If you don't know what TMO stands for, just think of it as a moving company. I'd rather not go into any more detail than that.
I by no means consider myself to be a seasoned veteran in my career as wife-of-dude-whose-job-I-try-not-to-mention, but I've been doing this a few years now so I do have just a few words of wisdom for you if the thought of TMO makes you crave a large glass of wine.
Basically the movers are going to come pack up all your stuff. Technically you're not supposed to pack any of it yourself, because they can be held liable if it breaks so they like to do it. In my family that means three large, strange men who may or not speak English take over my home for three to four days. I've done it by myself, with my husband, with one child and with three children, and I have a game plan.
Last time I had a three-week-old and my husband had been gone for three months so my house was A DISASTER. Nothing was in its place and shit was just thrown in boxes. I wasn't worried about it at the time but unpacking was a total nightmare. I had countless boxes labeled "stuff," "bedroom," "clothes," and "sewing machine" when at the time I did not own one. What stuff? Which bedroom? Whose clothes? It was chaos. We are still missing things.
For this reason I have endeavored to be more organized. I got smart. And here is my advice.
GOLDEN RULE: Do not overestimate your moving men. I hate to make generalizations of this nature, but there is a reason they are moving men and not neurosurgeons. Maybe there are moving men who really did aspire to this their whole lives, got college educations, and are perfectly competent, but I fear you are more likely to get the other ones. The ones who don't give a shit whether it's your grandmother's vase or a granola bar they are wrapping up to put in a box. The ones who don't think maybe they shouldn't put your wallet in a box, or drop that piano on your baby's head. Make it easy for them.
#1: Decide what you do not want them to pack and get it out of your house. This is to include but is not limited to: Your car keys, diaper bag, trash, open boxes of food, your carry-on ready to go to the airport, your luggage you plan to check, your toothbrush, the shoes you plan to wear that day, anything that does not belong to you, pets and small children. Putting it in a spot and labeling it may not be enough. It has not worked for me in the past. At all. It has to leave the house. Put it in your car. You may think it's okay to leave your candles out, because they should know they are not supposed to pack those, right? Wrong. That's fine if unpacking your candles would be a pleasant surprise to you but if it melts all over your throw pillows, you won't be happy.
#2: Do not clean. That's right, I said do NOT clean. Unless I am wearing it or eating off of it, it does not get cleaned in the two weeks before TMO comes. I don't mean de-cluttering, I mean scrubbing. They are going to track their muddy feet all over your house and touch every door handle with their dirty hands, and probably use your toilet. Wait until they've gone to clean the house. Yes, it would be better to spread out the cleaning over a few days, but it's probably not going to happen. Luckily my current landlord does not require me to clean windows (YEESSSSSS!).
#3: Put everything where it belongs. (De-cluttering, not cleaning.) They are not going to see a toy in your bedroom and think to themselves, "Hmm, maybe I should put this in the same box as all the other toys." Refer to the golden rule. They are going to shove it in the box with your pillows. When you're desperately searching for the toy in your new house, you won't know to look in the box with your pillows. Put it where it goes. Because of the state of my house the last time we moved, I had countless boxes labeled "stuff." It SUCKS to unpack a box of "stuff." They weren't kidding, either. It was random crap from all over my house. PUT IT WHERE IT GOES.
#4.: Consolidate. I am putting all of my bathroom stuff in one bathroom. That way when I unpack the box labeled "bathroom," I will know exactly what is in it. I won't have to wonder which bathroom they got the stuff out of. Put all your blankets in the same place. All your craft stuff in the same place. All your purses in the same place. All your books in the same place. When you open a box labeled "purses" and the one you're looking for isn't in there, it's a bummer.
#5: Label rooms. "Bedroom" is not an acceptable description to me when we have 5. I labeled our rooms "Baby," "Girls," "master," "office," and "playroom." Knowing which room the box came out of makes it a lot easier to determine what room it goes into in your new home.
#6: Label stuff. A cricut isn't a sewing machine, a bumbo isn't a helmet, a bouyancy control device isn't a life jacket, and an oriental room divider is not a screen. If things are not properly documented, and they go missing, you cannot claim there was an original Picasso in the box if they wrote "child's fingerpainting." Refer to the golden rule.
#7: Get your kids out of the house if you can. Your husband would rather deal with the movers all day by himself than handle three kids running all over the place. You two-year-old doesn't understand that it's not nice to trip someone carrying a couch. And who are we kidding....if you were home with them, you would just be keeping them busy all day, so why not get yourselves out of the way? Go to the zoo. Go to the park in another state. Just go.
#8: Buy them lunch. They might treat your stuff better, and they won't have to go out to lunch for two hours.
#9: Know what you are entitled to. They are supposed to unpack your boxes and take the packing materials with them. In Germany this was a big deal because of their recycling laws. I didn't want to dispose of the boxes myself, and had nowhere to keep them, so I asked them to unpack. They proceeded to literally turn a box of books upside down in my living room. I decided I didn't want them to unpack the kitchen....
At your destination, they will give you a checklist and you are to check off every box as it comes in. CHECK OFF THE LIST. Do not let them leave if your stuff is not all accounted for. You are entitled to this.
These little things will not alleviate all your problems. They will still put ONE purse in a box FULL of clothes, and label it "purses." They will still crumple your custom tapestry into a box and label it "throw rug." But this might just make it that much better.
Good luck to my fellow spouses :)