Moving In – Day One
Muddling Through

Moving In – Day Two: Unpacking

category_bug_journal2.gif Even though I marked boxes reasonably well as I was packing (except, what the hell does miscellaneous mean?), there was no focus to my unpacking yesterday. Some bedroom linens here, bath there, a few clothes, personal and office files.

There is no way to store anything in the kitchen until the boxes are out of the room. You'd think I would empty those first. But no, I wandered about opening cartons at random and pulled out only the few kitchen things I need to minimally function.

It's important to make good choices about where to store things because they will probably stay in that drawer or cupboard or closet forever. If the location ends up being inconvenient, it will always be annoying. And if you're like me and later decide that the candle holders, for example, should be in a different place, you'll forget where you moved them to. More annoyance.

So some moderately serious thought needs to go into unpacking.

The part I dislike most is breaking down boxes, taping a few together and hauling them – a bit of a hike when you're dragging a lot of cardboard – to the recycling bins. So I let it go until it was impossible to move around the apartment without squeezing around them.

I bought a box of 16 large trash bags to dispose of packing paper and finished those off before mid-afternoon. But all that paper is worth it; so far, nothing is broken.

Random as the day was, a lot of boxes got emptied. But speaking of annoying, I still can't find a single waste basket or any of the three little stools I have to help me reach top shelves. Maybe that's what I think “miscellaneous” is. I'll try those boxes first today.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Vagabonde: Recollection of a Special Kiss


We all have good intentions with labeling when we pack to move, but expediency always gets the better of us. Miscellaneous should be outlawed when packing!!

I still have a couple of boxes I haven't unpacked from when I last moved (23 years ago).

I hadn't moved for 29 years when I moved six years ago. I was lucky that a colleague suggested labeling boxes by room. I was giving them cute names: "sentimental treasures," for example. Worse than miscellaneous! And, like almost anybody who's ever boxed-n-moved, I still have boxes I haven't opened.

I dunno, for me that randomness is what I do when I don't quite know where to start. I think maybe it's a way of picking the low-hanging fruit and getting it out of the way, while your subconscious works to make a plan. I try to let my subconscious do as much work as possible; it's often much smarter than my conscious part!

It sounds like a LOT of work but also kind of like unwrapping a present as you create a new life for yourself.

Don't blame yourself. This all sounds way too familiar.

Most of us start the packing process by being organized and logical. Somewhere, lack of time enters the picture and all efforts to do the job right fly out the window. That's when the coffee pot ends up in the bedroom box because it's the last thing you packed and there wasn't room in the kitchen box. And so it goes.

It will all get sorted out eventually.

I got rid of my packing boxes by finding someone who was moving and giving them away. They were so grateful because those things cost a small fortune and they were happy to pick them up.

When we moved into this house years ago I decided that a small kitchen drawer would be my miscellaneous place.

My son, Jerry, was about 7 when we moved in and he gave his Dad a C-Clamp for Christmas that year.

Sometime in the Summer he innocently asked me "Mom, is this the Junk drawer?"
I said, "I suppose you could call it that, Jerry." He immediately burst into tears and cried," If that's the junk drawer ,why is Dad's good C-Clamp in there?"

Needless to say, we had no good answer for him. Be careful where you unpack things, Folks, and be doubly careful what you name your miscellaneous drawer.

Ronni, when you were packing, I didn't share my system because I was afraid we were bombarding you with too much "advice." However, this really works, is low-tech, and is not hard:

1) Get or draw a floor plan of the DESTINATION house. Make several copies. Assign each room in the DESTINATION house a color. ("Red" = kitchen, "green" = bedroom, etc.)

2) Buy a packet of colored dots and a small notebook at an office supply store. Stick the appropriate colored dots on the paper floor plans of the destination place...a red one on the kitchen, and so forth.

3) In the small notebook, also stick a dot to match the appropriate destination room colors every three or four pages. This will become your personal inventory and stays with you at all times.

4) When you finish packing a box, seal it, then immediately stick the destination color dot in two places--one on top and one on a random side. Write the same number on both dots. Your first bedroom box would be Green 1, for example. Then in your notebook, turn to the page with the green dot and write "1 - spare winter blankets."

5) Repeat 200-plus times as you pack up the whole house.

