5 Tips For Getting Through Moving Without Wanting To Hurt Someone

My husband is all about carefully wrapping and boxing things, and I'm prone to throwing stuff in the back of the car, unboxed and unlabeled, and then being heartbroken when something breaks.
Publish date:
January 24, 2013
home, moving, DIY, family drama

In two days, two DELICIOUS and GLORIOUS days, my family and I will pack up our stuff and move into a larger apartment.

This is gigantic for us, since we've been packed into 400 square feet for the past six months. This is also the fourth time we've moved since our son was born (he's about to be four), and the eighth time we've moved since my husband and I got married (six years in February), so, you know, moving -- I've done it a lot.

Moving is always a delicate song and dance for us. My husband is all about carefully wrapping and boxing things, and then clearly labeling the boxes so items can easily and logically be found, and I'm prone to throwing stuff in the back of the car, unboxed and unlabeled, and then being heartbroken when something breaks, confused when I can't find half of my shoes and annoyed when everything's messy and takes forever to unpack.

LUCKILY, in the last six years we've developed a bit of a rhythm. We have ideas about how to make moving work better for us, and about half the time we actually implement those ideas. Here's what's worked for us; maybe it'll work for you:

Figure out what you actually like to do.

Do you looooove writing and labeling and doodling on cardboard boxes? YAY! You can be the labeler! The thing about being the person who dishes out labels on boxes is that you also kind of need to be the packer, so that you know what you're supposed to write. This is why I never do this -– I don't mind labeling, but actually trying to figure out how to fit certain items into a box so that they'll a) maximize space and b) not break into a zillion pieces? That sucks.

Remember your best times of the day.

If you're a morning person and your moving partner is a morning person, then ta-da -- you should do most of your moving in the morning! In our case this logic always makes sense, but fuck me if we ever actually follow through.

Here's how it usually shakes out: we wake up in the morning and start making coffee. While the coffee brews and is consumed, we hash out all of these awesome plans about how much moving we're going to get done before noon. We then become prematurely proud of ourselves, already congratulating ourselves on coming up with this awesome plan that MAKES SO MUCH SENSE, and then we get distracted.

Like, oh, we should probably eat something before we do all of this moving. And, hey, I'd like to take a shower because that's what I like to do. And lookit, the kid's awake and now we need to rinse and repeat that whole breakfast thing. Before you know it, it's two in the afternoon and we're tired of being in the house all day, surrounded by empty boxes and all of our stuff, so we flee and vow to pack later that night.

Cut to: one in the morning, when we've packed three boxes, had three beers, and are watching re-runs of "Roseanne." Oops.

Set reasonable goals and stick to them.

The easiest moves have been the ones that we've really planned out. We've always known for at least 30 days that we're moving (yay for renting and landlord notices), so when we've actually stopped ourselves and said out loud, “Hey, if we start packing a week before our move date, we can pack in stages and it won't be so hectic!” -– surprise! -– we pack in stages and it's way less hectic. So if you have the luxury of knowing when you'll move out of one place and into another, you can pace yourself.

Be prepared for your plans to go wonky.

I realize this tip kind of flies in the face of the previous one, but it's worth mentioning. Our most recent move was from Alabama to Oregon, and we reeeeally thought we had that shit organized. We were going to split up -– my husband Sean was going to take a week or two and drive a U-Haul, our stuff, and two dogs across the country, and my son and I were going to spend extra time with family and friends and then fly across the day after Sean arrived. Theoretically, it was an awesome plan.

Then someone mentioned to us that it's not super-expensive to mail your stuff across the country. It can be, but since we didn't have a ton of stuff to begin with -- we were intrigued. Books can be shipped at a way cheaper book rate, and after getting rid of approximately 50% of the rest of our belongings (seriously), we realized a good portion of our stuff would fit in our TINY two-door hatchback, and the rest could be shipped. We canceled the U-Haul two days before we were supposed to pick it up (and just in time to avoid being charged), and Sean set out with the car loaded up.

The downer in this plan? I had to do the shipping of stuff. After three trips to the post office with like 10 boxes each time, I realized our genius plan wasn't quite as genius as we thought -– we saved like $600, which is amazing, but I dropped numerous boxes on various body parts and we still haven't shipped the gigantic box of records we left in Alabama. One day.

Be nice, be nice, be nice.

It is SO EASY to be extremely frustrated while moving. I've moved in all kinds of weather –- super hot, super cold, rain, snow, and so on –- and it sucks. It sucks when you spend all day loading and unloading, going up and down stairs, dropping stuff, losing stuff, not eating lunch, making sure your kid is happy and not bored/hungry.

You're more prone to bickering, and before you know it you're going back and forth with your partner and you're both pissed and you just silently and very passively aggressively continue to cram your belongings into boxes while muttering about one another under your breath. Right? Or that's at least happened to us.

The best remedy I've found is easy: take breaks. Take a BREAK when you're anxious or upset or feeling overworked. Go chill -– walk around the block, have coffee, do some meditation. Whatever works. You'll feel all renewed and rejuvenated, and you'll avoid starting a silly fight because you're exhausted.

There's no real reason why we've moved as frequently as we have -- in case you were wondering. We're a little sick of it, and hoping that this upcoming move is our last for a while.