In Ireland, we have a saying: “It’ll be grand.”
It’s used to deflect questions or concerns around the readiness or perfection of a situation. We say it to get people off our backs. And we say it to convince ourselves it’s ok to proceed despite a lack of preparation.
Sometimes things will be grand anyway. Other times it won’t be grand at all and we will rue our lackadaisical approach.
I am still lamenting my lack of preparation for my recent move. It was my sixth move since I sold my house in 2006. Anyone would think I do it for fun. I don’t.
I hate moving. Moving house is stressful. It is widely agreed that moving house is high up on the list of stressful events in our lives. Although it is an acute stressor rather than a chronic one, it can be considerably disruptive for weeks, or even months. The thing is, how disruptive it ends up being is largely down to how we approach it.
Over the years—and the moves—I have learned how to do it right. The problem is, despite knowing better, I don’t always do it right. On this last occasion I was pretty disorganised. And the disorganisation and ensuing chaos, along with a cold that hit me right in the middle of the move, left me whacked for the next ten days. And four weeks later, I still have a couple of boxes to unpack and declutter.
Although I knew what I needed to be doing in advance of the move, I kept putting it on the long finger until I eventually ran out of time. I put it off because I was (genuinely) busy and tired, but mostly because I dreaded the doing of it. Postponing it didn’t save me the task, it just made it more stressful to complete on time.
The thing is, I know this is another temporary move. I don’t know when or where the next one will be, but I’m not in my forever home yet. And the next time, I want to do it right. I want to minimise the impact a chaotic move will have on my physical, mental and emotional energy.
So I’ve decided to write down my own guidelines, for easy reference—to help imprint them more indelibly on my subconscious and to ensure that next time I follow them.
If you have an impending move, may they be of help to you:
1. Do an audit of all your furniture.
What do you have?
What do you need?
What do you love?
What will fit in to/with your new home?
Put simply, look at each individual item and honestly assess whether it needs to come with you. If it doesn’t, then what? Organize ahead of moving day for it to make its way to its new home, whether that’s a friend, a charity shop or a car boot sale.
2. Start packing well in advance and declutter as you go.
Leaving packing to the last minute will often result in everything having to be hauled to the new place before there is time to mindfully sort through all your books, clothes, cds, handbags, makeup, shoes, trinkets, jewellery, art and craft supplies, outdoor adventure gear and chipped crockery. This means more stuff to move, more time to move it and more time to unpack at the other end. (And the decluttering will still have to be done.)
3. Outsource as much as you can afford.
Cleaning, for example. When we’re moving out, almost without exception, we need to leave our old home shining like a new pin. And while it’s reasonable to expect our new home to be in that condition, it isn’t always the case. Sometimes—typically the case for me—we need to clean both our old and new homes. The need to clean before I can begin to make a new place feel anything sanctuary-like has reduced me to tears on more than one move. In the midst of packing, moving and unpacking mania, the need to clean as well can be overwhelming. So, consider hiring somebody to help ease that pain—and book them well ahead of schedule.
4. Get a man with a van.
No matter how many friends offer to help with car-loads, they can’t compensate for the difference a van that can fit all your furniture—and a strong man (or two) to lift it—will make to the whole proceedings. Having said that, gratefully and promptly accept all help offered by friends and make a plan for what they will help with and when. Winging it on the day could see you with less help available than if you had jumped all over the offer the second it was made.
5. Label all your boxes.
What’s in them and what room are they going to?
To some this would seem obvious and to others it would seem superfluous. Let me tell you, obvious is the right answer! Failing to do this can result in disastrous and time-consuming searches for needed essentials at the other end—contributing to feelings of overwhelm and the desire to cry.
6. Prepare the two most important boxes.
Put your overnight things—duvet, pillows, sheets, toiletries, pajamas, clean socks and underwear—into one box and your kettle, cups, tea/coffee, milk and snacks into another.
Unload the kettle/snack box first. Unload the overnight box second—you don’t want to be facing the need to make up the bed after you have run out of steam. As soon as you’ve fortified yourself with a cup of tea, make up the bed so that you’re ready to climb into it and fall into a well-earned sleep, at a moment’s notice.
Once these two tasks are complete, the rest of the unpacking can begin.
7. Get a takeaway menu for a selection of restaurants close to your new home.
You aren’t going to have the time, energy or clear worktop space to prepare home-cooked meals. And you’re going to need the fuel to keep the unpacking going.
Our homes are supposed to be our own personal sanctuaries—a place where we can relax and revive our drooping spirits and tired bodies. An organized house move will speed up the transition of a new house or apartment into our own restful retreat.
Happy moving to you. Follow these tips and it will all be grand.
Image: Sebastian Dark
First published on elephantjournal.com