Opportunity to Organize: Make the Most of Moving, Part 2

Declutter concept (keep, recycle, trash, sell, donate) handwriting on napkin isolated on white

It may be hard to decide what to part with while packing up a home, but you can declutter your life before moving into your new home.

Now that you understand how to properly move the contents of a house and how decluttering and organizing your household before a move can make the moving process less stressful, it’s time to look at packing strategies.

We revisit organizational expert, Trish Ethridge of moving company Hilldrup, to take a closer look at how to best pack each room of the home. We’ll finish up with additional decluttering advice from Ethridge that can be used anytime, not just when you’re moving.

Packing It All Up: Room-By-Room

The Kitchen

Ethridge notes that for most people, packing up the kitchen can be a daunting process. She recommends that anyone who does the cooking be involved in decluttering, organizing and packing the kitchen.

“The last thing you want to do is toss out something that your husband may only use once or twice a year, but that is crucial to his signature dish,” she says.

In general, though, if you don’t use it, let it go. Small kitchen appliances are examples of things that can go.

“Think about whether your life has changed. Do you entertain less than you used to? Maybe you don’t need to keep 24 wine glasses. Size your kitchen essentials right for your current needs,” says Ethridge.

The Bedrooms

Bedrooms keep pace with your current life, but they can still hold a lot of junk, especially if you have kids. “Moving is an excellent opportunity to teach kids how to let go of possessions that no longer fit their lives,” she says.

Involve your kids in sorting through clothes that are too small or toys that they no longer play with. This helps them learn to clean up and organize so they can have those skill sets as adults. Rituals can make it easier for kids to part with a beloved object. Take pictures of the items, brainstorm friends or family members who might love to have it and focus on the positive.

“Kids need to know that it’s okay to let go of things they no longer need and that they don’t need to keep everything forever.”

Ethridge suggests giving each child a “treasure trunk” into which they can put their most special treasures or mementos. Whatever fits in the trunk is fair game, but once the trunk is out of space, the child will have to make choices about what to keep and what to get rid of it they want to make more room in the trunk.

The Storage Areas

Basements, attics and garages are notorious for accumulating years’ worth of things that we just don’t need any longer. These rooms are the hardest to go through, so Ethridge suggests starting with the easiest things first.

“If you have boxes still packed and sealed from your prior move and that was more than a year ago, let them go,” she says. “You obviously don’t need the things inside of them.”

Organize and consolidate where you can. Old photos, for example, can be digitized. This saves space and protects the images from physical damages like mold or moisture. If your basement is full of old hobby supplies, ask yourself if you still pursue that hobby. If not, purge the supplies. Unfinished projects and broken items that you’ll “get around to” fixing also should be purged.

Additional Tips

Don’t become overzealous in your decluttering

“Items have meaning to people. If something is special to you or you just love it, even if you never use it, don’t feel like you have to get rid of it,” Ethridge says. “Keep the things that you love. You still want your new house to feel like a home and that may require keeping certain items around. Family heirlooms are a great example of this.”

Don’t keep things just because you think you should

On the other hand, don’t keep things just because they came from a family member. “If you have a bad memory associated with an item, why would you keep it and bring it to your new place? You’re bringing something that makes you feel bad into your sanctuary. Don’t feel bad about getting rid of these sorts of items. It’s okay.”

Don’t hold on to stuff for other people

“I see this so often. We tend to keep things we no longer need or use with the intention of giving it to someone else. … Set a deadline for the other person to come and pick up the items and if they don’t come, give them away, donate them or trash them.”

Use the process to generate fresh interests

This is especially common with sporting equipment. Maybe your current house does not have access to bike paths, but the new one does. If you think you’d like to explore those paths, then keep your bikes.

“Ask yourself what new opportunities will present themselves in your new location. What will you want to do in your new home? Keep items that you can truly see fitting in to your new lifestyle.”

A move is a terrific opportunity to evaluate your current situation and adjust your household items to meet your current needs. There simply isn’t a better time for “out with the old and in with the new” than when you are moving into your new home.
Sarah Kinbar is a freelance writer and editor for leading print and online publications. Formerly editor in chief of Garden Design, she has also written and edited for Cottage Living, Modern magazine and Orlando Arts. You can find her on Google+.

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