Pa(ni)cking Tape


We did this thing where after months of puzzle pieces not fitting, months of googling things in frustration, we came down to a wire where Jack and I sat on our back deck and said “Ok, let’s.” And then I made a few calls and today we did a spit-shake, and now the calendar is smugly telling us, “Hello. You have two weeks to move. And you have to rent out your house.”

“This is out of left field!” a friend exclaimed, but it isn’t. Not really. For any of you who have dealt with weighing public schools and magnet schools and private schools and independent day schools and the mountain of paperwork that comes along with them, sometimes the most logical solution ends with “You know what? It comes with a big backyard.”

It’s a big change for us — new house, new school, new proximity to Whole Foods — and we’re simultaneously excited and panicked.

Pinterest is killing me, because when I look for “how to pack up the last several years of your lives and smoosh it into another location” it shows me lists like “What To Do Six Months Out, Four Months Out, Two Months Out.”

Listen, babe, I’ve got two weeks and a basement full of musical instruments and LEGOs. Give me the Fast Pass option. The Accelerated Route. Konmari, but a less zen, more frenetic Konmari.

“THANKS FOR SERVING ME ALL THESE YEARS!” I hastily thank my entire drawer of pretty office supplies I’ve never used as I dump it into a big donate pile.


There’s also the anxiety around being somewhere new. Will the other parents like us? Will the kids be kind? God, what if all their Spotify playlists only have techno and nothing else?

I moseyed across my front lawn barefoot last night, drink in hand, and stepped into my neighbor’s house to tell her the news. We have the best neighbors; will that streak of luck continue? Can I just … tromp into someone’s house barefoot? Pet their dog?

“So no more Neighborhood Pie Swap, huh?” my 16 year old pal slash babysitter asked.

Oh! The Neighborhood Pie Swap. We started this tradition a few years back. Every October, every year, everyone’s invited. You bring a pie, if you’d like. Jack bakes several pies — salted caramel apple, pumpkin, apple crumble; he steals first-prize ribbons from little old ladies all over town — and everyone hangs and drinks cider and hot chocolate and while we’re really the only ones our age with kids our age, our neighbors are lovely and conversation is casual and friendly we connect before we hole up in our homes for the winter, waving to each other when shoveling out from under three feet of snow.

“We brought home all our babies from the hospital here,” I cried in the living room last night, sentence structure not making sense but Jack somehow understanding all the same.

Sigh. Memories.

I know it’s all going to work out, and despite my moments of omg omg omg, I can more quickly get to a place of “It’ll be fiiiiiine. This is fiiiiine.” Regardless, seasoned moving veterans, I’ll take all of your advice. Currently, I’m sitting in the middle of my house staring at everything. My fourth grade artwork (that’s mine, not my children’s) is seriously judging me.

Will take your advice about renting out a house, too. I think this lit candle will really detract from the deck we do not speak of.

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  • Reply Meg June 15, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    We moved fivr times before my eldest turned six. We’ve self moved, paid someone to pack and move us, and done everything in between. If you can at all -Pay them to pack you. Seriously. Not fun to be taping boxes as some muscled man is knocking at your door with a waiting moving van. And if not, pack what you need for a week (clothes, etc); then throw Everything else in boxes. You can sort through as you unpack and figure out where everything goes or doesn’t go in the new place. And live off of freezee meals, takeout, and paper plates till your done – no one needs to do dishes at a time like this!

  • Reply Heidi June 15, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Definitely second the freezer meals and takeout!
    Assuming you’re doing all the packing yourself with maybe a few helpers and a truck on the day-of:
    Keep three piles in each room as you pack: trash, donate, not-my-decision-but-I-don’t-think-it-should-come-with-us.
    Pack yourself and each child a suitcase, like as if you were taking a 2 week vacation at a furnished condo (include a towel). Live out of that suitcase. Then pack up everything else in the room. EVERYTHING. Do not save things to pack later, just hit every single thing in that room until it’s done. Stack the finished boxes along a wall. Dismantle furniture if needed and “stack” all furniture along another wall. LABEL by room, unless you’re feeling uber on top of your time management, and then include a list of the box’s contents.
    If you have glass/breakables that you want to keep, pack them in bath and dish towels or those plastic grocery bags we all have a million of. If you have glass/breakables you DON’T want to keep and don’t want to trash, see if you can’t pawn them off on your neighbors (I like to offload as much breakable stuff pre-move as possible so I don’t have to transport it ANYwhere).
    If it is at all possible to move some stuff into the house before the end of this two weeks, stuff your more precious (PC, whisky), heavy (books), and/or awkward cargo (lamps) in the car and hike it over there by itself. Then grab dinner and bring it home (wasted time traveling minimized! also, don’t cook!).
    Those are the highlights on moving quickly. Personally, I would get the move done and the kids settled first, THEN focus on getting the old place spruced up to rent. Good Luck!! Can’t wait to hear about your new adventures in a new house!

