Jen Lawrence – Writer, Coach, MBA and Survivor. Contributor to 1010ParkPlace and Author of Engage the Fox: A Business Fable. Helping women rebrand in mid-life.
I’m currently in the middle of moving house. I’ve moved six times in eight years and, people, it never gets easier. There is something about putting all of your earthly possessions into boxes that is spiritually draining. And don’t get me started on the soul-destroying nature of switching over one’s internet.
Thankfully, this move is a happy one. I’ve had a couple of moves that were not: one on the heels of divorce and another, far worse, after I experienced abuse. Recently, I’ve had a few friends move due to major financial setbacks and, while it’s hard enough to move at the best of times, moving at the worst of times only adds insult to injury.
Being a bit of a moving master, in both good times and in bad, I’ve come up with some ways to ensure that you stay sane throughout your move and perhaps even grow a bit in the process:
Enlist the list.
First things first: a move is a huge, logistics-driven project. Even if you hate lists, you are going to have to embrace the list if you have any hope of completing the 956 things that need doing when changing your address. There are a lot of great lists available online. I use a moving spreadsheet that I’ve created over the years. Click here for your very own copy.
Don’t try to do it all at once.
I once completely unpacked a large house in three days, including hanging all of the pictures on the wall using a level: it nearly drove me insane. It does not have to be done all at once. The key things to set up immediately are:
1. The beds. So whatever time the physical move ends, you will have a place to sleep
2. The bathroom. Toilet paper. Soap. Towels. Enough said.
3. The kitchen. Focus on getting healthy, quick snacks in the fridge and set up that coffee maker already.
Set up whatever you need for breakfast and school lunches too so you can get into a routine as quickly as possible. Once these are set up, take your time to figure out where everything else should go.
One of the best things about moving is it forces one to declutter. This is why unless it is a long distance move with a lot of opportunity for breakage, I’m not a fan of using professional packers. I’d rather handle each item and think about what things I want to carry into the next stage of my life. I give away things that no longer suit my life, using Marie Kondo‘s litmus test: Does it spark joy? If not, allow someone else enjoy the item while it still has some life left. Kids should be encouraged to pack their own rooms for this same reason: learning to let things go is a key life lesson.
Take the opportunity to reinvest yourself.
Moving is a chance to live life differently. Perhaps you are moving because you’ve had a new baby: this is pretty straightforward and as long as you remember to bring the new baby to the new house, you are golden. Other moves are less straightforward. Let’s say you are a woman in mid-life moving after divorce. Perhaps now is the opportunity to toss out the proverbial wagon wheel coffee table and surround yourself with things you love. Consignment stores will buy your gently used pieces and will often give you a great deal if you buy their gently used pieces in return. When I moved into a little 1920s house, I filled it with 1920s mahogany small-scale furniture by trading in all of my larger scale pieces. The new look suited my new life and I was not surrounded by painful reminders of the past.
Establish new boundaries.
If you are moving to a new town or neighbourhood, you get to be a whole new you. Before you take possession, decide what version of yourself you want to present to all of these shiny new people. Now is the time to think about boundaries. Perhaps at your last house, you were the go-to person to look after everyone’s pets and plants. If that no longer works for you, set that boundary. Perhaps you are moving closer to the school, and you now want your home to be the place where your children’s friends gather after class. Stock your fridge with snacks, set up the Xbox, and get to know the other parents. Moving has a bit of a clean slate effect so think about how you want to live going forward.
Most importantly, set up a time to celebrate the move. Put some bubbly on ice, and make a date to host an open house at your new place. Moving is a lot of work and you should celebrate your accomplishment.