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Smooth moves: eight tips for moving

Friday 31 December 2010

CFIDS & Fibromyalgia Self-HelpFrom CFIDS & Fibromyalgia Self-Help:

Smooth Moves: Eight Tips for Moving

By Carole Jean

Note: Moving, like other non-routine events, can lead to serious relapses. Here are the strategies one person with severe FM/CFS uses to make a move successfully.

Since becoming ill in 2001, I've moved four times with the fifth coming up next spring. Each time, I've organized both paid and unpaid help, and done other things that made the difference between crashing for months or not.

For me, the keys to a successful move are:

1. Get Started Early and Do a Little at a Time

Saying "Get started early" is really just another way of saying "Pace yourself." If you give yourself enough time, you or your family only need to pack two or three boxes per day, stack them against the wall, then leave the packing alone until the next day. Over the course of a few weeks, it all gets done.

My husband and I start by doing a few trial runs to determine how long it takes to pack key areas: one shelf in the kitchen, one picture in the living room, one drawer in the bathroom, one closet in the spare room. From there, we can count the shelves, pictures, drawers, and closets in the house and come up with a pretty good estimate of how long it will take to pack each room.

Once we've tallied the total number of hours for packing, we put them into a schedule according to how much work we can reasonably do in a day. We add ample time for the unexpected (because unexpected things always come up), and we make sure to include frequent "down days" for bed rest and complete quiet. Then we book both paid and unpaid help.

Early on, we also schedule some extra cooking time or recruit some cooking help. We prepare meals that will be quick to heat up and put them in the freezer. You can go through a lot of money getting take-out, and could even suffer some health setbacks if purchased meals are not as nutritious as you need.

Once the schedule is set, my family and I stick to it. If we find ourselves falling behind, my husband picks up the slack or we delegate more work to our helpers. I continue pacing myself according to the schedule and my available energy. I've learned that overdoing is counterproductive. It ultimately triggers a crash that makes the move harder on everyone. For this reason, I treat pacing as my most important job-because it is.

2. Cull Unused Items

Use the move as an opportunity to reduce the number of things in your life. Sort your things into three piles: Keep, Donate and Toss.

To help you decide whether to keep an item or not, ask yourself two questions: Do I like it? Will I use it? If you can't answer "yes" to both questions, get rid of the item.

I grew up in a family that moved every three or four years, so I learned about culling when I was young. I realized it's not necessarily the things that are important but, rather, the memories attached to them. As a result, I've kept only a few of my most treasured family items. I took photos of others and got rid of the rest. I'm amazed at how light and free I feel once I've cleared my home of unused clutter.

3. Put Everything in Boxes or Bins

Packing as many things as possible in boxes or bins makes a move easier and less expensive because the movers are not carrying around loose bits of debris. They can stack boxes onto dollies and move a lot of stuff fast that way. Lamps, lampshades, electronics, pictures, clothing, toys, and anything small enough to go into a box should go into one-even if it's a big box.

4. Use Boxes and Bins of the Same Size

Wherever possible, using boxes and bins of the same size makes for easier packing, stacking, and moving. This practice has led several moving companies to comment that mine are among the most organized moves they've ever seen. I use special boxes for all my bone china and crystal, wardrobe boxes for clothing, picture boxes for framed art, and about 25 large, plastic bins purchased for about $8 each. The bins are rigid, so things don't get crushed, and they stack well because they're all the same size, which makes them very easy to move.

If you're looking for free boxes, you may be able to collect boxes from photocopy paper at work or ask your friends to bring home boxes from their workplaces. For some of my moves, we took home two or three boxes every day for weeks, and it made the move go smoothly because I had lots of boxes all the same size.

I also get free liquor boxes from the local liquor outlet. Liquor boxes that still have the dividers in them make wonderful time-savers. I pop drinking glasses, candlesticks, vases, and other slim items into the separate compartments. If the items aren't terribly fragile or if the box can be placed on the back seat of someone's car for transport, I don't even do much wrapping; the dividers protect things fairly well. I just make sure the compartments hold breakables snugly, so nothing rattles around and gets chipped or broken.

5. Label Each Box or Bin by Room

Mark boxes as "living room," "kitchen," "bedroom 1, bedroom 2, garage," etc. You can get color-coded labels at any moving company. If a box or bin gets left in the wrong room at your destination, color-coded labels make it easy to spot, so you can ask the movers to put it in the right room. Alternatively, use bold, colored markers to label things.

6. Use Quilts, Pillows, Blankets, and Towels as Packing Materials

Quilts, pillows, and blankets make great packing for lamps or that special vase that belonged to your grandmother. They also cut down on the amount of packing paper you need. To reduce packing materials even further and save time, too, you can leave dresser drawers packed-just make sure they're quite full and topped with a towel, so they don't slide open, and be sure the packed dresser isn't too heavy.

7. Get Help-As Much as You Can Find

Pay for whatever help you can afford, and recruit as much free help as possible from friends, family, even the teenager across the street. I've found that asking someone to help with discrete tasks makes the work relatively easy for them and for me.

For example, I have one nimble friend who has helped pack my kitchen twice. She is so tiny that she can actually get her shoulders right inside a lower cabinet, pull things out, and wipe the cabinet down. If I have the boxes all ready, we can usually pack the lower cupboards in about two hours. She's happy to give me an evening of her time, we have a great visit, and it saves me hours of difficulty.

8. Balance Activity and Rest

Alternate between activity and rest. The balance will be different for everyone, but here's what works for me. When I have a big task to complete, the best thing I can do is to lie down and watch a movie on television. I get up and work during the commercials and actually can keep going for several hours this way with no ill effects the next day.

I feel best later in the day, so I schedule my packing activities in the afternoon or early evening. It can be tempting to work late into the night, but I resist the temptation and stick to my regular bedtime routine. This means I must stop working by 9:00 p.m. and start winding down for bed. Too much activity late in the evening definitely means I won't sleep at all, and that will cause a crash the next day.


There's no question that moving can be fraught with pitfalls, and it's easy to trigger a crash that leaves me bed-ridden for months or even a year. However, these eight strategies really do help. I can now undertake a move relatively smoothly without paying a months-long price.

Related Articles

Illness and Housekeeping 
How one person with Fibromyalgia transformed clutter into order, including how she and her husband handled a move.

Travel and Other Special Events 
How to enjoy vacations, the holidays and other non-routine events. Also, the Special Event Worksheet.


The above originally appeared here.

And here are some tips from Budget:

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Moving Tip
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