Top Tips For Moving Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Boxes-Mask-Top Tips For Moving Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic-In Order to Succeed-WEBThere’s no doubt about it: moving is one of life’s most stressful undertakings. Whether you’re heading three miles down the street or three thousand miles across the country, a move of any size can cause more than its share of sleepless nights. And while a move has always been an anxiety-producing event, it has never been more so than in the era of COVID-19.

As moving concierge and organizing experts, all of us at In Order to Succeed have had to remain flexible over the past few months as we research and engage in best practices to ensure the safety of our team members, the professionals we work with, and our clients and their families. However, we understand that not everyone has the resources to work with professional organizers and productivity consultants like us. With that in mind, we wanted to offer some general tips that can help anyone moving during COVID-19 do so in as safe and efficient a way as possible.

The importance of the “virtual tour”:

Virtual Tour-Top Tips For Moving Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic-In Order to SucceedThe National Association of Realtors strongly encourages realtors to offer their clients the ability to take “virtual tours” of homes and apartments in the era of COVID-19. These tours, which often offer three-dimensional and panoramic views of interiors and exteriors, can provide you with a very good sense of your new home—even if it’s just on a computer screen. While we understand that it can be unsettling to consider such a major purchase based on limited or non-existent physical contact with a home, remember that licensed realtors are there to answer your questions, to help you narrow down your choices, and to find the “perfect fit.”

Should you hire professional movers?

As a concierge moving service, we work exclusively with professional moving companies that are licensed and insured. Although they may cost more, professional movers, organizers, and relocation specialists are trained and experienced. They know how to coordinate a move properly so that your goods will remain safe and will arrive undamaged. They’ve dealt with hundreds of moves and have often handled them with clients not present. Moving coordinators and professional organizers understand how to efficiently unpack the contents of your home and settle you in with as little stress as possible. 

Like all of our peer organizations, In Order to Succeed follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure health and safety during COVID-19. Professional movers are, too. The California Moving and Storage Association (CMSA) provides a thoughtful, well-considered series of steps, directed toward moving companies, that allow them to provide the best possible services for their customers. These include “maintain great hygiene,” “provide contactless customer service,” “comfort your clients,” and “remain flexible.” We feel that it’s important to share these steps with you so that you can understand exactly what precautions are being taken for your safety and the safety of those around you.

What questions should you ask before you hire a moving company, organizer, or relocation specialist?

Boxes-Blue gloves-Top Tips For Moving Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic-In Order to SucceedIn addition to the basics—questions like “What sort of insurance coverage do you have?” and “How can you ensure that my family’s possessions will get to our new home in one piece?”—you might consider asking some questions that center around these organizations’ responses to COVID-19:

  • What type of virtual and contact-free services do you offer? 
  • Do my family and I need to be present on moving day? If we do, how will you ensure our safety and the safety of your employees?
  • How is your company monitoring the health of your employees? Do you offer them paid sick leave? (Employees with paid sick leave are more likely to stay home if they are feeling ill.) 
  • What kind of moving and sanitizing supplies do you provide?

In addition, the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) adds several guidelines for consumers to consider as you plan and undertake a move:

  • Give movers the chance to serve you in the safest way possible. Notify them ahead of time if anyone in your household may have contracted coronavirus, or may have been exposed to someone who has.
  • Some professional movers can provide virtual estimates, rather than in-home. If this is your preference, please check with your mover to see if they offer this option.
  • Try to provide your moving crew access to a sink, soap, and paper towels throughout your move. If this isn’t practical, and it is readily available, provide hand sanitizer.
  • If you plan to prepack any items, purchase new moving boxes and tape from your mover; this isn’t the time to use recycled boxes from online sources or from stores.
  • Your mover may also have plastic bins available for rental. Wipe down the interior and exterior with a disinfecting wipe before packing items in them.
  • If you have shelf-stable food you plan to throw out to lighten your load, consider donating it to Move For Hunger to help feed people within your community.
  • Consider deep cleaning your new home before unpacking to mitigate further the risk of contracting the virus.

