Whether you're upgrading, down-sizing, or just relocating, moving is not easy. You have to find the place, the boxes, feel surrounded by chaos, and live in that unsettling limbo of "where did I put that?" As hard as it was for me, mentally and physically, as a youth and young adult, I never expected how much harder it would feel as a mom. I'm cranky and tired, leaving me with more mommy guilt and less energy than normal. Each stage of the moving process comes with different stresses, but they are manageable, knowing that the end is in sight. I hope sharing my experience might help you strategize and power through your own move.
Once you get it in your mind that it's time to look for a new place, you have a lot to consider. You think about prioritizing a list of needs and wants, likely you have to get some banking in order, and you might have to contact a real estate agent or a series of landlords for viewings. All these appointments can be difficult with a young one (or more) in tow, so plan accordingly.
- Stack your nights and get it over with: make multiple viewing appointments back to back, then eat out. By piling the misery, you get it over with faster, which is inevitably easier than spacing it out over the whole week.
- Get a sitter: if mom or the neighbour's daughter can watch junior while you talk fiances, take advantage. A cranky toddler at the lawyer's office was lesson enough for me.
Once you've found that new place, you're going to have to prepare to leave your current one. It's not as easy as a bachelor pad anymore - you've got piles of stuff to purge, hide, and store to make your place look appealing for the next tenant. This doesn't just apply if you are selling. Often landlords will want to show off your unit during your notice period so that it can be reoccupied as soon as you're out. This means leaving a clean and well cared for appearance, sometimes for multiple weeks at a time. This is a nightmare with toys and Cheerios as an accepted part of your living room landscape.
- Cut the clutter: be brutal and purge clothing, linen, toys, and kitchen items that you no longer need. Have a garage sale, make a donation, or take a trip to the dump. Move over the entire room, taking in to consideration how spacious and inviting the space appears. This might involve a little "faking" like hiding even frequently used appliances (toaster, coffee maker) into cupboards temporarily.
- Do the spring cleaning of all spring cleanings: a massive gut will make the daily chore list for unexpected viewings seem so much more manageable. Focus on your front entrance, kitchen, and bathroom especially. You might consider putting out nice towels or buying a new door mat.
If you've managed to live with things stored and hiding, packing isn't much harder. It's the unkempt and temporary maze that frustrates me most. Boxes in front of doors, markers, tape and newspaper at the ready. A clean, safe place to play starts to be harder to find. If you have a multi-roomed space, pick one room (or even a floor if you have it) to begin with and use for storage of boxes. Keeping the disorder to a minimum helps a little with finding room to have toys.
- Write big and use stickers: Whether you colour code, or just clearly label, make sure you know what is in a box once it's sealed. Do not go back in to that box for anything. If you are going to need it for a while, pack it last, but once in a box, that's it until the new place. Consider having a "1st day" box with things like cleaning products in an easily accessible tote.
- Exercise outdoors: If you're worried about space or safety, take a short trip to the park, pool, or even the mall to stretch out your legs before calling it a night. A cooped up kid gets restless, make it all the harder for both of you to stick to a sense of routine. At home, spruce up your playpen with a new toys, or a bag of balls, to make it a dynamic place to play out of harms way.
On the big day, don't be a hero. Plan ahead, and get some help. There must be people in your life that can help lug some boxes, or take care of the little one while you do the heavy lifting. Don't feel bad, divide and conquer! It's hard work, but friends and family are usually more than willing if you're able to return the favour one day! Order some pizza and cold drinks. Have a few laughs along the way. The more hands, the faster the job goes, and the less work it feels.
- Have a game plan: tell your designated care giver and/or movers when and where to meet. Give some guidance to make sure they know how best to help you (such as, "if you don't know where to put something, just put it in the dining room" or "boxes marked with H are really heavy.")
- Work hard, but work smart: be honest with yourself about what really needs to be accomplished immediately (emptying and returning the truck, setting up and making beds, etc). Once boxes and furniture is in the right general place, spend time cleaning and prioritizing the most important rooms, like the kitchen and bathroom.