Organizing BEFORE You Move: Save Time and Your Sanity

So, you’re moving! How exciting and yet, utterly terrifying.

Moving doesn’t have to be your worst nightmare, though. It CAN have the potential to be only a mildly scary mini-dream. Below are a few tips to help you tame that moving beast while staying organized and at least partly sane.

Visualizing the New Place

Firstly, let’s start by visualizing your new place. Moving into a new home can also be the start of a new chapter in your life. Homes are often a marker in time when you think back and say, “it was when we were in the yellow house on Drury Street, or was it still when we lived at the condo?” Each home has a different feel and elicits different emotions. Looking forward, what kind of vibe are you wanting from this new place?

A few major factors that determine this are:

  • Location
  • Decor
  • Size

Each of those factors play into and off of each other. It’s not likely to feel like a quiet, relaxing oasis if you’re on the corner of two busy streets and you probably won’t get that authentic southwestern feel if all of your furniture and decor is mid-century modern. If you’re decreasing or increasing the square-footage, think about your current furniture and how that will physically fit in the new place.

Drive around and map out the new neighborhood. Think of some specific decor pieces that you can visualize beautifully placed in your new space. Taking measurements of the new rooms, your current furniture, and planning the furniture layouts beforehand can save you time and frustration when you realize mid-move that the new sectional doesn’t fit down the basement stairs.

Create Moving Notebook/Folder

Use whatever you have to keep all this moving-related info together. You don’t have to get super fancy with a hyper-organized, tabbed and color-coded binder, but having one place as your go-to can save you a lot of time when searching for your moving info.

Some good things to keep in here are:

  • Research (moving companies, storage units, internet/cable providers, new utilities and trash companies, etc)
  • To-do list:
    • Utilities to Turn on/off
    • School Paperwork to Transfer
    • Change of Address, Notifying Relevant Parties of Address Change (banks/credit cards, magazines/subscriptions, HR at work, etc.)
  • Moving Schedule, Appliance Drop-Offs, Carpet Cleaners, Etc.
  • Donation Center for donate items
  • Recycling Center for post-move boxes/packing paper

I also suggest creating individual folders for the following paperwork. Though most of these are moving-related, you will need to hang on to this info for much longer.

  • Loan/Closing Documents/Lease
  • Appliance Instruction Manuals
  • Warranties

Lighten the Load

Now, onto the most important part of this whole shebang. Do not bring anything to the new house that you didn’t use or love in the old house. If it’s broken and you don’t have solid plans to fix in with-in a few weeks, it’s time to go.

Before you move is the perfect time to “trim the fat”. A couple great areas to focus on de-cluttering and pairing down are:

  • Kitchen appliances and utensils
  • Bathroom and bedroom linens
  • Each family member’s wardrobe
  • Books and Media
  • Children’s toys

Now is also the time to go through those old boxes in storage that you’re not quite sure of the contents, yet have drug around to the last two or three houses with you. Odds are that they are full of items that don’t serve you anymore.

If you’re thinking that they are mostly keepsakes and memorabilia, it’s still a good idea to go through them and purge what you don’t absolutely love and want to still be holding onto 10 years from now. Chances are that the the last time you went through those old boxes, it was probably a lot more important to you to hold on to that high school graduation tassel than it would be to you now.


Now that you’ve gotten rid of things you don’t love or use anymore, it’s time to start packing up what’s left. It’s a good idea to start packing the items that are the least accessed/used and finishing by packing the every-day items. Starting this processes early will save you the most time and eliminates a lot of that last-minute scrambling and stress.

A couple tried-and-true packing tips:

  • Mostly use small and medium boxes
  • Put EVERYTHING in boxes
  • Put related and like-items in the same box
  • Label each box with:
    • What room the box should be taken to
    • What is mostly in the box

Selling Your Home

If you are listing your current home to sell, pack up as many of the household items as you can. While your home will be shown, it’s vital that there is no clutter anywhere.

  • Remove any non-neutral decor, especially personal photos and knick-nacks
  • Remove kitchen counter top appliances, store food out-of-sight
  • Keep bathroom and laundry counter tops clear
  • Give storage rooms a purpose, i.e. stage as a craft/sewing space etc.
  • Create illusion of space by moving some furniture to storage
  • Pack and store off-season clothing and shoes
  • Pack and store majority of children’s toys – especially large bulky toys like play kitchens, riding toys, etc.

