Personal experience often prompts my writing, and this post is no exception. As I type, my living room is box central. All the pictures and photos that made our house “home” have been taken down, leaving bleak-feeling barren walls. And our family is in a state of nervous excitement.
True, we are only moving 0.6 miles from our current location (and no one is changing schools), so the upheaval is not as profound as it could have been. But our current house must still be emptied of its many, many, many contents.
The last time I moved, we were a family of three, and my oldest was only 15 months old. At that point we were exploding out of our one-bedroom condo, in which our little guy seemingly had more seating options that we did.
I recall taking the idea of doing the packing ourselves immediately off the table, as I had zero bandwidth at the time for anything of the sort. I was barely sleeping, had just finished pumping, and was working hard in my job. Never mind that our 15-month old would have quickly unpacked any box we managed to fill!
That time around, we hired professional packers to come the day before our move. They were remarkably efficient. But it also meant that every last item came with us – even those things we no longer needed and that sat in boxes for the next 5 years.
This time, given we had about two months between finding out we were moving and the actual move date, we’ve been attempting to do the packing ourselves. This has the advantage of allowing for a LOT of purging of unwanted items. We’ve been donating a trunk full of stuff pretty much every weekend for the past 6 weeks, in fact. But it has been stressful, as it seems kids bring millions of objects into a home, many of which I didn’t even know were there.
Observations on Moving While Working Parenting
Here are a few things I’ve learned and observed while going through this process:
- Planning a move is a full-time job. On top of the full-time work job. On top of the full-time being a parent job. (And of course I already had 3 work trips scheduled for this period of time when we’ve been packing.) When I’ve gotten overwhelmed, I’ve been spending time looking back at past instances when I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish a big project or meet a big deadline, to reassure myself that somehow, it will all get done.
- Like having a child, a move is a major transition and a normal part of life, and should be treated as such. Work hours can be made up later. Other priorities and goals will simply have to wait.
- 6 and 8 year olds require a lot more explanation about a move than does a 15-month old. It took a few weeks for our 6-year old to fully process that a move was permanent. For a while, he really seemed to think we could move over to the new house for a few weeks, and then come back. Now, when he tells someone about the move, he declares, “and we are not moving back into our old house!” Seems he’s gotten the idea.
- Engaging your kids in the packing process can be really fun. Having them help write the names of rooms on boxes and decide what stays and what goes has really made the move more real for my boys.
- Engaging your kids in the packing process can be the biggest nightmare. Especially if you’re trying to purge and not just pack, enlisting the help of your little ones can be a recipe for disaster. (“I want to keep that!” “No, it’s mine, and I want to throw it away!!”) There’s a reason I packed our basement toy and game room myself, after the kids were in bed.
- If you’re looking for moving boxes, toy stores are excellent sources!
- Our village rocks. From loaning us plastic bins, to offering to take our children for a few hours so we can pack, our friends and neighbors have offered amazing support to us. If someone offers help, just say YES.
- Expect joy and grief at various points from each and every member of the family. Remembering that this experience is at once incredibly exciting and terribly sad has helped me be more patient with kid outbursts.
- The impending technology that will enable us to do one, secure, address transfer for all of our accounts and relevant contacts cannot come to the marketplace fast enough.
- Emotions within a family continue to be contagious during a move period. Parental self-care is NOT optional. It is required for the family’s sanity.
Have you been through a house move while working and parenting? Any sage advice you’d like to share? Post it below in comments, please! And wish us luck on moving day next week!
If you need more help getting your head in a better place to return to work after maternity leave, join us for the next session of Mindful Return.
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave.