Packing to leave your family’s home base: what should stay, what should go?

leaving-your-familys-home-base-1While most transient families that we know are true gypsies in the sense that they pack up all of their belongings and move from one place to the next, there are others who maintain a “home base” of sorts. Sometimes they buy an investment property, sometimes the home has sentimental value and others just want a place to call their own. So when it’s time to leave the house you own and relocate to your new temporary digs, it can be overwhelming to decide: what should stay and what should go?

My family kept our house in Kansas City for several years while we bounced around North America for my husband’s job. We made some smart decisions and a few that we would have done differently if given the chance to try it all again. Recently a friend learned that she’ll be moving with her family, including a young daughter and a newborn. She asked for tips and we thought we’d share them with all of our Moving Moms!

  1. Breakables and items of great value stay. If you have things that could easily be broken in a move or ones that would break your heart if they were damaged, then leave them at your permanent home base. We always left behind a large, framed wedding photo, wine glasses that were hand painted by a friend and our kitchen table set that we love too much to risk damaging. We bought a cheap table set at Big Lots that can be taken apart easily and have used that in all of our travels. It’s also nice when we would make it back to Kansas City to have a table to eat at!
  2. Treasures stay. Things that you don’t look at or use frequently but hold dear to your heart should probably stay at your house. Things like old photos, family heirlooms, mementos from your wedding day and childhood belongings aren’t necessarily items you’ll pull out to reminisce over regularly. So we suggest storing them in a plastic tub at your permanent residence. Tip: Make sure everything is on a shelf or off the floor so that if your home would flood in your absence, you wouldn’t have to worry about water damage to your family’s prized possessions.
  3. Daily-use sentimental items go. Your child’s lovey that makes him or her feel safe obviously needs to be wherever your child is – so make sure Mr. Bear is on the packing list. In fact, we invested in three of the same bear for our daughter. That way we were able to have back-ups in case one ever got left behind at a hotel or store…. But I’m neurotic like that. Other things with emotional value, like your child’s familiar nightlight, a scented candle from your favorite local shop or your grandmother’s quilt, are easy to pack and will help you make a rental feel like your own space very quickly.
  4. The basics stay. Try to leave behind a few essentials to help you get by when you do return (even if just for a short visit) to your house. Things like a first aid kit, paper plates, cups and some silverware, a frying pan, baking sheet and a few towels for the kitchen and bathroom. We also left some blankets, one bed and a crib mattress. The kids loved “camping” when we’d visit! Tip: Stock your pantry with a few nonperishable items like microwavable popcorn, salt, pepper and granola bars. That way, when you’re exhausted from traveling back to your house the next time you return, you’ll have some staples to fall back on!
  5. Make it feel like home. This is tricky because it applies to both your house and your temporary living space. We always aimed to have just enough items to make both feel comfortable, welcoming and personal, without busting our budget. For us, that meant leaving the blanket my mom made for me at our permanent house, along with a handful of framed photos and decorative pieces I love. The rented apartments were adorned with new photos of the kids, familiar bedding and a cheap rug that covered our gross floors!

 More tips:

  • Think ahead. If you know that your family is only expected to be in the temporary housing for a year or two, consider what stages your kids will be in during that time. Will they transition from a crib to a bed? Grow out of that bulky swing in the next couple months? Are they almost old enough to start walking at the zoo instead of needing that big stroller? In some cases, it may make sense to make those transitions a little early rather than dragging along large equipment that you’ll only need for the first part of your relocation (especially since most rentals aren’t exactly spacious).
  • Remain calm. Leaving your beloved house is probably going to be difficult but don’t worry, you’ll be back! Let your kiddos take some time to say good-bye to their room or the house in general and take a photo before you leave to remember it the way it was!

-By Emily Shedek

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