Finally, the staff at In Order to Succeed recommends that you create a moving plan in advance; that you and your family wear masks if you must be present during the move; that you pack a “last out, first in” box of essentials and keep it with you; and that, if practical, you wait 24 hours before unpacking your possessions (other than that “last out, first in” box).

Moving-Boxes-Top-Tips-For-Moving-Safely-During-the-COVID-19-Pandemic-In-Order-to-SucceedHere at In Order to Succeed, we understand that these additional steps can make an already-stressful experience that much more challenging. However, we hope that this curated resource—which we encourage you to share with others—will give you and your family some concrete, actionable information as you research and plan your move. 

If you live in New York, Connecticut, Florida, or Minnesota and would like to talk about working with us, please contact us directly. If you live elsewhere, you can find a professional organizer or productivity consultant through the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals’ (NAPO) searchable database. All of us at In Order to Succeed wish you the very best and hope that your move is as safe and stress-free as possible!

Summer of 2020—the “Summer of the Unknown”- How to engage with family routines and rituals during COVID-19

Back in April, Denise Caron-Quinn, Founder and Director of In Order to Succeed, reached out to me to ask if I wanted to collaborate on writing a piece about how students could organize their workspaces during distance learning. I eagerly agreed…but then, as so often has happened these past few months, I just didn’t have enough gas in the tank to follow through. I’m a forty-year-old adult with a Master’s degree and a twenty-year career in Education, I consider myself to be a hard-working professional…and I was absolutely flattened.

A year—or even six months—ago, it would have been impossible for most of us to imagine living in our current moment. The realities of COVID-19, and the incredible, indelible impact it’s had on our daily routines, have completely changed the way we live. Although there is a profound sense of hopefulness that we’ll be able to return to “normal” when a vaccine can be mass-produced, not knowing when that will happen creates a sense of powerlessness and fear that is unsettling and anxiety producing. In an interview with Slate’s Charles Duhigg, Bruce Felier, author of The Secrets of Happy Families, notes that, during his year-long recovery from cancer, he and his family “found ourselves in a situation that everybody finds themselves in, in which the old rules no longer apply and the new rules have not been written.” The same could be said for Americans living through the spring of COVID. For parents, the past few months have undoubtedly presented moments of joy and of frustration. Many families have found that their quarantine time together, while certainly bringing them closer, has also led to an increase in arguments, disagreements, and a non-infrequent need to retreat to everyone’s own corner.

For children (particularly for members of the Class of 2020), the cancellation of school activities and the loss of the soothing balm of their daily routine has upended their lives. As a middle school teacher, I have seen their sadness first-hand, as yawning faces fill up my Zoom calls each day and as students, who have ostensibly reached out for video extra-help sessions, talk to me instead about how much they miss their friends and teachers.

Now, here we are. It’s June. Summer vacation is on the horizon for many students and has already begun for others. We are all looking forward to a few months’ worth of rest and relaxation; to some time to recharge before returning to whatever the 2020-2021 school year will bring. (Distance? In person? Hybrid? Who knows?!) But despite their excitement, many of our children find that layers of disappointment keep being added to their COVID cake. Beloved sleepaway camps are cancelled. Summertime soccer fields will sit vacant. That trip to visit relatives must be postponed. So many of the activities that make summer “summer” won’t happen this year. Yet again, tears and frustration seem to be the order of the moment.

When most people think of an “organization consultant,” they think of the work of organizing: clearing out detritus, finding solutions for walk-in closets, and helping to plan moves and other major life changes. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: while our professional work can often focus on the physical cataloging of “stuff,” our true obsession is with helping families build and develop new, healthy, and sustainable routines. While these routines are important for adults, they are also very necessary for children. In their discussion of a 50-year research review, the American Psychological Association notes that “family routines and rituals are powerful organizers of family life that offer stability during times of stress and transition.” So: as we head into the Summer of 2020—the “Summer of the Unknown”—how can we engage with family routines and rituals to make our children’s lives easier and our family life more stress-free?

5-Summer of 2020-How to engage with family routines and rituals during COVID-19-1Create your own summer routines and rituals: My brother, Joe, and his partner, Ashley, are raising four unbelievable kids up in Maine. They have engaged in some incredible routine-building over the course of the last few weeks. One of my favorites involves good ol’ backyard camping: they pitched a tent in a newly-cleared space, and the kids have been sleeping outside under the stars. The kids love it, the parents love it…and it’s such a simple way to switch things up.