Compile a Moving Essentials Kit

Alright, now you’re ready to move! It’s also a good idea to create an essentials kit with some of the items you will need to access right away that will save you from having to rip open and dig through boxes just to find one or two items. Here are just a few things that are great to include in your moving day essentials kit:

  • Toilet Paper
  • Towels/Paper Towels
  • Trash Bags
  • Soap: hand, dish, multi-purpose spray
  • 1 Dish Set/Disposables, Silverware, Cups
  • Box Cutter
  • Light Bulbs
  • Shower Curtain
  • Set of Bed Sheets for each bed
  • Teapot/Coffeemaker
  • Baby/Kid Items


Now it’s time to unpack and settle in! This part can be especially overwhelming. Below are some tips to help it stay a little less chaotic and a little more manageable.

  • Start unpacking right away
  • Only unpack one room (fully) at a time
  • Put things where they should permanently live as you unpack
  • Tear down boxes and move to recycling as you go

Additional Resources

Check out this thorough Organized Moving Checklist from the Container Store to make sure you’re staying on point.

Also, if you’d like some help getting your move organized, de-cluttering, or sorting through storage items, please contact me, I’d love to help!


Podcast Interview: Mindful Mama Movement

Last week I was interviewed on the Mindful Mama Movement Podcast! So fun talking about allllll my favorite things.

I talked to Shannon and Ashley about all things organizing: clutter, laundry systems, meal planning, and letting go. We talked about efficient ways to manage these household duties as well as how it feels being a parent and how I feel that it’s changed me.

Click the pic below to listen!


Before and After Pics


Busy Professional Man's Closet - Before and After

  Organizing and Containing Bathroom Items - Organized and Contained Bathroom Items Before and After  organized closet before and after From Closet Chaos to Closet Tidy - Organized Closet and Room Before and After


Photographers Home Office - Before and After 1 Photographers Home Office - Before and After 2 Photographers Home Office - Before and After 3 Photographers Home Office - Before and After 4 Catch All Home Office - Before and After 1 Catch All Home Office - Before and After Dumping Ground Home Office - Before and After


Un-Packing a Catch-All Garage - organized garage before and after left side Dads Tool Bench Organized - Before and After Cluttered Garage - Before and After

craft rooms

 A Sewing Room - Before and After A Craft Room Rediscovered - De-Cluttered Craft Room Before and After A Craft Room Rediscovered - before and after of an organized sewing counter

Basements and Storage

Organized Basement Storage - Before and AfterOrganizing a Storage Closet - Before and After Organized Storage Closet

play rooms

Organizing a Toy Room - Before and After Organized Toy Room Organized Play Room - Before and After

laundry and linen

 Creating Laundry Room Storage - Before and After Stuffed Linen Closet - Organized Linen Closet Before and After

unpacking into organization

Unpacking a Kitchen 1 Unpacking a Kitchen

A Closet For Three

Closets spaces for kids can get out of control in a hurry. Keeping up with the changes of season, growing children, and an influx of new clothes can keep any mama busy!

What if you take that times three, add in no other closet option due to the nooks and crannies of an old house, throw in some toys and bedding storage, aaaaand just for fun take into consideration we are talking three kiddos six years old and under!

Well on a normal day this is what you are looking at!

A Closet For Three - messy straight on view

No judging! If you are a mom in any capacity, you know how it can be!

Laundry is a monster, multiplying by the day!

Lets not forget the blessed laundry room where our clothes not only need washed and dried but folded as well! We are not even going to discuss ironing.  Let’s not.

A Closet For Three - messy basement clothes

This is real life.  Life that happens when you are taking care of little people.  Life that is relentless when you are a mom with a career and a household to take care of!

After the consultation we were able to determine where she needed the most help, so two mamas got to work!

I emptied the closet while the mama who knew the clothes started her sorting!  All the toys went to the playroom.  This closet would be for clothes only EXCEPT for some bedding that needed to be stored for when company came.  It’s location was currently to the left of the closet’s opening.

A Closet For Three - messy view to the left

This was way too easy for curious little ones looking for a hiding spot to crawl around in and turn into wreckage  so the shelves with bins were moved to the side for easier access to hanging clothes and to serve as a bit of a blockade.

