Here we are, one month living in our new home, and it is still a mess. I could blame it on the fact that we've had our kitchen renovated, and are about to have new flooring put in. But the truth is, unpacking has been such a frustration that I just can't get it done. My husband has managed to avoid it almost completely.
Boxes aren't labeled very well--for instance every kitchen box was labeled "K glass," even if it contained just food, doormats, and a broken shelf. No glass. It took us three weeks to find the silverware, which was at the bottom of a box in our bedroom that was labeled just "sewing machine." I thought it was a box I could safely leave til the end. I finally decided to take a peek inside, and found flower pots, the mat from under the litter box, some patio toys, some packing quilts and burlap from the movers, my sewing machine, and then, at the bottom, the silverware. I won't tell you the words I used to express my irritation with the idiots responsible for that box, because I recently swore off swearing (ironic, isn’t it?) But if I were still a swearing woman, I would hope there is a special place in h-e-double-hockey-sticks for those evil villains who got paid good money by the Navy as "relocation professionals." That is how angry I am about it.
My friend Sarah Smiley recently address moving in her column Shore Duty, and she listed some really useful tips, like meeting the moving truck with donuts. Wish her column had come out before our move, in case the donuts would have made the difference. But I have come up with some pretty specific advice over the last few weeks, which I am sure I will forget by the time our next move rolls around. I thought posting about it might make it sink in a bit better.
1. Get someone to watch your kids on moving day so you can watch over the packers. I left my husband to hang with the packers, and went with my kids to my friend Jill’s house. To be honest, I couldn't take the chaos. Also, I had other errands to do, like getting the cat a rabies shot, and picking up pizza for the packers and my husband. But next time I will stay at the house, as well, because obviously one person was not enough to follow these malevolent packers around.
2. Make sure they label the box with the coffee maker. It also helps to have all the parts to the coffee maker in the same labeled box. Include coffee filters, too, if possible. A real mug would be a bonus.
3. Make sure all furniture that must be dismantled has hardware wrapped and taped to it. For instance, desks, tables, beds, and cribs. To date, my baby girl is still sleeping in the bouncy seat she long outgrew because we still can't find all of the crib hardware.
4. Expressly state that you want dirty things like garbage cans, doormats, and litterbox items packed separately. My friend Sarah has always referred to the linens being packed in the garbage can as one of those frustrating constants with hired movers. But finding the litter box scooper among the baby toys was way beyond frustrating.
5. Make sure they label the box with the coffee maker. Having to face such packing anarchy is just that much more infuriating when you don’t have your morning coffee.
6. Insist they tape filing cabinet doors closed, rather than dumping all your files into boxes. If this is impossible, because the cabinets are huge and would be too heavy, then at least go out ahead of time and buy real filing boxes from Office Max, and pack your files yourself, labeling them yourself. I haven’t yet opened our 10 boxes marked “office paper.” I fear the jumbled mess inside each box. It might just be too much.
7. Make family members put stuff away. I don’t know how to make this happen myself, but if you have any sway with your spouse and children, make them unpack, too. You may want to do it all. But. You. Just. Can’t.
8. Make sure they label the box with the coffee maker. If you are anything like me, your manner of asking your family to pitch in will be decidedly sweeter after a cup of morning java.
9. Request packers label boxes with the room the contents came from, and at least three items in the box. This is so you don’t get silverware, flowerpots, doormats, and sewing machine altogether labeled simply “sewing machine.”
10. Most importantly, speak up! Don’t assume they know what they are doing. When you see something that you want done differently, just politely tell them! “Um, if you don’t mind, let me take that cat litter rake out of the pile of teething toys. Thanks.”
Overall, I am grateful for not having to move myself. It is definitely a welcome military benefit, one I wouldn’t want to live without. We’ve moved 6 times, and this is the only time I’ve had bad things to say about the packers. In fact, the movers on this end, in Virginia, were wonderful. I try not to think about the possibility of doing this all again in two years. Hopefully when the time comes, I’ll have this list.