Top tip #1: Make a list of everything that's going in the shipment, and mark the rooms that they came from. It's a pain in the arse but if the worst happened and it all got lost at sea you'll be grateful you did when the claims adjuster doesn't believe you had 5 pairs of Jimmy Choos in a crate next to a bug zapper. Highlight the brands of items that are precious to you and include serial numbers where possible. It also makes it easier when you're unpacking the boxes at the other end as you can check off the items and make sure nothing's missing. Our list ran to 33 pages. Seriously.
Top tip #2: Make some home-made toys that you can leave behind when you finally move. We've been remarkably lucky with DD and she hasn't been too upset that all her toys have disappeared into boxes in preparation for the packers arrival (see top tip #3). I credit the 'new' play house and Maisy figures that I made from a cardboard box. She loves it and I don't need to try and squash it into a case when we leave. I was inspired by the lovely Lorraine over at ikatbag who is seriously talented with cardboard in ways I cannot ever hope to be. (You could just borrow toys from friends too - but this is much more fun!)
Top tip #4: Read all your customs paperwork carefully and make sure you know what you can and can't ship home. We can't have any liquids in our shipment back to the UK. None. All those toiletries I stock-piled because I can't get them here? Yep, in my case or in the bin. If you know you're moving and friends or family are coming to visit before you leave, get them to squirrel a few things into their case for you.
Top tip #5: Collect together your little one's favourite DVDs, take them out of the boxes and put them in a slip case. You can ship the boxes to save weight in your case and they're all in one place when you need to whip 'em out. DD watched DVDs for two days straight while we were trying to get ready for the movers. No, I'm not proud of it, but it was necessary.
Top tip #6: It's kinda scary if you're little and all your most treasured friends and possessions suddenly disappear. If you're little one is old enough explain to them what it happening. Nana came out for a visit not long ago so I used that as a starter for 10, drew a picture of our apartment here and our house in the UK with a wavy blue sea between them and an aeroplane in the sky above. I sat her down and the conversation went something like this...
DD: On aero-plane.
Me: That's right. Nana went on an aeroplane to England.
Me: Yes. Tomorrow a lot of our toys and books are going to go to visit Nana on an aeroplane too.
DD: (looks nonplussed)
Me: And then we're going to go on an aeroplane and visit Nana too! Won't that be fun?!
During the packing day whenever DD asked for one of her toys that was packed I reminded her of the aeroplane/England/Nana scenario. I expected HUGE tears. But none arrived. She simply repeated 'Nana' a couple of times and pottered on her way. Result.
Top tip #7: Go out for a meal when the packers have left. You will likely have been in your soon-to-be-ex- apartment all day without a break and the place will be a mess. Or at the very least empty and echo'y Tidy up as best you can and then leave. Celebrate the fact that you got through it and have someone else serve you, even if it's just pizza. You deserve it!
Image: nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net