Packing is a stressful process at any time, but packing up an entire house goes well beyond the normal measurements of stress. Not only will you be worrying about packing, you'll also be thinking about how you'll fit things into your new home, trying to keep kids from being squashed by shifting furniture, and attempting not to lose track of things like your wedding ring and your cell phone.

The best thing you can do to make your packing process easier is to make a plan. The following are some ideas to help you do just that.

Clean out before you move out

You know there are a lot of things in your house you never use or look at. Don't just transfer that stuff from the old house to the new one. Go through your house before you even begin packing and make those hard calls to get rid of old decorations and furniture, no matter how sentimental they are.

Create a labeling code

That way when you start unpacking, you'll have a way to tell without opening every box what's inside. Consider color coding or number coding according to the room of the house that the items in the box belong in. This adds more work to your packing, but it will be worth the effort.

Put heavy things in small boxes

For example, don't choose the biggest box you have to pack your bookshelf up. Sure, you have lots of books, but do you have any idea how heavy a massive box of books can be? A better idea is to choose lots of small boxes to pack your heavy items in. Your back and arms will thank you.

Match instructions with their appliances

If you haven't kept every instruction booklet for your TV, DVD player, fridge, surround sound system, and microwave, you'll want to make note of how they are currently set up before you unplug them. Put colored tape on the plugs and their input counterparts and label every cord so you know which appliance it goes with.

Put together "essentials" boxes

Each person in the family should have one of these. In them, they should pack things that they'll need the first few days after the move when most of the rest of their belongings are still packed. Some items to include would be toothbrushes, a few changes of clothes (including socks and underwear), blankets, and favorite toys. Separately, you'll want to have a "kitchen essentials" box so you have dishes to eat on and cook with that first week.

Moving to a new home might be an exciting time or a sad time, but you can make it a less stressful time by thinking ahead. The best thing you can do is to start packing weeks in advance so you have time to figure out if you have enough boxes, packing tape, and packing material. It's almost guaranteed that you will run out of one or several of these items at various times throughout the packing process.

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