So, this is a thing that's happening: our family is moving to a smaller house and (much) smaller yard. I suppose the seeds of this idea were planted about a year ago when we let the large, unused, somewhat warped/rotted playset in our backyard go. Our kids (now 16 and almost-13) hadn’t so much as tapped a swing in months, and climbing the rickety steps to the “clubhouse” lost its allure long before. Suddenly the whole backyard space seemed incredibly vast, and frankly, a waste.
We have some wasted space inside, as well. The two-story open concept family room seemed so attractive when we moved from a much smaller home in California twelve years ago (not to mention the HUGE bonus room over the garage). But with the kids-going-to-college years getting much closer in range, we know we don’t need all of it. A school rezoning, aging dogs, and other factors contributed to making the idea of a move more and more attractive. So how do the organizer and her family execute a local move? I decided a series of posts would not only help me reflect and keep my sanity, but it might inspire readers in their own moving adventures (and of course, I would love to hear about any tips or ideas that have worked for you).
This first post focuses on planning and execution, starting with the house we need to sell.
We are not strangers to moving. My husband and I have moved a total of five times (3 cross-country) in our married life, and in fact, this most recent house has been our longest stint in one place. Twelve years makes for a LOT of stuff in closets and cabinets. I knew this, of course, intellectually. I have assisted countless clients to cull through the accumulation from 10, 20, or even 30 years in a home - not to mention going through my father’s house to prep it for sale last year. Should be a piece of cake for me, right?
In many ways, yes. I certainly know how to approach organizing for a move, and I know it always takes more time than we estimate. I also think as a family we’ve been pretty decent about getting the outgrown, unused, or unloved items out of the house on a regular basis. I do try to walk my talk.
Still, as I opened closets and drawers with my objective “PO" eye, I was surprised by the volume and sometimes sheer ridiculousness of what we’ve retained. I uncovered excess strings of holiday lights that I kept thinking would be placed on the holly bushes every December (we’ve been lucky to get a wreath on the door). We found the empty Lego set boxes I hid away for secret disposal when the younger version of our son insisted they had to be kept (we both forgot about them). The ashes of a dearly departed, cremated pet that we never could figure out where to scatter (long story there) turned up on a high, rarely-accessed shelf. While most experts agree that a home sells better if furniture is still in it, any excess clutter, particularly personal stuff, is a no-no.
So how do I get a grip on what to tackle first, and when, and with what resources? A regular task list wasn’t going to cut it for me. No, what is called for in this situation is…
A spreadsheet (cue the angel chorus). Behold, the Skillen Manor Master Move Plan (just the first few rooms - I didn't want to bore you with the whole house):
Extreme? Not for me. I walked from the garage end of the house and worked my way through everything I could think of that needed to be addressed in order, finishing with my husband’s office. I felt (and still do feel) so much better having gotten it all out of my head and into some workable format. It is an evolving document, of course, and we have tended to hop from task to task in various rooms at different times. Hey, why not tackle the t-shirt collection after dinner? Or organize books at 5:30 am? Regardless of the order of operations, being able to refer to the spreadsheet has kept us all on more or less on track as each weekend for the past four weeks we’ve been attacking the rooms.
Other things that have helped:
Our saga continues, but hopefully this gives you an idea of some ways to get started if you’re contemplating a move. For those of you who have moved, what ideas, tips, or methods got you through the initial preparation phase? Have you used a stager or a professional organizer to help you get ready? Share with us below, and stayed tuned for the next installment...
Sara Skillen - I'm a Certified Professional Organizer®, wife and mom, and serial list-maker. I'm also an Evernote Certified Consultant. I love to help people from all walks of life get organized and productive - and I'd love to help you, too:
Content copyright 2013-2017, SkillSet Organizing. All rights reserved. SkillSet Organizing is a division of SkillSet Enterprises, LLC.