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Moving Tips (from someone who’s moved 12 times)

by Jocelyn on March 1, 2011

by Kristin Schwabauer Rydbeck

Getting ready for a PCS move this summer? Here are a couple of tips from some very seasoned movers:

  • Pack an “Open First!” box.
    Make sure you pack one box with bed linens, towels, a shower curtain and an easy meal to make the first night you’re in your new house (we usually had a jar of Prego sauce and a box of pasta). Label it in red with: “Open First!”
  • Take care of your movers.
    When movers came to our house, we always had food on hand, usually sandwich fixings for lunch, fruit and beverages. We were polite and nice to them—killing them with kindness ensured they packed our things with more care. We also kept the name and number of our contact with the military liaison in case there were problems.
  • Pack your car with…
    We made sure all important paperwork was locked up in our car. We also brought clothes, toiletries, paper plates, plastic cutlery, tape, pens, paper, cookie sheets (see below for explanation) and other essentials for being on the road for a few days. My Mom always made sure my sister, brother and I brought along a favorite toy to travel with, especially if we needed it to help us sleep well.
  • Clean up as you go.
    My Mom (the smart woman that she is) made sure our vacuum was loaded last. As rooms were emptied out, she’d vacuum them. She also kept cleaning supplies with her so she could clean when the movers left and could clean the next house before we moved into it.
  • Keep an inventory and label new rooms.
    We kept tape, pens and paper in the car along with a couple of cookie sheets. On move-in day, we used the cookie sheets to tape inventory sheets to so we could mark off boxes as stuff was brought into our new home. My Mom assigned one of us kids to sit at the front door and check things off our list. We also labeled the bedrooms at the new house with paper and taped them to doorways (“Kristin’s Room,” “Master Bedroom,” etc.). This would help direct movers to where to put boxes.
  • Unpack as you go.
    My Mom assigned another one of us to unpack wardrobe and picture boxes while the movers were still bringing stuff in to our house. We also unpacked dish barrels. At the end of moving day, the packers would take all cardboard and packing materials that were unpacked. This cut down on the amount of trash we had to dispose of.
  • Take advantage of that “Open First!” box.
    When the movers have gone for the day, you’ll more than likely be exhausted. Be grateful that you thought ahead and dive in to that box labeled in red. All you’ll want to do after a long day is eat, take a shower and crawl in bed. My Mom was usually able to find a couple of pans to cook with and we ate on paper plates.

Happy moving!

Writer’s note—the real credit for this post goes to my Mom, who had moving in our household down to a fine science. To share other moving tips or things you’ve learned along the way, be sure to leave a comment to help other wives get ready for their next move.

About the Author:
Kristin Schwabauer Rydbeck, daughter of a retired U.S. Navy chaplain, is a writer, photographer and editor at Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., by day. By night, she’s a gardener, potter, organizer and expert ice cream connoisseur. She loves to travel the world with her husband and dreams of someday being able to minister to the (military) community who gave so much to her. For now, if you want her to write about certain topics, leave a comment. She’d love to answer your questions.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Schwabauer March 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Another great walk down memory lane. Yes…you have moved a bit for a 20 something young lady…and as I remember it, you kids rarely complained…you just went with the flow. Thanks for that gift. You could have made things much more difficult for mom and I. While mom and I have moved a few more times than your 12 (I think we are up to 20 now…and it never gets any easier), we long for the day when the good Lord allows us to “settle in” someplace for the long haul. Until that day, whether it is here on this earth, or in our heavenly home, we will continue to be obedient to the Lord when He tells us to pick up our tent and follow the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22). Thanks again Kristin for your faithfulness and your love of the Lord and love of people. You are special. Dad


Priscilla March 2, 2011 at 7:16 am

This is so helpful. I’m newly married and looking towards the prospect of accompanying my husband on a TDY for officer school (I’ve heard that many ladies have gone with their husbands and been glad they did). Since it’s not a full move, I don’t feel a lot of pressure, but at the same time, I still have to figure out how to prepare for moving and for four months away from home. This list was great! Thanks! :)


Sue Schwabauer March 2, 2011 at 9:10 pm

I have to say you were a wonderful “unpack-er”!!!! One of my best memories was of you and Grandma A. unpacking boxes for the kitchen in NJ and you trying to compact all the packing paper in an empty dish barrel by jumping up and down on the paper in the box. :o) :o) Thanks for all the help over the years. One thing I forgot to mention with all our moves was that Dad and I would pray that God would send the people HE wanted to do our moves. We never knew if we would be able to minister to them or visa versa. We had some fabulous movers over the years. I do long for the day when we are finally planted and not thinking about the next move, though. :o) :o) I think We lived a life like Abraham….moving as God led (even though the Navy thought they were in charge). :o) :o) Love and blessings…Mom


Christine Gordon March 2, 2011 at 9:45 pm

well written Kristin…..I am enjoying the process of helping people buy and sell homes here on the north shore; I plan on sharing this great article with all my clients! it will be a HUGE help I’m sure! (so precious that way your parents nurtured their family and showed God’s love to all before….during and after the move. :)


Elli D. March 6, 2011 at 5:15 pm

You have moved 12 times? Wow, some people complain if they have to move once or twice. Such a high number is quite admirable, really. No wonder you have such great tips then (thanks for them, by the way). I actually keep telling everyone to label boxes when they move but I never thought of the “open first” box. What a smart idea!


Doug Gabos March 17, 2011 at 5:16 am

Hello–Your Dad reenlisted me when I was enlisted and stationed at NAS Cecil Field in 1985. I am still in the U.S. Navy and am serving in Baghdad right now. Please tell David that CDR Doug Gabos passes his best wishes.


Moya May 30, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Hi Kristin!! I saw this article on a friend’s FB page as she was sharing it with another friend. It was so neat to see your name! Great writing!


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