We only have 4 suitcases, 4 carry-ons and 4 personal items we are allowed to take to China with us, so i've been thinking long and hard about the best ways to categorize, prioritize, and pack. And let me tell you, the frustration and discouragement of packing an entire family's life into suitcases has been unbearable! I can't tell you how many times I've packed, unpacked, and repacked our suitcases! I started packing early to get things out of the way. Since we were in the process of selling all of our belongings, this helped keep things a little more organized. I started with all of our winter/fall clothes that we wouldn't be needing before our move, and packed that all in to one bag. I then packed another bag full of medicines, hygiene products, and tastes of home" (ie a Christmas candle, taco seasoning, ranch packets, etc.). I felt pretty good about the progress, especially since it was months in advance, but as the months passed on and I started adding more to the packing pile, I just knew there was no way we were going to fit everything. I tried packing things in different ways, i used ziplock vacuum seal bags, and still, there was way too much stuff. I went through the same vacuum bags full of clothes over and over, looking for an item of clothing I didn't wear as often, or that didn't fit the kids, and got rid of POUNDS of clothes, but still, too much. Finally, with only days until our departure, Drew and I sat down, yet again, this time prepared to throw away as much as we needed.
A few months ago Drew and I decided to make ourselves capsule wardrobes, which to put simply means, having a color scheme of clothes, which are basic staple items in your closet that can mix and match for maximum outfit creation potential. We thought the concept was great for what we were doing, but were pretty relaxed about the number of items we added to it. We tried to keep it minimal, but when it came down to packing that night with Drew, just days before we left, we had to get strict (I'll be writing a post that goes in to more detail about our capsule wardrobes and exactly what we decided to bring).
After cutting our wardrobes down to about 33 pieces each, we were able to fit everything we needed. Drew and Grants clothes fit in to one suitcase, mine and Ellie's in to another, using any spare space, filling it with deodorant, seasonings, and other odds and ends. Our third suitcase contains ALL our shoes and medicines (with Ellie's asthma, extra space was required for medicine) and our last suitcase is any toys and books for the kids, school supplies, and extra hygiene items, shampoo for the first couple weeks, tampons, things like that.
My biggest take away from packing, has been that NOT EVERYTHING YOU LIKE MAKES THE CUT! Drew and I both threw out clothes we wear on a regular basis, and a couple of sentimental thing and all our Christmas items. I had a lot of anxiety getting rid of stuff towards the end, because I felt like there was nothing left to get rid of, but now that it's done, I feel relieved. It will be nice to start fresh. It's a very freeing feeling to give up everything in return for an identity that isn't revolved around 'things'. Its very satisfying and I'm excited for the new beginning!