Moving With Kids
Before and after a move, there are plenty of rather predictable steps to make things easier. And then there are those other, more elusive things that only veteran moms can share. So stop and pay attention. After moving 22 times in 23 years of marriage, I’ve adopted several habits when faced with a move to help reduce the risk for emotional meltdowns—and I’m not just referring to the kids here. Moving well takes a lot of composure and having insider-knowledge will only help you be a better person (read: less crazy) through the chaos. If you’re lucky, you may even do it gracefully. Forgetting to pack the hysterics will be the best thing you do in your move.
So when the ink on your new job contract has dried and the likely move morphs into the category of certainty, it’s like the start of the recent Indy 500 (yes, I’ve lived in Indianapolis and know what I’m talking about): there’s so much noise and confusion you can hardly hear yourself think. So digest this now, before the drivers start their engines.
1. Start hoarding boxes, bags and newspaper. As soon as you know for sure that you’ll be moving, immediately start squirreling away random boxes and all types of plastic and paper bags. These items become your best friends as you begin the chore of purging. You’ll be sneaking things out of the kids’ rooms to deposit at Goodwill. Apologize later—as in, when you’re moving them into their new rooms. It’s pretty likely they’ll not even notice the missing stuff.
Neither will you miss the stuff you part with. Lighten up, stuff really does weigh you down.
You’ll be making hard decisions about consigning something quasi-valuable and sentimental—like maybe the dusty dated china you received long ago as wedding gifts. (Eeerp, nope, I haven’t done that yet. But maybe you will.) You’ll be transporting bags of hardly-worn clothing your recently sprouted 14-year-old son outgrew to best friends with tweens. You’ll be taking older towels and linens to a nearby shelter. You’ll be carting unwanted books, DVDs and CDs to Half-Price Books. Getting rid of stuff brings a tingling sense of liberation. Stop and enjoy that moment when it descends on you.
And even if you’re lucky enough to have the company pay for full-moving services, you’ll probably want to pack some personal things yourself. Ziplock bags are great for your bathroom closet. Wine boxes from the grocery are terrific for personal journals and sensitive folders with confidential documents you’d rather pack yourself. Be ready and have these supplies around.
2. Locate every permanent marker in the house. Track down every last Sharpie you already have and then look out for sales so that you have an ample supply. In this case more is better. Go nuts. Permanent markers help save you time later because you’ll be more likely to label those boxes and bags with as much detail as you have the energy for. Label your heart out—the wordier the better. When you arrive and you’re looking at a neatly folded mattress pad tucked into zipped plastic storage bag, you’re better off knowing if it’s a queen size for the guest bed or two singles for the kids’ beds before you open it up. Don’t even be tempted to think your recall will be helpful. Trust me, your recall won’t show up in time to be remotely helpful. In fact, it may not even make the move.
3. Packing tape: you can’t have too much of it. Packing tape allows you to keep things from getting separated. Sometimes the movers will get it all done perfectly and every little screw or attachment will not only arrive (that’s generally not the problem) but will be found. Mostly, various bits & bobs will tend to be illogically packed so you’re on a scavenger hunt to make your various household goods whole. And sometimes, things just don’t show up. I screwed up on this latest move to Austin. I should have taped over the newly-replaced battery for our daughter’s wall-clock to keep it from jiggling lose in the hands of the packers. The clock showed up just fine, minus that damn battery. You get what I mean. This stuff doesn’t rise to the level of major but it’s amazing how when multiplied, all of these little missing parts can cost you time, money and your beloved sanity, which will already be in short supply.
4. Stash an arsenal of paper-plates within reach. And plastic spoons and forks. And paper-towels. Your kids are not going to be thinking about how their kitchen messes become a bigger problem as your moving date nears. Take charge and give yourself a break. Restrict use of glassware and go disposable so that you’re not stuck the night before the packers come with some late-night dishwashing party. By this point, your dishwasher should be verboten; hand-washing it will be, a party you’ll wish you could skip. Avoid this scenario by using paper-products the week of your move. You may just be a little less crazy because of it, and your teens will definitely think that’s a good thing.
5. Got gardening gloves? Use them. Cardboard is not your friend, moms. When you’re faced with mountains of boxes, you’ll feel like you may just survive the move if you have your garden gloves to protect your poor hands as they handle vast quantities of that hostile material. Also, handling sharp scissors and/or box-cutters when you’re teetering from exhaustion is dangerous. It’s easy to nick a finger and having even a humble pair of gardening gloves will provide a small degree of protection.
6. Bonus tip: Keep Band-Aids handy. No need to ask why. As you unpack, someone will need one. Trust me. And blood, dirty cardboard and newspaper or packing paper don’t mix. Unpacking towels and smearing blood on them isn’t cool. Stop the flow, stop whining and move on…
About Kathryn Streeter: Kathryn Streeter’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including Story|Houston, The Good Men Project, Scary Mommy, BLUNTmoms and Mamalode. The Briar Cliff Review, Volume 26 includes Streeter’s essay, a finalist in their Creative Nonfiction Contest. Connect with Kathryn on her website, Twitter or Facebook.
This post originally appeared on Erma Bombeck’s site.
Latest posts by Kathryn Streeter (see all)
- Dear Teenage Son: Thoughts On Our Marriage For Your Future - September 30, 2015
- Stop Whining: What to Expect When You’re Expecting To Move With Kids - June 12, 2015