unpacking boxes

Once the moving truck has been unloaded, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the stacks of boxes around you. The good news is that this is the last step in your journey!

Remember you do not have to unpack all the boxes in one day. The first rule of thumb is: get organized. But how do you do that? This article provides you with a variety of “how-to” hints that range from general to room-by-room unpacking tips.

General Unpacking Tips

Make the time to unpack

Make sure you save enough time to unpack. Book additional vacation time from work. If you have children, try to plan for a babysitter – preferably away from the home.

Create a plan

If you follow a general order to unpacking your new home, you are sure to avoid frustration and a feeling of being lost in all the boxes. This article recommends you unpack your home in the following order (the tips presented in this article follow this order):

  • First unpack the boxes that are needed right away (your “essentials”)
  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom(s)
  • Bedroom(s)
  • Living Room
  • Garage / Patio.

Your plan should also include a simple timeline with responsibilities – such as, how many boxes will be unpacked per day, by who, etc…. Just be sure to keep the plan realistic and achievable.

Hook up major appliances

If the refrigerator, dishwasher, washer and dryer are not already hooked up, plan on doing this first thing. If you have gas appliances, you should call a professional.

Don’t put off till tomorrow what can be done today

If you think that you will do a task later, such as organizing pots and pans or lining the cupboards, it is probably a sign that you will never get around to it. If it matters that much to you – do it now!

Get rid of things you do not need

Even if you did a major clean up when you packed, you may realize once you start unpacking that there are still things that you really do not need. Get rid of them!

Itemize your belongings

As all boxes are unpacked, take inventory of your goods to make sure nothing has been lost or broken. If you used a moving company and there are broken or damaged items, make sure to inform them as soon as possible for insurance claims.

Involve the entire family

If your child is able to unpack their own stuff, let them and encourage them to make their space their own. This will help with the settling in process and make them feel more at home in the new place.

Personalize your new home

You want your new home to feel familiar and comfortable as soon as possible. Hang pictures and family photos around the house early in the unpacking process.

Take breaks

This sounds simply enough, but you’ll find when you’re unpacking that you’ll be pushing yourself to get it all done quickly. It’s important to take routine breaks, stopping to eat, sip tea or whatever else you need to gain a little energy, to take a minute to reflect on your move and to just ensure that you don’t overdo it.

Tips for Unpacking your Essentials

Unpack your essentials

Each member of the family should have an “Essentials” box. This should be one of the first boxes off the truck (because it was the last box loaded on) or something you moved with you in the car. These boxes should contain everything you need for a couple of nights.

Assemble essential furniture

Beds are usually the first pieces of furniture that need to be put together with their linens. Remember that routine is important to maintain, especially if you have children or if you have difficulty with change; establishing a somewhat normal routine will help you and your family feel more at home.

Order take out

This is probably the best part of unpacking Day 1 – indulging in take-out or delivery food. If you have children, try to make this part of the move an essential part to the first day, a kind of reward for the main part of the move being over and a celebration of good things to come.

Tips for Unpacking your Kitchen

The kitchen is one of the most critical rooms for a structured home and family. The faster you have an organized kitchen, the faster you can resume a normal life.

Refer to labels on the boxes.

Assuming boxes are well labeled, you should be able to locate what you need fairly easily. Start with the pots and pans and then move on to any small appliances that will make your life a little easier – like the coffee pot and toaster.

Plan where items will go.

For example, put all dishes and glassware in the cupboards above your dishwasher, coffee cups above the coffee pot and so on. Deciding what goes where before unpacking will save you lots of time in the long run.

Wipe and line shelves.

It is easier to wipe down shelves before placing your belongings.

Tips for Unpacking your Bathroom(s)

Unpack the things that are most important, such as medication, shower curtain and towels.
Make sure toiletries are put in an orderly spot.
Be sure the bathroom’s mechanical systems are functioning.

Tips for Unpacking your Bedrooms

Place furniture first

Placing the actual furniture and organizing the closet should be done before you begin unpacking clothes and personal effects.

Involve your entire family

Bedrooms can be unpacked by each member of the family and at their own pace. This gives each family member time to settle into their personal spaces. This is especially important for children and teens.

Think of the current season

If you do not have time to unpack all of your bedroom, at least ensure that current seasonal clothes are unpacked and organized.

Tips for Unpacking your Living Room / Family Room

For some members of the family, this room may be the most important in the house. If this is the case in your family, why not delegate the unpacking to those family members. Their job can be to make sure that the TV, stereo and DVD player are properly connected.

Tips for Unpacking your Garage and Patio

One of the last rooms to unpack is the garage. Don’t just throw everything in the garage. Since most garage items are not essential, try to organize the space before you start to unpack.
Get the tools you need to keep the space functional. This may include extra shelving, storage boxes, etc…
The patio items can be unpacked and set up at your own leisure.
If you are moving in the summer, you may want to consider setting-up the barbecue first. This will mean that you have more time to unpack the kitchen pots or pans.

These tips should hopefully provide you with an idea of what unpacking might look like. Thinking about how you’re going to tackle it is really half the battle. Once you have it planned out, it is really not that overwhelming.