Dear Diary,

On an average day, many moms juggle jobs, husbands, children, car pools, cooking and more. So if you throw in a move, it can throw off their entire month. That’s what happened recently when I decided to pack up and move in with my parents. I didn’t realize how much (hidden) stuff I owned. Take my front closet for instance, where holiday decorations hibernate. Or, perhaps pull out the drawers under my bed. Sounds like a nifty space solution, but I ended up saving all the papers I couldn’t part with. Not junk mail, but rather every piece of paper I received at the hospital when I gave birth, every picture I ever printed and every art project I didn’t dare throw away when Caitlynn was awake.

Before I moved, I had to organize and purge. Follow this checklist to pack up their house, even if your schedule is packed.

Six Weeks Before The Move

Before I moved, I wanted to ensure that I took only items I actually used. So, I embarked on a mission to clear the clutter in my closets. I donated clothes and household items—some brand new but collecting dust—to the Free Store, a consignment store without price tags for neighbors in need in Braddock and Wilkinsburg. I also tossed out old art projects from Caitlynn’s preschool class, keeping only a few precious pieces. If you can’t part with your child’s crafts and coloring pages, take a picture! You can preserve the memory through your camera phone. We also downsized the toy room. Caitlynn is really good at giving things away. She even asked to give a couple new toys to kids who may not have anything to play with at their homes. This is also a good time to put aside the toys your child plays with on a regular basis. You can avoid many meltdowns by not mixing up a favorite teddy bear in the boxes at the back of your moving truck!

Five Weeks Before The Move

Contact Guardian Storage to rent your storage unit and reserve a free moving truck. You can rent a small unit for a few boxes and personal items, like photo albums, important paperwork or even your wedding dress that’s taking up too much closet space. Or, you can scale up and rent a unit that holds items from your entire house, everything from your bedroom set and dining room table to your children’s playroom and kitchen appliances. Based on your budget, you can select a space with climate control, drive up access or a standard storage. Be sure to check the website for online specials.

Four Weeks Before The Move

Start packing! If you’re a working mom like me, there are a limited number of hours that you can devote to packing. I split the house into fours. One week, I packed up the dining room—don’t worry, you can eat on tray tables. The next, I packed up my living room, minus the couch and television. I then emptied the closets and cabinets, leaving out the necessary clothing and items to get through the final weeks. Lastly, I packed up my bathroom and toiletries. Along the way, I ran out of moving supplies. Guardian Storage offers moving and packing items, like tape and bubble wrap. You can pick up boxes at your neighborhood convenience and wine and spirit stores.

Three Weeks Before The Move

Book a babysitter! Although my daughter helped pack boxes, she unfortunately would be in the way—and in harm’s way—on moving day. I asked my mother if she could babysit during the move. That way, I could focus on what box went where. Since I moved in with my parents, I put the bulk of my belongings in a unit at Guardian Storage, but I also took several boxes to my new residence.

Two Weeks Before The Move

Forward your mail! You can now request a change of address online. You’ll get a welcome kit with lots of coupons; so don’t buy big items until after your move! Don’t forget to change your address for other agencies, like your bank, your state election office and the IRS. Also, be sure to disconnect services, like your cable and landline. This is also a good time to check in with your movers, to make sure you’re still on the schedule. If you are hiring a cleaning service, at your old or new location, be sure to confirm this appointment as well. Now is also a good time to notify your employer of the change, to update payroll records.

One Week Before The Move

Enjoy your current home! Your children may miss their old place, so take time to enjoy your space. Caitlynn and I went to the park across the street, fed the ducks at the pond, threw coins into the fountain and made wishes. We also walked to our favorite Thai restaurant for dinner and picked up the famous chocolate chunk brownies at the coffee shop for dessert.

Hey DFTM Fam—What advice would you give to a busy mom preparing for a big move?

You can find out more about storing your belongings, even if you’re not moving, by visiting Guardian Storage’s website, Facebook and Twitter channels.

Disclosure: Diary of a First Time Mom is proud to partner with Guardian Storage to chronicle my journey to home ownership. Some form of compensation has been received, however all opinions remain my own. 

About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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