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!
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I am in the midst of my second move as a parent. The first move I had JUST given birth with my second child. My baby was only 6 weeks old (my oldest 20 months) when we actually moved, but the sorting/packing/selling the house was going on before, during and after birth. The whole process was a complete blur for me. I couldn’t really process what was happening. It required a lot of pre planning. We had the schedule going for months ahead of time (literally, we moved in May but started planning in December). And btw, this was a cross country move. One of the things that helped us was that my husband made an early trip with a lot of the stuff we didn’t need a month before the big move. We rented a uhaul and a storage shed and he made the trip while I stayed home with the new baby. This helped to de-clutter the house which was essential to selling it.
For the actual move we enlisted the help of family, who I am blessed flew all the way out to help us (it helped that we were moving back to where they all were). My mom and I flew with the kids to our destination because there was no way I could drive that far with a new baby. Imagine how long it would have taken if we had to stop every two hours to feed her?? My husband, father, stepfather, brother and brother-in-law drove all of our stuff up.
We have been staying with my mom and stepfather while we build a house. Happy to say in just a few weeks we will be moving in. It’s been 10 months (way too long), but we have to go through the packing and moving process all over again. My oldest is now 2 and a half, and my youngest is going to turn 1 next week. We have been taking them over to the house as much as possible, telling them that it is our new house and we will be moving in soon. My oldest is excited.
I think that hardest thing about this move is that I have to start all over with a lot of stuff. There were a lot of things that we had sold so we wouldn’t have to move it and store it for a year (all of our living room furniture). I have no food of my own, cleaning supplies, etc. I have to completely restock.
I am planning on taking two days off before our scheduled move day (on a Saturday) and the following Monday off. That way I can use the two days before to finish packing and buying all the stuff that I will want to stock my kitchen with, and then the Monday after (while the kids are at daycare) to organize and settle in.
WOW, Stacy – that is a LOT in a short period of time! Congrats on your upcoming new house, and best of luck with your own upcoming move. Agree that taking a few days off to sort things out is essential. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.