While nobody is suggesting that you recreate a six-week sleepaway camp at home (especially after being burdened with recreating school at home!), it’s easy (and inexpensive) enough to transition your child’s distance-learning setup to a craft space. All you need are a few small plastic bins, some supplies (Amazon offers tons of ready-made craft sets for purchase and home delivery), and a consistent day each week (or time each day) to let your child build and create. Blocks and Legos work too…and so does software like SketchUp. YouTube is full of cool tutorials (origami, anyone?); I know that several of my students have been playing around with stop-motion animation. And we can’t forget fitness; from riding bikes around the neighborhood to the New York Times’ “How to Build Muscle in Nine Minutes” workout (kids and teens can do it, too!), there are so many resources for keeping in shape…and so much of a benefit to schedule a time each day to do so.

Whatever the activity, make sure that there’s a dedicated space and time for it to take place and remember: the mess is part of the learning (and the cleaning up presents so many wonderful opportunities to learn responsibility!).

Choice is key: We do better, and are more dialed in, when we can choose our own activities. The same is true for young people. Instead of generating your own family schedule this summer, sit down with your child and collaborate. (If you want a laugh, check out the manifesto that thirteen-year-old Leo Rainey wrote to his parents’ quarantine overscheduling, which his mom, Claire Campbell, recently published on
Slate.) Remember that not every second of every day must be packed with activities; although kids will complain about “being bored,” it is in those moments of boredom when our creative minds run wild.

Rearrange and reconfigure: A few weeks into quarantine, one of my advisees excitedly announced to our Zoom that she and her dad were redecorating the “room under the stairs.” It wasn’t a huge room, but they were going to make it into a small nook for playing and reading. They painted, collected some furniture from around the house, and voilà: a brand-new (actually, a newly-repurposed) space!

Believe me: I’m not talking feng shui or Kondo-ification here. Neither you nor I have the mental or emotional strength right now to do anything like that! But even something as simple as moving a bureau catty-corner to a wall can make a huge difference. And, again: let your child lead the way. Working out ideas to restructure and repurpose can be fun!

Let it go!: My next-door neighbors have had two of their adult children living in quarantine with them, so, like all thoughtful parents, they recently rented a dumpster and directed Casey and Kevin to “get rid of all this junk we don’t need.” Believe me: organizational consultants dream of this, and you can check out some of the posts on our IOTS blog for tips and tricks. For some reason, I’ve got a collection of boxes in my basement (what did I think I’d need this many boxes for?), so one of my activities next week is going to be to flatten those boxes and take them out to recycling. A little goes a long way…especially when you have help!

Finally: Leave school out of the equation and let your children be: I recently interviewed Judith Warner, author of And Then They Stopped Talking to Me: Making Sense of Middle School, for the Pequot Library here in Southport, Connecticut. During our conversation, Ms. Warner spoke about the challenges of the Summer of the Unknown. “The most important thing parents have to keep in mind,” she said, “is that their relationship with their children is more important than whatever activity they should be doing or achievement they should be acquiring…A lot of parents right now…are worried that their kids are going to be falling behind academically because of the way the school year ended, and want to pile on during the summer…That’s the biggest mistake they can make.” Ms. Warner suggests that encouraging children to read is, of course, important—but that trying to cram in academic work will be a losing proposition. As a teacher, I echo this advice: this summer, let your kids be kids—for their sake, and for your sake!

There’s no way around it: this summer will be tough for all of us. But sticking to a schedule, engaging in some fun new routines, letting your child choose, and forgetting about school for a bit are some great ways to make it as smooth as possible. (And please feel free to connect with me if you have any additional tips and tricks to add to this piece—we’d love to make as many resources as possible available!) Enjoy the long days of summer…and do everything you can to make them last!

Contact us today to learn more about our virtual or in-person assessments to promote a pathogen reduced environment for your home or office. Also, to learn more about how we can help you organize your life or manage your move please contact us here.

Ben Gott is an Education Specialist and Organizing Consultant at In Order To Succeed