Last week was moving day at the White House. While the world watched a new U.S. president take the oath of office, dozens of federal White House staffers were behind the scenes, racing against the clock, preparing the six-level, 132-room executive mansion for the new first family.
On inauguration morning, the president typically hosts coffee for the president-elect and his family on the White House grounds. Then, at about 10:30 am, the president and president-elect depart together for the swearing –in ceremony.
That’s when the clock starts ticking!
As soon as they go out the front gate and are headed down to Capitol Hill, an elaborate plan goes into effect and the “transfer of families” begins.
For the next five hours, it’s all hands on deck. The goal is to have the White House completely made over and ready for the new first family when they come in after the inaugural parade.
That means new carpeting, cleaning, painting and pictures. Old furniture out and new pieces in. Almost 100 White House staffers and contractors are involved.
“It’s very busy – you are on your feet constantly, making sure things are going in the right way, and there is very little time to spare.” – Betty Monkman – White House curator for more than three decades
The White House moving team has less than 6 hours to move out the former president’s things and move in the new family.
It’s organized chaos with a carefully scripted plan, timed out right down to the minute!
How do they do it? And what can you learn from it? Well, the White House staff has been doing it for hundreds of years so it’s a pretty well oiled system.
And although you may not have 100 people helping you with your move there are steps you can take, and a few White House tips you can follow, that will make your move just as smooth as a president’s.
Allow Yourself Enough Time To Prepare
This is a big one! If possible start planning your move about 8 weeks in advance. For the White House “flip”, the transition from one First Family to the next starts being planned almost 18 months before the actual inauguration.
The real key to a stress free move is to ensure that you’re well prepared. Evaluate and reserve movers or truck rentals at this 8-week-out point, and schedule any helpers you think you’re going to need on the actual day of the move.
This is another big one! If you’ve allowed yourself enough time to prepare then getting, and staying, organized will help you execute flawlessly when moving day arrives.
At The White House, almost a year before the inauguration, the Chief Usher begins preparing the “first family briefing books.” This is essentially an “Ultimate Moving Guide” for the incoming residents.
Spanning 10 to 15 pages, the guide includes staff roles, floor plans of the White House and detailed instructions outlining what furniture is coming in, where it’s all going to be placed and everything the staff needs to know about making the White House feel like home.
In similar fashion, you can create a moving binder that will hold all of your moving-related paperwork. Things like checklists, rental truck agreements, an inventory of your existing items and labels for all your boxes.
It should include a budget for your move including moving supplies, truck rental and extra meals out that you might not normally need. Change of address forms and a recent statement from utility companies are also good items to keep in this binder.
Purge Before Packing
Set aside things you don’t want or need anymore and begin eliminating them. Sell them online, hold a garage sale or donate them.
After you’ve separated the “must-haves” from the “don’t-needs” then start packing. Purchase boxes or collect recycled ones and stock up on packaging materials. Do one room at a time during the weeks leading up to your move. Remember to set aside a box for kitchen and first-night supplies.
Transfer Your Services
Contact your utility, Internet and cable companies about transferring service to your new home. Submit change of address forms for bills you receive in the mail. Update subscriptions with your new address.
Prepare For Your Actual Moving Day
Just before moving day think through travel arrangements for your pets. Refill any prescriptions that might run low around the time you move. Do a final load of laundry so you’re not dealing with dirty clothes on moving day.
Take the box you set aside a few weeks earlier and pack an essentials kit filled with supplies you’ll need for the first-night in your new home. Things like shampoo, a change of clothes, a toothbrush, clean sheets and a towel.
When moving day arrives…execute the plan!
If you’re planning a local move here on The Space Coast or just coming into the area it doesn’t need to stress you out. Everyone has to move from time to time, even American presidents.
Just take a page from the White House playbook. Allow yourself plenty of time to prepare and stay organized.
Hitches or no hitches, by the end of the day you’ll be in your new home, ready to relax and with a feeling of great satisfaction you’ll be saying to yourself…“I did it!”
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