Boxes packed in our old house

Three Things Thursday: Moving

Three Things Thursday is exactly what it sounds like — these Thursday posts will capture three things I’m thinking about at the time. It might be three things I’m loving at the moment or, like this first post, three things I’ve learned through an experience. I hope you enjoy!

Moving is exciting, with new opportunities and new adventures on the horizon. But it’s also one of the most stressful life experiences you can have, right up there with the death of a loved one and divorce.

I guess I can count myself as lucky for not experiencing a major move for the first 37 years of my life — I don’t count the 1-car-full-of-stuff moves into my college dorms or the 1-box-at-a-time-over-the-course-of-a-month approach to moving into our first house. Our move to Illinois was the first time my entire household got boxed up, loaded on a truck, and dumped in a new place.

Going through a major moving experience for the first time meant we made some mistakes. And I’m ok with those mistakes so long as we learn from them. Here are three things I learned through the moving process.

1. Purge First

After 10 years of living in a house, you accumulate some stuff. A lot of stuff. I tried my best to purge some stuff before our move, but we didn’t do nearly enough. What wound up happening is that a ton of stuff we hadn’t used in years and no longer needed/wanted made the move with us.

Moving unwanted stuff to our new house made the unpacking process that much more unpleasant and inefficient. We had to unpack stuff only to re-pack it to take it Goodwill. We had to maneuver around all the things we’d be donating as we tried to set up our new home. And we had to make several trips to Goodwill to get rid of all that stuff.

Unpacking progress in the kitchen

I will say that the not-so-fun process of unpacking made me a much more ruthless purger. I know that I’m a sentimental pack rat, so the stress of dealing with so many possessions that I no longer needed made it easier to part with things. And honestly, life in our new house actually feels better … lighter … without all of that extra stuff.

Bottom Line: Purge as much as you can BEFORE you pack and move.

2. Pack a Suitcase As If You’re Going on Vacation

I made a big mistake in this department. I didn’t really appreciate how quickly our moving process would go. Movers packed us on a Monday, loaded the truck on Tuesday, and dropped everything off at our new place on Wednesday.

The Sunday leading into the move, I set aside some clothes to get me through a couple of days. But I didn’t think about simple things like my toothbrush, shampoo, a hair brush. I left for work on Monday morning not really understanding how quickly movers can pack an entire house. And while Jason was there to manage the process, he had his hands full helping the movers throughout the house. It’s not his job to remember my toothbrush.

Boxes packed in our old house

When I got home on Monday after work, I was in shock over a whole house in boxes. And then it hit me that all the toiletries I needed were somewhere in those of boxes. This included my travel toiletry kit, which we didn’t unearth until a couple of weeks after the move.

Bottom Line: Pack a suitcase as if you’re going on a weeklong trip. Moving is stressful enough without forgetting your daily essentials.

3. Take Time Off

I really regret working through our move. I feel like I was of no help to Jason, who had to shoulder most of the burden of the move himself. My daily work stress was only exacerbated by the chaos at home (where ever home was that day). I was juggling way too many priorities that were bound to come crashing down at some point … and they did in a glorious meltdown after locking myself out of the new house with Jason already 30 minutes into his hour commute on a foggy, icy morning a couple of weeks after the big move.

I didn’t take time off because I didn’t have any time. And that’s a whole other story.

Bottom Line: Take whatever time off from work that you can to get through the move. You’ll thank yourself for it.

My goal for any future moves is to do better than I did on this first one. Although moving is inherently stressful, I believe there are ways to make a move feel more manageable. A few lessons learned this first time around should help.

What tips do you have for making moving less stressful?

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