  • Reply Virginie June 15, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    If I can give you ONE piece of advice, from my mom that moved ten times with three kids under 9:
    along with the week worth’s of clothes you packed on the side for every one, keep a set of sheets in a backpack. This way you won’t have to sleep on a bare mattress for the first three weeks, while you open every box looking for the linens you packed first, thinking “we don’t use these often”.

    Good luck!

  • Reply Cassandra Whiting June 15, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Good luck! Please tell me you took my advice on Facebook and you are moving to Provo, UT?! Bonus, I would totally help you unpack. And you can come over whenever, and we can chat. No dog, sadly.
    Honestly, the labeling the boxes. The room they go in, so you have things in a relative idea when you unpack and you have less moving around when you get there. Playlists of all your favorite pump up music while you pack. Absolutely no sappy music, you won’t be able to get anything done. You can listen to that on the drive to your new house, since you’ll be crying anyway.

  • Reply Katie Richards June 15, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    We made a similar move two summers ago and while it was crazy stressful, it was worth it! Our biggest advice for renting your house is to do some research and hire a property management company that will do background checks and advertising for the house before its rented and do the day to day management and emergency repairs. It’s well worth the small percentage of rent (usually 5-10%) to not have to worry about 4 AM calls on Christmas Eve because the furnace went out. Plus, they hand over paperwork come tax time that makes reporting income super simple

  • Reply Shelley b June 15, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    I am going through the same this week! We are buying and selling but every possible issue came up so I didn’t want to start back until I knew as certainly as possible (2 and 4 year old, ahem) that it was ACTUALLY happening so I didn’t start packing until last Saturday and we have to be out next Monday. So… A 3 bedroom house packed and moved completely in 8 days. My advice is enlist as much help as possible and just go with it. I throw things in boxes at this point.

  • Reply Laurie June 16, 2016 at 12:31 am

    Agree with the advice to splurge and have someone else pack. You can organize and weed out at the other end when you have more time.

    If you really don’t want to go that route, look into moving via pods. I had them leave a pod, I filled it up in a couple of days and then they took it to the new house where I emptied it over a few days. You aren’t under the gun with a truck. Actually, it was really helpful for staging my house. I could empty most of it but left a few pieces for staging. But I was selling so that isn’t something you need to do.

    My other moving “secret” (it’s not actually a secret) are the survival boxes. These are the boxes that you move to the new place yourself ahead of time. Pack some essentials, a couple sets of towels and sheets, toilet paper, your toiletries and especially soap, shampoo, and wash clothes for the showers you’ll need when you are sweaty and grubby from moving. Oh, and your pillows. Nothing like having your own pillows on the first night there.

    Go to Costco and get paper plates, cups, plastic silverware, and napkins/papertowels. Just make your life easier in a few ways while you can. If you really want to try to cook, the crock pot is your friend. It’s only one pot and you throw something in it and walk away for the day.

  • Reply Sarah June 16, 2016 at 7:20 am

    I’m loving the packing tips! We just moved last summer in whirlwind fashion and are doing it again next month 😱 Moving is hard and just makes me want to own whatever can fit in a backpack 😜 Good luck with everything!!

  • Reply Katie June 16, 2016 at 7:29 am

    My husband is in the Air Force so we’re fortunate enough to have our moves paid for, but the first couple of times we stubbornly did it ourselves because we were broke and could make a little extra cash that way. NOT WORTH IT. The last time we had the movers do it. We’d heard many nightmare stories, but our movers were amazing. They packed everything beautifully in labeled boxes and we saw it all again just a few days later. The only weird part was that they kept asking if they could use our bathroom while they were packing. Um… you just wrapped the penis-shaped cake pan I bought nine years ago for my friend’s bachelorette party up in brown paper without even a side-eye glance. Of course you can use the bathroom. Stop asking.

    Anyway. Find a reputable company and pay them whatever they want to do this for you. It’s just… the only way. You can deal with what you want to throw out while you UNpack. (Sounds counter-intuitive, but you’ll a) save a lot of time by not getting lost in nostalgia while you pack, and b) be more motivated to not pack away useless junk into your new home.) Good luck!!

