moving (+DOWNSIZING) made simple

Moving Made Simple: How to Create a Stress-Free Move Day

by Margit Novack, Founding President of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM). The following article, Moving Made Simple: How to Create a Stress-Free Move Day, originally appeared on Gilbert Guide and is re-printed courtesy of Gilbert Guide, Inc. Copyright © 2009, Gilbert Guide, Inc.

On the lists of stress-inducing events, moving is usually one of the highest, with move day being the climax. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are two categories of needs that occur during move day. The first encompasses transactional needs, the types of activities that you find on checklists. The second category comprises emotional need. Finding solutions for emotional needs is often more complex. By planning and anticipating both types of needs, you can reduce stress on move day and create a smooth, positive experience.

What’s the secret to planning and implementing stress-free moves? Start with the big picture; everything else is small stuff.

Be a Traffic Cop

Moving day often makes people feel like they are the hub of a wheel, with spokes coming at them from all directions. Move-day planning can help. Develop a floor plan and post it on the front door of your new home so movers can place furniture without constantly having to ask you questions. Take photographs of how items are arranged in china closets and on shelves so other people can help with unpacking. Use Do Not Pack and Open Me First checklists to keep track of things you'll need the night before and day of moving. Delegating to others doesn’t mean that you are not in charge; it means that you have selected things that others can accomplish, and you can concentrate on tasks that only you can do.

Unpack Strategically

A second key to a stress-free move day is doing “first-things” first. That means focusing efforts on tasks that must be done in order for you to stay overnight in your new home; things like setting up the bedroom, making your bed, unpacking toiletries and setting up lamps so you have light. Don’t tackle the china closets, kitchen and office until after the bedroom is set up.

Tip #1: Unpack the bedroom first so you won’t be in the movers’ way when they unload additional furniture.

Tip #2: Ask the mover to load your bedroom furniture and clothing last, so it comes off the truck first.

Tip #3: Focus on one room at a time and get it completely settled before moving on. This way you’ll have space that is organized and carton-free, even if other rooms still need to be unpacked.

Prioritize Yourself

The most important need, however, is taking care of yourself. This means stopping work at a reasonable hour—say six in the evening—before you exhaust yourself or hurt your back. Plan on a casual meal out, come back to your unpacked and organized bedroom, and go to bed. The cartons that remain will be there for you the next day, or the day after that.

Give yourself permission to not accomplish everything at once. Patience and understanding go a long way in reducing stress. Recognize that your spouse’s bad mood is not about you; it’s about how he is feeling. Stress can affect memory too, so don’t panic if you can’t remember your new phone number or your daughter’s address; you’ll be fine next week. Lastly, give yourself time to feel at home. You have probably spent months preparing for and anticipating your move; move day can seem disappointing or anticlimactic. The best part about move day is, it ends, and then you are ready to start life in your new home.

Helpful Hints

Create a Do Not Pack area the day before the move for everything you are likely to need the next day. Include items from three categories:

  1. Clothing, towels and toiletries
  2. Personal items such as keys, wallet, checkbook, cell phone (and charger) and all prescription medication
  3. Miscellaneous items which are easily lost, such as the TV remote and the key to the china closet

Make an Open Me First box for items such as towels and bedding, telephones, clock radio, toilet paper, trash bags, snack food, paper plates and a coffee or tea pot (plus filters!).

Surfing Suggestions

If you’d like more suggestions on how to ease the moving process, visit the National Association of Senior Move Mangers (NASMM).