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Feeling Overwhelmed with Unpacking After a Move

Feeling Overwhelmed with Unpacking After a Move? Try These Tips

May 02, 20248 min read

Moving into a new home is exciting, but once the movers leave and the boxes pile up, you’ll have a lot of unpacking to do. If those boxes leave you feeling overwhelmed with unpacking, you're not alone. Settling into your new Kansas City home doesn't have to be a weeks-long ordeal. This guide will help you unpack so you can finally feel settled in your new home.

Beat Unpacking Procrastination With This Step-by-Step Guide

Unpacked boxes create obstacles, making it hard to move around your home and find things. The sight of unpacked boxes can stress you out and make you less motivated to unpack. Delaying unpacking postpones creating an organized and functional living space. No need to worry. We can help you conquer that unpacking procrastination. Just follow these simple steps.

Set a Realistic Timeline

Count all your moving boxes. Divide that number by your desired unpacking timeframe (e.g., 30 days) to get a daily unpacking target that fits your busy schedule.

Decide on a realistic timeframe to unpack the entire house (e.g., one month). Then, break that down by room (e.g., kitchen in one week, bedrooms in two). This works well for people who prefer deadlines.

Unpack One Room at a Time

Focus on unpacking one room at a time. This lets you concentrate your energy and finish unpacking faster. Completing a room motivates you to tackle the next one. This is especially helpful for people overwhelmed by large spaces, common of many Kansas City homes.

Set Mini-Goals and Rewards

Set small, achievable unpacking goals to feel less overwhelmed and stay on track. Completing these mini-goals keeps you motivated. Reward yourself for reaching milestones with something you enjoy, like a relaxing activity or takeout from your favorite Kansas City barbeque spot. This makes unpacking more fun and less like a chore.

Essential Items To Unpack First

You've made it to your new home, and now you're staring at a pile of boxes. Where do you even begin? The trick is to focus on your essential items first. 

Pack your box before the move and clearly label it "Essentials." Inside, include items you'll need immediately upon arrival in Kansas City. Here's what goes in:

  • Toiletries: Basics like toothpaste, shampoo, soap, and any medications you need.

  • Change of Clothes: Pack enough clothes for a few days for everyone in the family.

  • Bedding: Sheets, pillows, and a light blanket for each bed will ensure a good night's sleep in your new home.

  • Basic Kitchenware: Paper plates, plastic cups, utensils, and a pot or pan for simple meals will suffice until you unpack the full kitchen.

  • Phone Chargers: Stay connected with a charger for your phone and any other essential devices.

  • Paper Towels and Toilet Paper: Stock up on these necessities to avoid last-minute trips to the store.

Having these essentials readily available means you don't have to rummage through moving boxes at midnight looking for your toothbrush or a clean towel.

Kitchen Essentials

The kitchen is often the heart of the home, and unpacking it first can improve your quality of life. Prioritize the following items:

  • Coffee Maker: A functioning coffee maker is important in the mornings, especially during a move to a new city.

  • Pots and Pans: Unpack enough cookware to prepare basic meals until you can fully unpack the kitchen.

  • Small Appliances: Prioritize appliances you'll use daily, like a microwave or toaster.

  • Dishes: Unpack a few plates, bowls, and utensils for quick meals.

  • Cleaning Supplies: Stock the basics like dish soap, sponges, and paper towels for a quick kitchen clean-up.

With a functional kitchen, you can avoid constant takeout and establish regular meal routines in your new home.

Bedroom Items

A good night's sleep is important during a move. Focus on making your bedroom a comfortable space for restful sleep in your new home. You can do this by doing the following:

  • Assemble the beds.

  • Unpack sheets, pillows, and blankets for everyone.

  • Unpack pajamas and loungewear for maximum comfort during your first nights in your new home.

A restful sleep environment helps you adjust to the new surroundings and tackle unpacking with renewed energy.

Bathroom Basics

A functional bathroom is necessary for daily routines. Unpack these first:

  • Medications: Allow everyone easy access to their medications.

  • Toiletries: Stock the bathroom with the essentials you packed in the "Essentials Box."

  • Towels: Unpack enough towels for everyone in the house.

  • Shower Curtain or Liner: Create a functional shower space for immediate use.

  • Toilet Paper: Stock up on this bathroom item.

Having a functional bathroom allows everyone to feel comfortable and maintain hygiene routines while unpacking.

Make Unpacking Easier

The essential unpacked boxes are a great start, but there's still more to do. Here are effective strategies to make unpacking easier.

Divide and Conquer

Use a "divide and conquer" strategy. Focus on unpacking one room entirely at a time. This lets you see visible progress quickly, keeping you motivated. Within a room, unpack by category. Unpack all the books first, then clothes, decorations, and so on. This ensures a more organized final result.

Try The "Sort and Purge" Method

Unpacking is a perfect opportunity to declutter. As you open each box, sort items into three piles: keep, donate, and discard. This reduces clutter in your new home and allows you to start fresh. Donating gently used items to one of the many local charities is also a great way to support a good cause.

