Purge before you pack
By Jacki Hollywood Brown
While military families may not have to worry too much about the cost of moving, the fact that we do it so frequently means we spend a significant amount of time packing and unpacking a household full of stuff. By reducing the amount of stuff you have to pack, you’ll reduce the amount of time you spend packing, loading, unloading and unpacking.
The night before the packers arrive on your doorstep is too late to start purging. You need to start as soon as you get your posting message or even as soon as you hear the rumour you’ll be posted.
Do some research in your local area to see which charities will accept donations of household goods. Ask what their drop off hours are and inquire to see if they will do a pick up at your home. Remember, charities are not garbage dumps. If you wouldn’t give the item to a friend, then don’t expect a charity to accept it. Charity Village has a listing of charities across Canada that accepts donations of goods. http://www.charityvillage.com/cv/charityvillage/donate.asp
Deciding what to purge can be the most difficult. Ask yourself the following questions to help make your decision: Do I like it? / Is it in good shape? Now is the time to let go of any items that you don't like or are in need of replacing. Let go of the old 1980s sofa you had in college. Get something you like for your new home.
Will it fit in my new home? If you're downsizing, it's a good idea to let go of big bulky items that onlyserve one purpose. Keep items that you can be repurposed. For example if your new kitchen doesn't have room for a microwave stand, consider using it in your office for your computer printer and store office supplies in it.
When did I last use this? / Do I use this frequently? Chances are if you have not used something in over a year, it is time to let it go but there are exceptions to this rule. For example if you love to skate and you have skated regularly in the past but the only reason you haven’t used your ice skates in a year is because you were pregnant, then keep the ice skates because chances are, you'll skate again. If you've only used your table saw twice in the past three years, consider selling it and renting one when you need it.
What about kids' clothes and toys? Don't spend years hanging on to a child's clothing with the hope of handing it down to younger siblings. Old clothes only take up space. Fashions change and it may not fit the younger child anyway. Give outgrown clothing to someone who can use it now. Donate toys that your child has outgrown. If your child refuses to part with them, suggest taking some to the grandparents’ houses. Helping your children run a garage sale may encourage them to part with their excess toys. It also teaches entrepreneurial skills!
What about all the paper and books? Check with your financial advisor about what paperwork you are required to keep. Shred the rest before you move. Donate books your not going to read again to the local library or school library. Keep reference books you refer to often.
Should I purge my computer's hard drive? Again, check with your financial advisor about what computer files you need to keep for tax purposes. Feel free to delete any files or emails you no longer need. Remember to back up your hard drive (including all family photos!) and take a copy with you in case your computer is stolen during the move.
What about the stuff the movers never take? Designate a special "household hazardous waste" collection point in your home. Use clean plastic containers (eg. yogurt containers) to collect dead batteries. Make a trip to the local hazardous waste depot a week or so before you move. Use up items you know the movers won't take such as shampoo, laundry soap and household cleaners. If you do need to purchase more, buy the smallest size possible. It may be a little more expensive but there will be less to pack in your car on moving day.
Moving doesn't have to be a stressful experience. Reducing the amount of stuff you have to pack and unpack will allow you to relax and enjoy your move and quickly settle in to your new home.
Jacki Hollywood Brown (B.Sc. M.Sc.), is a professional organizer and full-time army wife and Mom. She gets a thrill out of helping people define the type of life they want by helping their homes and businesses to look and function better. She is an expert problem solver and a creator of ingenious filing systems. She believes that a sense of humour and a multi-purpose screwdriver are invaluable. Visit Jacki's website at www.j-organize.ca.