we do arrange two of the three things you mentioned… toilet paper and soap (we learned from experience that one), markers and stickers to label the rooms before starting to move things in.

We don’t do childcare 🙂 but now that you have mentioned that I will try and find some alternatives for my clients on moving day.

Thank you for the inspiration on that one.

Janet Newhall says · 08.01.19

You poor thing! Moving day is never fun, no matter how much you plan, so don’t be too hard on yourself, hahaha. But for any readers working on a move, the absolute coolest recommendation I followed in my most recent move was pre-labeled, color coded box labels with space to write important box contents. GAME CHANGER! I saw them recommended on a military spouse blog, bought a kit on Amazon, and will most definitely use them again! For example, all of my kitchen boxes had red “KITCHEN” labels with the most important contents written on a white box below the room name, including the last box we packed with “OPEN FIRST” written on it (I had an “OPEN FIRST” box for the bathroom, too). Sure made that end-of-moving-day “which box has the cups and trash bags?” easier. The movers loved them, too, since they knew exactly where every box went. As for childcare, we roped my retired MIL into making the trip with us, so we had built in, very loving childcare for moving day 🙂

Hilary says · 08.02.19

AH moving with littles is so tough! We just moved and my biggest tip is to see if you can overlap ownership of both houses. We had about a week where we owned the new house, but didn’t have to be out of our old house. We took many carloads to go ahead and stock the fridge, pantry, bathrooms, bring toiletries, etc. Moving day was just having movers take our furniture over. I was SO thankful to be able to take a hot shower that night with all my stuff! We also did it during the week, so we took off work but sent our baby to daycare today (childcare is so key!!).

Kacie M. says · 08.02.19

We also moved to a new house at the end of June, and hired movers to do the heavy lifting for most of the bigger stuff. I wish we would have packed more up in boxes, but my husband was adamant that we’d be able to get 95% of our stuff packed up the day before! Um, not true! *lol* I was glad I had pre-packed what I did, but wish we had done more for the movers to move instead of us over the next couple of days. We also were still in our old house when we moved, so we had the time and felt we didn’t have to rush to get everything out so soon.

I also wish I would have labeled rooms. I had the boxes labeled, but the movers didn’t really look at that… so I was still directing where to go, or just telling them to put whatever in the basement and we’d figure it out.

Luckily, our son was in daycare most of the days we moved but he stayed over at my parents house a couple nights. I made sure his room was one of the first put together so when he did come “home”, it looked familiar – although layout was different.

Glad you’ve settled in nicely… we have too, but still have a lot of boxes to unpack!

Heather says · 08.03.19

My recommendation is to pack a suitcase with overnight supplies – a change or two of clothes, PJs, and toiletries. Use a laundry basket to store bedding and a clean shower curtain. When you’ve moved and you’re looking at a sea of boxes, it’s much easier to find a suitcase and a laundry basket than an “open first” box. Now you can take a shower, get into clean clothes, and make your bed at the end of an exhausting day.

Jennifer says · 08.03.19

Color-code (strips of colored paper taped to two sides of each box so it doesn’t matter how the box is stacked) both the box labels and the signs on each room—no reading required for getting boxes in the right room. Then load the truck with the furthest room/most stairs as the first thing unloaded—by the end of the day, when you don’t want to walk one more step, the last boxes off the trick are coded for the rooms closest to the door.

Lili says · 08.03.19

Great tips! Especially the one about labeling all the rooms so the movers know where to put things. I hadn’t thought of that and also was planning on directing the movers verbally. Eeek! Bad plan! We are moving in a few weeks to a neighboring city in Northern VA and these tips are super helpful. I will be sure to arrange childcare for the whole day!

laura hughes says · 08.07.19

Thank you so much for this helpful hints – as we are moving in September, literally like 5 min away and same situation as you , our current house isn’t on the market yet – crazy how busy life gets when you are preparing to move and how anxious it is to get into the new place!

Brittany says · 08.15.19

Hey Kate!

Great advice! On a completely unrelated note, do you have any details on the chair you’re sitting in? I absolutely love it and have searched the internet for something similar but, no luck. So happy for your family being in the new house!

Lynn Conley says · 08.19.19

When we moved, every room had a different color of packing tape. So all the boxes that pertained to those rooms were taped with the corresponding color. Then I hung up signs in the rooms with the color on it. Yellow for kitchen, green for my son’s room, blue for bathroom, etc. It was incredibly helpful, and the movers were very grateful. They said it was nice to just unpack and not have to ask repeatedly where things went.

Gerry says · 01.28.20

We saw USA last summer, it was overall quite an interesting experience. Quite a bit different from my previous experience in Dubai! Appreciate the infortmation about moving day life. Travel day is my moving day!

Sandy says · 05.31.20

We are getting ready to move and have a 21 month old. Would you suggest a sitter come to the house when movers are loading the truck or have your child go to the sitters house instead and same at the new home when unloading?