The result:

A Closet For Three - organized view to the left

All of the piles and storage boxes of clothes from the basement came upstairs and were added into the equation!  FIVE  bags full of clothes were donated!!!

And THAT was the key to getting the closet looking like this!!!

A Closet For Three - organized straight on view

Lovely; a closet with clothes for three kiddos! All of this is with no other dressers, no other place for their clothes but here! Their mama had it in her mind to downsize and she DID!!

The support for the clothes rod was the divider for each  child and to the far right there were hooks for jackets, just a couple for each!

A Closet For Three - organized view to the right

Another happy closet and another happy mama!


Project by Nicole in Kansas City

A-Closet-For-Three - before and after

Little Boys and Their Toys

Little boys.  It was all about ’em today as we peeked into some brothers’ closets.  The first little guy was a big fan of cars, trucks and tractors!  Little boys and their toys - messy closet 1

We started by clearing the stuffed animals out that were not played with anymore.  Having those two shelves open gave us lots of room to play with.  The top one was designated for larger puzzles that he would need to have help getting out, while we made room for the wooden board puzzles on a lower shelf that he could access.   Books were straightened and Christmas books were pulled out and stored together for the holidays.  We then had space for some of the larger toys from his room on the shelves.  We had to give some attention to the trucks on the floor that were driving mom nuts!  Little Boys and Their Toys - lots of trucks on the floor

The trucks found a new garage space under the bed and train tracks in baskets made a more contained presence in the closet.   We then took everything off of the top shelf.

Little Boys and Their Toys - messy closet top shelf

And when we were done….Little Boys and Their Toys - organized closet from top to bottom

Of course his beautiful shelves, too!

Little boys and their toys - organized closet 1

Then it was on to closet number two. Big brother.

Little Boys and Their Toys - messy closet 2

Everything came off that main shelf and we put bins and books back after we pulled Christmas books out!  The search is still on for the perfect storage for this shelf that has so much potential and has not maximized it’s space.  It’s a bit tricky to find something narrow enough for the shelf space and not permanent.  The top clothes hanging rod is too high to be used now but when he gets taller it will be great!

Little Boys and Their Toys - messy shelf    Until then, we moved some of the stackable bins to this shelf along with some of his toys from his room.

Little Boys and Their Toys - organized shelf

Little Boys and Their Toys - organized closet 2

So after we were done there was an entire top shelf open  and that is always a great thing to see!!  And last but not least the shelf in the corner all straightened up!Little Boys and Their Toys - organized corner shelf

Project by Nicole in Kansas City

Little Boys and Their Toys - Organized Closet Before and After

Organizing to sell your home!

This is a great time of year to sell your home. Your open house is right around the corner and you’re tempted to toss all of your belongings into moving boxes.

Pretty simple right?

Organizing to sell your home is an opportunity to create a new chapter in your life and moving is the perfect time to de-clutter!

If you haven’t used or worn an item of clothing in 6 months, donate it. Take the time to go through your old books, papers, clothing, child’s toys and get rid of them.

A good place to start is with your bedroom and bathroom.

We tackled a few different mountains of clothing by sorting them into keep and donate piles. Oh boy, did we have things to donate. I was amazed at the amount of things my clients were able to purge. Now their bedroom is a calm and peaceful haven.



This is a great time to clean as you go. Grab that dust cleaner and Windex to have on hand. Once surfaces are clean you can start incorporating things back into their space. By purging and donating this opened up a ton of space in the closet to hang clothing, layout shoes and be able to see those travel bags.


Now it’s time to tackle the, long over due, bathroom counters. Start by throwing products out that are empty, expired and no longer serve a purpose. Then clean the counters and set out anything that is a daily use item… i.e.. toothbrushes and hand soap. Having a clean and organized bathroom is a great way to start your day!


Things were moving along and we were able to tackle their little boys room. Lighting McQueen! What little boy doesn’t love cars? His bed was a catch-all space for stuffed animals and clothing and his closet was a little disorganized. By donating all the toys he had outgrown we were able to clear off his bed and clear out his closet. There was now an open area for their son to play and a great visual space for potential buyers to see their child in.



A happy couple + an organized space = a home fit to sell!

I know Pinky was pretty darn excited…


Project by Amber in Austin, TX

organizing to sell your home - before and after