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Whatever inspired your move — a new job, moving closer to home or closer to family, or just a fresh start — moving day will be here before you know it. And regardless of whether you’re moving across town or across the country, it’s important to prep leading up to the big move to avoid a stressful last few days in your current home.

From organizing your movers (or your friends and family helpers) to changing your address, use these 17 tips to help you plan, prepare and pack like a pro to make moving day stress-free.

  1. Give yourself time to prepare. Moving can be overwhelming, so begin early. Plan your move three to six months in advance to give yourself ample time to prepare.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask for assistance and support from close friends and family to lighten the load. It will help you complete chores and spend time with people before you go.
  3. Create a moving checklist. Make sure to cover all your bases with a checklist of everything you need to get done before you can move. This will help you spread out your tasks rather than cramming them into one last-minute surge.
  4. Spread out the packing. Make an effort to pack a little every day or for a few hours each weekend to help save yourself stress.
  5. Research movers. Investigate moving options and get an estimate in writing. The U.S. Department of Transportation is a helpful resource here, and is especially important if you’re moving out of state.
  6. Sort and purge. Decide what you want to keep and what you can get rid of. Think of what items may need special packing or insurance coverage.
  7. Order moving supplies. Stock up on moving supplies, like boxes, bubble wrap, tape, containers, etc. Get thrifty if you’re on a budget. Ask around at grocery, clothing and warehouse-style stores for free boxes. You can use shirts, towels and pillows to wrap and help protect your breakables.
  8. Start using things you don’t want to move. Use up those frozen or perishable foods and the rest of your cleaning supplies.
  9. Communicate with the kids. To help relieve anxiety, try communicating as much information as possible with children and allow them to participate in decisions when it’s appropriate. Start a kid-friendly Pinterest board of photos of the new city, neighborhood, things to do, etc. so your kids can get excited about where they’ll be living.
  10. Get your pets ready. Take your pet’s carrier out a month before the move, when they venture near it, feed them a treat so they will start to trust the place when they have to move.
  11. Forward medical records. Arrange for medical records to be sent to a new health care provider or obtain copies for yourself. Also, make a trip to your vet to get all of your pet’s medical history or interstate health certificate so they’re covered wherever you relocate.
  12. Get your kids set up at their new school. If you have children in school, make sure their records are transferred to their new school.
  13. Refill prescriptions. So you’ll have them on hand during the next couple of weeks.
  14. Keep your clothes from wrinkling. Instead of putting clothes in a box, take a large garbage bag and make a hole in the bottom of the bag. Pull the bag over your hung clothes so the handle of the hanger goes through the hole. Tie the garbage bag at the bottom so clothes don’t fall. When you unpack, simply put the hangers in the closet and remove the bag.
  15. Pack the essentials. Pack an essential box for every family member including pets. Include the things they’ll need at their fingertips the first night. Whether it’s pictures of family, stuffed animals, books or games, or pet toys (they’re creatures of comfort, too!).
  16. Arrange for a sitter. It can be stressful for a child to watch boxes and furniture move out of the house and doors are often left wide open. Try to arrange for a child and/or pet sitter for the day of the move.
  17. Fill out a change-of-address. The form is online at usps.gov or at the post office. You may want to have a neighbor from the old house check the mail two weeks after you move, just in case.