Moving is no easy feat. No matter how long you’ve lived somewhere, the amount of shit you accumulate over any given period of time is incredible. I pride myself on semi-minimalist status, yet every time I’ve ever moved, I am for sure a category five hoarder when I look at the donation piles that stack up. Besides that, the logistics, stress, and upheaval a move causes can be a recipe for some tequila shots and a hangover, paired with more unpacking the next morning. No bueno, amigo.
The good thing is that the act of moving, like childbirth, is one of those experiences where you quickly forget the awfulness of all those logistics and work and allow only the good memories of your new beginning, new home, and new environment take up brain space after the fact. What you eventually get from that move (or that birth) far outweighs the cons of what it took to get you there.
I just moved this past summer, from one home to another, in the same town. With three kids, a full-time job, and a mental load bigger than a Mac truck, the move really sucked. It’s like that meme I often see when people talk about going from two kids to three. You feel like you’re viciously treading water, taking some deep inhales of oxygen before your face goes under yet again, and then someone hands you a kid. That’s kind of how this past move felt. Take an already jam-packed life, and then add something slightly life changing, like uprooting all the things you own, love and need and trying to find them again in time to go back to work on Monday.
This move was suttle, if you can call an upheaval of your life that. It was 3 miles away from where we had been living. When I thought about the fact that just under three years prior we’d moved 3,000 miles cross country, I didn’t really believe it was something I could have done. I told you, you forget, which makes you crazy enough to do it again.
Because my cross country move memories have since been suppressed, I’ll give you the slightly sugar-coated version of what I remember that experience, along with the more recent PTSD of moving locally, in hopes that if you find yourself in these shoes, my tips will help you get from point A to point B without having a total breakdown.
First off, you need to hire movers, preferably a company that you know someone has used or has excellent Yelp reviews. My gay ex-boyfriend’s (true story, will save that for another post) family owns a moving company. We stayed on good terms and I immediately only thought to call them when we made the decision to uproot our lives across the US. Having the peace of mind that I knew and trusted this vendor helped take a small amount of stress off my plate.
Next, take the opportunity to purge. I wish I had done even more of this before we moved honestly. We’d lived in our home for two and half years before we moved cross country. If we hadn’t touched the contents of a box by then, why was I insisting on re-packing it and adding that weight to our bottom line costs to move it again? I did this at probably 50% capacity. I’m much better at this now that I follow more of the Marie Kondo way of life, thus my second move was slightly lighter (no pun intended).
There are so many logistics that go with moving, especially moving far away. Don’t forget to make time to move your emotional self too. What do I mean by this? Visit your favorite restaurant before you go. Make a date to see your friends. Get coffee from your favorite spot. When you don’t have those things near you, you’ll miss them. Your friends are a given, but your favorite spots maybe not so much. Take a minute to enjoy them before you go, even though your to-do list is as long as a Disney princess’ hair.
If you have an interim period between point A and point B, figure out the essentials you need for a week and find a comfortable place to stay. If you’ve got family around, stay there. If you don’t, find a hotel with a kitchen. Being in a one room hotel with kids and eating in restaurants for more than a week (especially when it’s not your vacation) is enough to push you over the move edge.
If someone can help you make the trip, take them with you. If not, hold them hostage and still take them with you. We were so incredibly fortunate moving both times to have our au pair move with us. Not having to figure out childcare and just having another adult to help with the trip, move, and mental load was such a blessing. If your childcare isn’t coming with (and most aren’t), can someone make the trip and stay the first few days to help you unpack, settle in, and soothe your kids when they freak out in their new environment? You will have so much to do, a warm, familiar body will be the best thing you can add to your list of things (or people) to bring.
Finally, you need to be cool with shit going wrong. Plan for it because it’s going to happen. Here are some examples of the shit that went down when we moved cross country (I promise you, these all happened, and I still lived to write this post):
My son went to the ER. Any visit to the ER is scary, but this one was especially frightening. For a few nights before we boarded our one-way flights, we stayed with family to avoid being in a new place without the comforts and car from home. My son is asthmatic and had a terrible reaction to the dander (from the dog) in the house we were in. He could barely breathe, so my husband and I rushed him to the ER for steroid shots. For the next four nights, I slept in a full-sized bed with two toddlers in a well ventilated and OCD scrubbed room. Sleep did not really happen.
We all got the flu. Within 24 hours of hitting the West Coast, we (every single person in my family, including our au pair), got the flu. I had four days to clean our new place, move shit in, go to Costco, attend preschool tours and get my nails done for my first day at my new job. The flu was not a welcomed addition.
Our car blew up, literally. For some reason that even our insurance company to this day cannot figure out, transporting our car cross country caused something to go wrong, very wrong with our car. My husband was driving it the day it arrived in California and heard a noise. On his way to the dealership to have it checked out, it starting smoking and caught fire. It was totaled and burnt to a crisp. Add buying two cars to the list rather than one-awesome way to start our West Coast life.
There you have it. I survived two moves in three years with three kids in tow. If I can do that, you can too. Remember, no risk-no reward. The hardest things we do in life are often the most impactful. I’d also say they’re unforgettable, but like I said, the struggles tend to get forgotten because the good parts push them out. And, there’s nothing wrong with that.