6) Make sure you keep the notebook AND the color-coded destination floor plans with you the entire move.

7) When you arrive at the destination house, post the color-coded floor plans at the entrance to each room.

8) When the movers arrive to unload, they will laugh out loud at this system for approximately 1 minute, then be blessing you for the next three hours. Your stuff will end up stacked in approximately the place it will be unpacked. They also don't have to keep asking you "where do you want this, lady?" which speeds things up considerably.

9) If you need a blanket, for example, consult your list, go the Green area, open box 1, and voila!

I have moved a 20,000 square foot factory and a 1,600 square foot office this way, as well as our household at least six times. Never fails to lower the stress and chaos levels.

I keep emphasizing the DESTINATION part because, alas, our old spaces exist only in memory once the packing starts. What matters is the future.

I'm sorry now I didn't write this lengthy post at the move's commencement, but I did think we (that includes me) were burying you in well-meant but overwhelming "help."

And look how well you've done! Now that you're in Lake Oswego, you are going to be staying put, so you don't especially need to know this anyway, but if any of the other readers are moving, try this system, and you'll be converted.

Incidentally, in our family, it's my workaholic husband who's the move-instigator, not me. Part of the reason I devised this system was to reduce the sharp pain of enormously draining moves I didn't want to make. And it worked. But it can also be construed as a really positive aspect of being single and making your own decisions. Just sayin'.

Your new house looks really nice in the photos, and I can only sympathize with the moving stress -- at both ends. I hope I never have to do it again. Perhaps you can stay put now. I am eager to know how you readjust to living on the left coast.

Take it easy. That is after you find the important stuff.

How about a nice cup of tea and a long walk by the lake.

Refresh your mind and spirit.

When you find the box with the silly hat (who doesn't own a hat that looks silly when worn with casual wear?), you might consider putting it on and wear it as you proceed to unpack. It will remind you that this is supposed to be fun. Ollie will find this interesting, too, no doubt!

We no sooner moved in when our youngest son's fiancee came to stay for two weeks. After some days I did manage to find the frying pan but for days I haden't a clue. It was in a kitchen box and how I could bypass it was beyond me. Must have been all of a do-da with the move and having a house guest right off the bat. A memory now and I'm sure only I have it.

Very helpful, Paula. I'll do that if I move again.

Ronni, it sounds as if you're doing OK with this. At least you don't have to rush now and can think about where to place things. Thank you for the photos. It's good to see your new place take shape.

Come to think of it, I might still have a couple of unpacked boxes sitting in my basement, from some twelve years ago. I hardly go down there, except to get a suitcase before a trip.
I hated the packing much more than the unpacking, as unpacking means you're almost done.
Bon courage! And take it easy

What a hassle, but it made for a cute post.
Might want to check with your disposal Silverton that packing paper would go straight into the "comingled" bin that contains newspaper, wrapping paper, junk mail, foil, cans, plastic bottles.

ah well, no rush about it all. My boxes, seemingly eternally packed, do have room designations as well as general idea of items within. and yes, there are then those MISc boxes.

I can see you are more left brained than myself. i unpack onto shelves and into drawers any which way. just get it out of the boxes and into the open (in the appropriate room of course) and then later I go through and rearrange according to usage flow. For example, silverware in this drawer, hot mits in that to unpack. But later I may find it much more convenient to switch the drawers re: usage.

It sounds rather lovely to me any way you do it. you are creating your new storage container for the self as i now think of a living space. :D Very exciting. Met any of yr condo neighbors yet?

ps I read Paula's list of moving tips using color coding. not sure i could do all of that listing, however color coding is a great idea.

That definitely sounds like progress to me! And the photographs are lovely, it already looks *homey*. I hope you feel more settled soon!

i love what you're doing and writing. so familiar to me. never mind the tea. how about wine/scotch/beer and then a walk?
eline, oakdale

eline, oakdale, is good, but elaine, oakdale is better.

In 1972 I moved into this house head first with a husband and two small children. In 20--, I am going to move out of this house "head first" and will only have to pack one thing - ME. But of course Man plans and God who knows...just take it all in stride, Ronni and be glad YOU MADE IT!!!!! Looks nice!!!

The comments to this entry are closed.