Moving is stressful. In addition to the deadlines you have to make, there’s the uncertainty of pulling up stakes and moving to a new town – or a new state. And the more family members involved in the move, the more you have to be stressed about: Schools, jobs, finding friends, acquiring new doctors. The list is seemingly endless. But managing your move well will also help you manage your stress.
First, don’t wait to do things. Arrange for movers as far in advance as you can, ideally six to eight weeks before you move. Start packing three to four weeks out, and keep a to-do list with due dates for all the things, like connecting and disconnecting utilities, changing addresses, and updating insurance. Most importantly: Be ready when the movers show up to load and unload. Not being ready can mean delays, rescheduling, and big time stress.
Second, don’t do everything alone. Get your entire family on board with the packing schedule, including children who can have age appropriate packing tasks. Divide tasks as equitably as possible, and set rewards for the whole family if deadlines are met. Don’t be afraid to ask extended family and close friends for help if you find yourself running a garage sale, need to deliver donations, or just need a break. And pay for help if you need it, whether that’s paying for additional cleaning services or hiring out some (or all) of the packing.
Remember two important things: One, you don’t have to take everything with you. Taking the time to downsize and get rid of items you no longer need or want. Getting rid of physical clutter can have an improvement on your emotional state, so if you can’t come up with a clear reason to keep items, it may be worth it to donate or dispose of them. Two, erring on the side of getting rid of large items like furniture you don’t like and outdated appliances or electronics can save you money on your move, and allow you to update to newer, more up-to-date models.
Third, be open and up-front about any negative feelings you have around the move, and encourage your family to talk about what the move means. If you’re worried about finding replacements for services, activities and social connections, take the time to plan for how you’ll go about establishing new ones. If you’re moving for a job, there is nothing wrong with acknowledging that there is sometimes fear as well as anticipation in such a move. Above all, talk to your family, especially young kids and teens, about their feelings.
Fourth, take a break. Moving becomes all consuming, so be sure you get time to get away from it. Whether that’s as a family at a movie, festival or ball game, or some me-time with friends or binge watching your favorite show, it’s important to decompress. Admittedly, this gets harder as the move gets closer, so schedule some activities for that last week so you get the breaks you need. Exercise is a great stress reliever, so whether you get a long walk or your normal workout, stay active if you can.
Fifth, take the time to plan for contingencies like delays, bad weather, delays in getting into your new home, or a delay in your travel plans. When problems arise, you’ll be more flexible and adaptable if you’ve thought about what to do.
Finally, remember that moving is temporary, and even if it seems like it, and any problems that arise, will never end, they will. Whether it’s an issue with your furniture delivery, problems with your new home, or something else entirely, remind yourself that they are temporary and that the move will end. When things are really stressful, remind yourself of why you’re moving, and the benefits you hope to get out of the move.