Cardboard, bubble wrap, and newspaper. That’s what I’ve been up to my eyeballs in this past week as we’ve slowly been moving in to our new home.

My husband and I have moved seven times in seven years of marriage. (Update since this post was first written: ten moves in thirteen years of marriage!) Two of those moves have been major transatlantic moves, hauling our earthly possessions 6,000 miles each way. Two others have been cross-country moves, trekking a moving truck 1,000 miles each way.

We’ve been through most everything when it comes to moving.

Each time, I forget about those basic things you want to have on hand that first week, when nobody knows where anything is. It feels chaotic and I feel helpless, not able to do the most basic of things (drink water, for example) without certain items within arm’s reach.

Here’s my list of those absolutely essential things you want to have on hand from Moving Day 1. Bring these things in your first load, and put them somewhere easily locate-able.

Photo by Linus Bohman

• Water—If you can drink water straight out of the faucet, awesome. If you need some sort of filtering system to make it palatable, bring a Brita pitcher

or plenty of bottled water.

• Cups or bottles for drinking water

• Sippy cups, if you have little ones

• Dried snacks that don’t require utensils

• Basic food stuffs for your first few meals—keep this super simple

• Nonbreakable or disposable plates, bowls, and utensils—If you have little ones, chances are high something will get knocked over with boxes everywhere. Don’t get out the real stuff until there’s a place for it.

• Napkins and/or paper towels

• Flashlights

• Keys

• Phones

• Charging cords

Important: A designated spot for flashlights, keys, phones, cords, and wallets (in the chaos, these things are easily lost). Bring a basket and make it the catch-all place for all of these things.

• Light bulbs

• Toilet paper

Cloth rags

• All-purpose cleaner

• Glass cleaner

• Floor cleaner

• Bucket

• Sponges

• Broom

• Dustpan

• Basic towels for the kitchen

• Vacuum cleaner

In order to spend the night in your new place

You’ll want to pack like you’re going out of town for the weekend—plus a few more things.

weekend bag
Photo source

• Bedding—pillows, blankets, and some sort of pallet (a mattress on the floor, a sleeping bag, whatever)

• Extra sleeping stuff for the kids—Their “thing” they have to sleep with (blankie or stuffed animal)

• Blackout curtains for little kids—If your kids wake at sunrise, get those curtains up stat.

• Jammies

• Several changes of clothes

• A few favorite toys and books for the kids

• Nightlights, if your kids need them

• Hand towels for the bathroom

• Bath towels—one per person

• Basic toiletries

• Laundry bag or hamper

• Laundry soap

Also—if you don’t want to think about household supplies and cleaners, start a subscription at Grove Collaborative. It’s what I use.

p.s. Ask these 3 questions when you declutter toys.

A Moving Day Checklist: the things you always forget (but you always need)