My mother, my mover

By Alana Mayman  | August 12, 2011 - 8:15AM

My beloved, devoted and doting mom lives in Toronto, 245 miles and 1237 miles, respectively, from me (in NYC) and my sister (Boca Raton). While some long-distance mothers might settle for Skype, iChat, and trips of both the twice-a-year and guilt variety, my mother has found the secret to being a constant presence in the lives of my sister, me, and our families.

My sister and I don't make a move without her - literally. 

Over the past four decades, my mother has moved a grand total of 34 times and only 10 of those were for herself and my dad. The other 24 moves were for me (10) and my sister (14!).  She leaves her stamp on every dorm room, apartment, and house that she touches and makes it a home. She arrives to pack and stays until we are completely unpacked, a few times letting us sit the whole thing out while pregnant or nursing.

Herewith, a little Q&A with mom on how she does it....

What are the 3 most important elements for a good move?

Number one - and the most important element of a good move - is finding a reputable moving company: One that gives you the real price with no extra charges at the end, one that honors the commitment to pay for repairs or replacement of things that get damaged or broken, one that provides enough people to load the truck and unload in a timely way, with movers that are magicians at getting huge pieces of furniture through ordinary doorways without damaging either.

Number two - be organized and don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed. Have an “I can do this” attitude.

Number three - rely on no one else but yourself to organize and oversee preparations for the move and the eventual unpacking. No one else can possibly know what you value, except perhaps your mother. In my case, for instance, I have moved with every single Playbill from every single play I have ever seen. I realize this is impractical but theater is ephemeral and I like to keep a piece of it with me.

How do you prepare for a move?

There are several ways to prepare.

Get a few quotes from different moving companies and ask friends for recommendations.

Get clean, fresh boxes (you don’t want bugs hitching a ride to your new place) and packing materials like bubble wrap and packing paper (newsprint), tape etc.

Purge! Throw out those old textbooks from high school and college essays. Give away or have a garage sale for anything you don’t want in your new place. Be brutal.

I also like the idea of feeling like a bride each time I move, so I treat myself to fresh new dish towels, bedding, and a complete set of drinking glasses. This gets me excited about the prospect of moving despite the hard work ahead.

How do you organize the packing? What, if anything, should be outsourced to others?

Start with the all the unessential items in your home: the vases, knick knacks, CDs and books. You can start on these early because you don’t really use them. Pack up all the things you have in storage closets. Most of this you can do on your own, hitting one room at a time one box at a time.

Next pack the non-essentials in your kitchen, like the mix-master. It is highly unlikely that with a move approaching you will be doing any baking any time soon.

Leave the bare bones of your dishes and glasses and pack the rest. The kitchen, from my experience, is the largest part of what needs to be packed.

I have the moving company pack my good china and crystal and my paintings. If anything is broken it is covered by their insurance. I would only pack these items myself if it was a short move and I could drive the boxes over myself. Large moving companies can crate your art. It is expensive but I feel it is worth keeping works of art safe.

What's your worst moving horror story?

The worst moving horror story was when I was a young child of seven and my family moved from Brighton Beach to Toronto, Canada. The movers lost (stole?) the box with our most treasured toys. We lost some pretty neat toys that I wish I could pass on to my grandkids.

In other moves, there were times that furniture got damaged or it rained or was boiling hot or the movers showed up a day late and I spent the night sleeping on a mattress on the floor but those were nothing compared to the memory of that loss.

Tell us about your favorite move. What made it so good?

The best move was one I recently oversaw for you moving from one apartment to another in the same neighborhood. Your movers [Avi and his team from Flatprice Movers] were the most organized, efficient and hardworking I have ever seen. They were like a fine-tuned military operation. Amazing!

How do you organize the kitchen?

The kitchen is like putting a puzzle together. First, I make sure the cupboards are clean. If it’s an older kitchen, I put shelf liners down to make it feel neater and cleaner.

I put glasses in the upper cupboards near the sink. Moving further away from the sink, dishes go on the lower shelves of the upper cupboards and serving pieces I don’t use everyday in the upper shelves. Newer kitchens have drawers for pots and drawers in the pantry. I love those. If not, the pots and pans go into the lower cupboards nesting together as well as the small appliances I don’t use very often.

As I live in the kitchen and learn the traffic patterns, I might change things around but that has rarely happened.

Any tips for the closets? Any other tips in general?

Closets are the easiest thing to pack. I use the cardboard wardrobes from the movers and just move all the hanging clothes on to the rack and all the folded clothes are put in the bottom. The same with the shoes and accessories.

Label each box: what room it is meant for and what’s in it. It saves you a lot of time when you go to unpack. No searching for that favorite mug. You can get into your comfort zone pretty quickly and the new place begins to feel familiar and yours.

Related posts:

Rental Rookie: Moving day and lessons of starting anew

10 minutes with NYC mover Zvi Manor: 15-20% is a good tip. Biggest ever: $6k

The farewell tip

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.