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Dismantling The Nerve Center Of Your House -- 5 Steps To Packing Your Family's Kitchen

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Packing up the family kitchen is usually one of the most complicated parts of the packing process. With its many moving parts, small and very large equipment and delicate goods, the kitchen is a unique moving challenge. If you're trying to keep the family running while packing up their kitchen, here are 5 tips for any parent.

Sort and Purge. Start going through the kitchen goods at the earliest opportunity -- before sorting through most other areas of the house. Because there are so many items in the kitchen and it's such a high-traffic room in most family homes, you will probably find a lot of items ripe for decluttering, purging, donating and simply throwing out. Look for ways to reduce the amount of utensils, kitchenware, unused small appliances, old pots and pans, mostly-empty spices and out-of-date home decor.

Set Aside Current Items. After the purge and before you begin filling boxes, make a designated place (and a designated box, later) for what you need to keep the kitchen functional both before and after the move itself. For a family, this will likely include some flatware, dishes, cups, towels, cleaners and cooking pans. Include your kids' favorite snacks and morning cereals to help keep them full and content in your old home and your new one. For Mom and Dad, you might want to include the coffee maker in this "essentials" stash. Place these items in a box or two on the big day and then keep it with you when you actually travel to your new home. Open immediately.

Use the Right Materials. Rather than use old or mismatched boxes and whatever packing materials you can dig up, invest in some proper packing and storage materials for the kitchen -- especially if your move is long distance. Purchase solid boxes in several different sizes for different uses. Large boxes should hold bulky, non-fragile and lightweight kitchen goods. Medium boxes can be used for dishes, cookbooks and pantry items. Small boxes can help keep utensils, spices or miscellany drawers from becoming too disorganized. Purchase cell kits that go inside your boxes to store bottles, china and glasses. And be sure to have plenty of non-print newswrap and bubble wrap so you can wrap things liberally. 

Pack the Little Used First. There will probably be a lot in your kitchen that you can pack up early without the kids even noticing. Vases, holiday or entertainment cookware, extra dishtowels and many small appliances can often be packed up without impacting your ability to keep the kitchen functional. During the final week, plan simple meals that require little prep and fewer cooking tools so you can pack more items away. You may also want to purchase plastic or paper dishes and cups for the final push before moving day. 

Offer Food and Drink. As your friends and family help you pack up, use it as an excuse to get rid of extra food and beverages. Make them some cocktails with those half-empty bottles of liquor and wine. Offer lunch and dinner to helpers using what you have left in the pantry. Convince your good friends to take food care packages home with them. Whatever you can do to empty the liquor cabinet and pantry will save you money and time transporting small items. Only transport expensive food or drinks, hard-to-find items and your family's personal favorites. 

By following these 5 basic steps, you can successfully pack the family kitchen in a way that will reduce your stress and keep it usable both as you leave your old home and as you enter your new one. Then, you can sit back, relax and let the long distance movers do their part.