  • Reply Sarah Richards June 16, 2016 at 8:39 am

    We’re preparing to move in October so I’ve been keeping an eye out for tips. This blog post was very helpful! http://ahomefordesign.com/Blogpost/v1le and I think I’m going to buy some of the packing tape on amazon that has the room printed on the tape. Good luck!!

  • Reply Kala M. June 16, 2016 at 10:03 am

    I’m right there with you. All month I’ve been saying we need to start packing. Our estimated closing date on our first house is June 30th. We probably aren’t moving in until a week or two after closing but still. We are two week’s out from closing and all I’ve done is purge my clothes. Aaahhh!! I’ve started bringing home boxes from work but I look around our apartment and think, “Where the Hell do we start? What should we pack first?” Good luck!

  • Reply Kaitlyn June 16, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Definitely label the boxes as best you can – if you’re moving yourselves (or having people help you), it helps prevent the confusion of bedroom boxes ending up in the pantry and your kitchen essentials in the upstairs bathroom. It also helps in the unpacking process as you go room to room to see where things should go.

    We also have a rental, and we have been renting it out ourselves for the last years. If you are doing the same, send me an email and I can send you our rental agreement and application if you don’t already have something. It’s really easy to do yourself, but I recommend a few things: 1) set up an LLC for the property to limit your liability, 2) pay someone to do background checks on potential renters. this has saved us more than once and it is invaluable IMO. Always go with your gut as well, you get a feeling from someone if you think they’ll take care of your property. 3) If you’re not within a 30-40 minute drive of the house that you’re renting, go through a property management company instead. It’ll be worth the amount of time and money you’ll save running back and forth to look to see if a leak is a catastrophe or just needs a $5 fix. Also, they’ll take care of the background checks and everything as well. If you’re close by though, I definitely recommend saving the money you’d spend on a PMC and just do it yourself, especially if you guys are handy enough to tackle basic repairs (and source your own contractors if needed).

    Hope that helps! Good luck, Roo!

  • Reply Aya June 16, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    I soooooo missed your storytelling posts in my life.
    Weirdly in the same boat as you- husband just got accepted to law school in a different city so we’re facing down packing up three kids and leaving the house where we brought them home from the hospital too. So much denial and inaction going on right now.
    So many feels :'(
    Wish you lots of luck and happiness!!!

  • Reply Danielle June 16, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Step One on move in day: put toilet paper in the bathroom. This has been my mom’s rule through MANY chaotic moves. Nuts as they were, not having toilet paper was never the thing that finally broke our frazzled minds :)

  • Reply Rachel June 17, 2016 at 6:07 am

    I have moved many, many times. At some points in my life I have had more moves than birthdays, that is never a good thing. However, at this point in my never-moving-again-ever life I can smile kindly and give you my top 3 tips for easy moving. 1) Write the room in the new place the stuff will be going to on the box and a number. In your packing notebook/clipboard/spreadsheet list what is in that box. Do this even when it seems obvious.
    2) Keep an essentials box for kettle, toilet roll, emergency chocolate that is the last to be packed/first to be unpacked and do not let it out your sight (or take it in your car, not the removal van.
    3) Once you arrive at the new house make up the beds first. There is nothing worse than wanting to collapse into bed and not having any sheets. Make. Up. The. Beds. Also, keep one room box free from the start. We kept our lounge box free, this gives you a space to go and feel calm and not like you are in a moving whirlwind.

    Good luck!

  • Reply Fariha June 19, 2016 at 5:47 am

    Roo, I feel your pain! I’ve done two international moves with kids under 3 so here are my tips:
    1. As everyone has said, pack some boxes to open as soon as you arrive w clothes, toiletries etc. it’s a real pain but sit down and make a totally exhaustive list of anything you will need in the first weeks and seperate that stuff. For e.g. you may not be cooking and using paper plates but you will probably still need a sharp knife and mugs for hot drinks right away etc, or you might need to include cleaning supplies in this category.
    2. If you can bear to, book an affordable hotel room for the night before moving day. That way you can have every last thing (even bedding etc) packed before moving day, everyone gets a rest, it’s a bit of an adventure for the kids and you can have a nice hot breakfast together before you tackle moving day!

  • Reply Jess June 20, 2016 at 8:54 am

    As someone who has moved around a lot my advice is do one room at a time, it will seem less overwhelming and also embrace the opportunity to cut down on the stuff that’s been hiding in drawers you didn’t even know you owned. Pack one bag per person as if you were going away on holiday (if only) – this way you’ll have everything essential handy. Also look forward to the part where you unpack in the new place and gradually see it become yours, for me that is always getting the pictures and photo’s out.

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