Label Everything Clearly

Label all boxes and shelves with clear labels. This makes it easy to find what you need later, saving you time and frustration, especially during the initial unpacking chaos. On each label, include the room name and a brief description of the contents (e.g., "Living Room - Books").

Maximize Storage Space

Make the most of available storage space. Unpack furniture with built-in storage first: dressers, cabinets, bookshelves. This gives you storage space for unpacked items, reducing clutter. Also, take advantage of vertical space with shelves or hanging organizers.

Celebrate Your Achievements

Unpacking takes time, so be patient with yourself. But celebrate your progress. Reaching unpacking milestones (e.g., finishing a room, or decluttering unused items) deserves a reward. Celebrate with a takeout meal from a restaurant, a relaxing activity, or spend time exploring all that Kansas City has to offer. These mini-celebrations keep you motivated throughout the unpacking process.

Kansas City Newcomer Resources

Unpacking boxes is a huge milestone, but making your new space a comfortable and inviting home takes a little more effort.  Here are some additional steps to help you seamlessly transition into your new life in a new city like Overland Park, Leawood or Lees Summit.

Connect With the Community

Explore your new surroundings. Take walks or bike rides to discover your new neighborhood. Check out local parks, cafes, and shops in your neighborhood. This can help you feel connected to your new community.  

Look for local events, clubs, or volunteer opportunities that align with your interests. Getting involved is a great way to meet new people who share your passions.

Update Important Documents and Utilities

Make sure you receive mail and updates at your new home by changing your address on important documents like your driver's license, voter registration, and bank statements. You also need to contact utility companies (electricity, gas, water, trash collection) to transfer service to your new address, ensuring your new home has functioning utilities.  

For more information about local resources, consider visiting online resources or the City of Kansas City website. You can find information about registering your car, getting a library card, and more.

Personalize Your Space

Make your new space feel like home by unpacking artwork, family photos, and other decorative items that reflect your personality. Experiment with furniture placement to create a functional and inviting layout in each room. 

As you're settling in, explore what Kansas City’s furniture stores, home decor shops, or antique stores have to offer. You might find unique pieces to add a touch of local flair to your new home.

Register for Services

Choose an internet and cable provider that meets your needs for staying connected in your new home. Consider installing a security system to deter break-ins and make your new home safe. Research local services you might need, such as house cleaning, lawn care, or pet care. Having reliable service providers can make your transition much easier.

Complete Your Unpacking Checklist 

The excitement of moving to a new home can fade quickly amidst piles of unpacked boxes. Remember, unpacking is a process, and completing small tasks can make a big difference. By following these strategies, you will transform those boxes into an organized and inviting living space:

  • Break down the unpacking process into manageable chunks. Use the "boxes per day" method or focus on one room at a time.

  • Turn off your phone and resist the urge to check social media when unpacking.

  • Use the "one-year rule" or Marie Kondo-inspired methods to get rid of unused items.

Every box you unpack brings you one step closer to a comfortable and functional home where you can relax and build new memories. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with unpacking after a move, consider reaching out to a professional organizer in Kansas City. However, with a plan, focus, and a bit of determination, you can make your new house feel like home.


Karen has been a professional organizer in Kansas City since 2015. With her experience in sales & marketing, complemented by a lifelong side gig as a fitness instructor, she discovered that maintaining organization is her method of cultivating tranquility in her life and thoughts. Her frequent family relocations were managed with ease thanks to her organizational prowess, a talent she now imparts to her clients.

Karen's enthusiasm is rooted in devising systems, overseeing projects, and utilizing her meticulous attention to detail to craft spaces that are both aesthetically pleasing and practical. As her enterprise flourishes, so does her team—comprising only the most professional, efficient, and discreet organizers. She's selective, ensuring her team exemplifies their high standard of service. For her, organization transcends the mere purchase of attractive storage solutions; it's about equipping individuals with the means to alter their habits and revolutionize their lives.

Karen Swart

Karen has been a professional organizer in Kansas City since 2015. With her experience in sales & marketing, complemented by a lifelong side gig as a fitness instructor, she discovered that maintaining organization is her method of cultivating tranquility in her life and thoughts. Her frequent family relocations were managed with ease thanks to her organizational prowess, a talent she now imparts to her clients. Karen's enthusiasm is rooted in devising systems, overseeing projects, and utilizing her meticulous attention to detail to craft spaces that are both aesthetically pleasing and practical. As her enterprise flourishes, so does her team—comprising only the most professional, efficient, and discreet organizers. She's selective, ensuring her team exemplifies their high standard of service. For her, organization transcends the mere purchase of attractive storage solutions; it's about equipping individuals with the means to alter their habits and revolutionize their lives.

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“I cannot recommend Karen Swart and her team enough! We were in the Kansas City area for a full summer, filming “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning,” and Karen and her team were our behind the scenes death-cleaner helpers! They helped our Death Cleaners move quickly, efficiently, and thoroughly through people’s homes - and they did it with heart. Thank you, Karen! Stay Gentle!”

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