(The proverbial~or not so proverbial~ pile of boxes under which I sit.)
Y'all! Blogland is so cool!
I've made many "friends" out there and this one, Mrs. Yellow Hat, has taken the cake. She's a military wife who has LOTS of experience in moving and she sent me her list of tips on how to pack and get ready for the movers! Enjoy!
I prefer to do a lot of prepping on my own. I have found that this has helped decrease damage; this last move, I think I had one or two things that were broken and they were minor- I didn't even claim them. The majority of damage (if there will be any) will be to your furniture. So the first thing you need to know is that they'll come through and tag everything. Next to that number on the inventory, they'll put a bunch of numbers or letters or a combination of both. The code is at the top or bottom of the inventory page. BEFORE you sign it or let them put anything on the truck, you need to have them show you what they've marked- it's in regards to any existing scratches, gouges, etc. on your furniture. We were in such a rush this last time that we didn't even think about this- the guy loaded it on the truck and then handed us the sheet; we had damage done to the bed which I KNOW was not there and we couldn't get repair funds on our claim because he had noted something on the bed. So let them know that they will be pulling everything off the truck if they don't let you go over the list before then. You can note on the inventory that you do not agree. Take photos if you must.
I like to put all my flatware in big bags. Then I don't have to wash it on the other end. If you can nest plastic ware inside something larger and put a lid on it, then that's less to wash when you unpack (at the least, I run everything through the dishwasher on a rinse cycle after unpacking).
Packers are instructed to move as they find it. So if you have a drawer that you just throw odds and ends in, they'll scoop it out and put it in a big sheet of paper and wrap it up. I go through and put everything in baggies or some type of sealed container- all pencils and pens together, small kitchen gadgets, puzzle pieces from the kids' puzzles, small toys, etc.
I also group like things together from around the house. For example, I take all of the books from all over the house and they all go in the office (except the kids' books) so that they all go in book boxes together. Again, they'll pack a room and just put whatever they see in a box to fill it up- sometimes it makes no sense at all, but they're trying to conserve boxes because it costs them less. I've had a drill put in a box with a lamp (unwrapped) and a decorative plate- the drill came through the move marvelously, but the others were broken.
I take all of the artwork off the walls and put it together in a laundry basket or against one wall where I can see them pack it right.
Don't be afraid to tell them you want something packed a certain way. For that matter, you can tell them not to cross-pack which means they should not go across the hall to another room to find something to fill up a box in another room. Tell them no unless they ask you- you'd have to tell them all this before they start packing. Don't be doing something else when they're packing- watch them, go from room to room and see what they're doing. Typically, they'll have someone who is really experienced and then a younger person that hasn't done this so much. Because it's during the school year, you may not have that scenario.
I wash all my linens and put them in one area.
I also have them give me a box that I can pack. I include towels, the things needed to make the beds, a new shower liner and rings, paper towels, and toilet paper. I label the box with some stickers or something bright and ask them to load it last so I can have that box right away and get beds set up- you'll be in boxes for days, so it's nice to know where that stuff is.
You can request hanging wardrobe boxes. You need to call the moving company and tell them you want them.
Collect all light bulbs from your lamps and wrap them up inside a Rubbermaid tub. Then use twist ties to wrap up the cord. Put all your shades together, nested, if possible. They'll write "top load only" or something like that so it doesn't go on the bottom of the stack.
Have all serial numbers off your electronics; take photos. Any cords that can be detached should be done by you as prep work and bagged and labeled. Hand carry them.
Same with any hardware for furniture. Tell them at the beginning that they may not take apart any piece of furniture unless you're watching. Take the hardware and bag it, label it, and hand carry it with you. You can give it to the movers on the other end. Otherwise, it's either lost or put into a box and you can't find it forever.
If you have any original boxes for items, put the item in the box and leave it open. Sometimes they add extra paper but they'll close it, and technically, they've packed it and are responsible for damage.
If you store things in large plastic tubs, make sure everything is well wrapped. They will move the tub as is. Sometimes they put paper around them so they get credit for it being a box, but usually they just tape them. Make sure they tape them at the least.
If you have nick-knacks that are breakable but don't have boxes, I would find a box and bubble wrap it. Put it with your china because they'll pack it in a dish pack which is a much thicker cardboard box used for breakable dishes.
Be aware that they will wrap small items in about 15 pieces of paper. When you unpack, go through EVERY single piece of paper so you don't inadvertently throw something away. That's why you need to wrap cords and hardware and small things in bags.
It has been known to happen that occasionally they will pack your trash. My friend's full diaper genie was packed and sat in storage for 6 weeks in the South (summer). The best way to beat that is to wash out all your trash cans and group them together. Just use bags hanging from the door or sitting in an old box.
Have soap and paper towels and extra toilet paper in the baths for them to use. It's a good move to offer cold drinks and a snack. We sometimes buy a pizza or subways for the packers. It is also a nice gesture to tip the ones loading or unloading.
If you want curtain rods to go with you, you need to take them down yourself.
They do not pack liquids. Or matches. Often times not candles- you may want to take those with you.
For transition times, I like to take a supply of my stand-by recipes, some small kitchen gadgets that "furnished" places never seem to have or have complete sets of (measuring cups, spoons,sharp knives), movies, some favorite small toys (depending on the type of move we're making- this one coming up is going to tax my creativity!!), some type of portable laundry hamper, your cleaning supplies, spices, etc. If you'll be in an apartment over the holidays, you may want to pull a few things out of your holiday box- stockings, for one. We have an advent calendar from Desiring God ministries that rolls up and fits in the suitcase. The kids love it and it makes them feel like it's a little piece of "normal."
One of the neat things about being in transition is that you have less to keep up with- you can explore the new area- the library's story time, other free activities, etc.and you'll find that you can really live on less.
You may want to have a special box of toys labeled so the girls can have that opened ASAP while they're unloading. It would keep them busy while you deal with the movers (or send them to a relatives house if you can!).
When they unload, they'll read off a number and you can tell them which room to put it in- you'll check off that spot on the inventory as the box or piece of furniture comes in the house. It helps to have the rooms labeled, but it's not necessary. Also, have paper towels, soap, and toilet paper in the baths.
If you have a filing cabinet, buy the file folder boxes and load those yourself. They'll either tape it up and label it or drop it in a larger box.
So do with it what you will, but I'm bookmarking this one.