Three days ago, my husband, two kids, ages 2 and 5, and I moved into a new house. While we love our new abode, the process of getting there? Well, that was a special level of hell. Pre-marriage and -kids I moved a lot, and although it was stressful, it was also exciting, an experience that usually meant a new job, a new school, or a newly committed relationship. I had so little baggage. I'd pack up my few pieces of furniture, my many, many pieces of clothing and accessories, and head off to my next adventure, where I'd rearrange my stuff for a few hours and go out for a glass of champagne.
This move was just a little different, involving two months of decluttering, searching for a new house in an expensive market, selling our old one, packing, dealing with insane financial stresses, demo, construction, kids who think construction zones are a great place for a game of hide and seek . . . you get the picture. Now that the major work of the move is over (I'll probably get through those garage boxes in a year or two), and I have a minute to think, I came up with a list of what moms really need to get through a move with kids. Will my checklist get you smoothly from one house to another? Nope, but it might just preserve your sanity.
- DON'T MOVE! Seriously, is your current house/town/master bathroom really that bad? Could you live with it for a few more years, or at least until your kids are out of diapers/braces/high school? If so, maybe you should stay because, unless you can afford to hire someone to do literally everything for you, moving is going to be seriously unpleasant. Like, way, way worse than you think.
- Still want to move? OK, but consider moving across the street, or five houses down. Definitely not more than 15-20 minutes away. You can take all that breakable stuff over in loads, saving yourself hours of newspaper and bubble wrapping. Unpacking will be half the work because you'll be able to see everything, and you can start setting up your kitchen early, meaning you'll know where the sippy cups and toaster oven are on moving day.
- Moving farther away? Throw away and donate as much as possible, and force yourself to pack a room a day, preferably with an alcoholic beverage. Seriously, no matter where you're moving, stock up on cases of wine. You'll need them, and the empty boxes are great for small stuff.
- Give yourself at least a week between closing and moving in. Schedule any work (from painting to construction) to start right away. The more you can get done before your kids are rubbing up against freshly painted walls or playing with a table saw, the better. If you live close enough to check in on construction daily, do it. Contractors are great; not having to pay for their mistakes is even better.
- Put the diet on hold. No one has time to cook healthy meals during a move; plus, you'll need some grease and carbs to balance out all that wine you'll be drinking. Tell yourself that a combo of packing boxes and stress will ensure no weight gain whatsoever. Then wait a month or two to step on a scale.
- Finally, know when to take a break. After three 12-hour days of packing, moving, and unpacking, yesterday I found myself sitting with my son, reading an US Weekly from two weeks before, and feeling anxious about it. I still had boxes to unpack, our old empty house to clean, pictures to hang . . . shouldn't I be doing something? I felt like a prisoner who had just been released and didn't know how to return to normal life (if you've moved with kids recently, you'll understand I'm not even being dramatic). But instead of going back to the moving madness, I took a deep breath, poured myself the last of my stash of moving wine, and let myself sit down and chill for an hour. Moving sucks, but it doesn't last forever . . . except for those garage boxes. Those are probably going to be there for a very long time.