ou’ve probably heard that saying by Dorothy Parker about writing: “I hate writing. I love having written.” It’s the same with me and moving. “I hate moving. I love having moved.” I hate the fact that our house is turned upside down before the move. I hate the juggle of trying to fit in last minute adventures and saying goodbye to friends while also making sure all the To Do List tasks get completed. (Oh, and I hate those goodbyes, too.) I hate the stressful last 24 hours when we’re trying to get everything absolutely clean and packed away, racing against the clock before we do our walk-through with the landlord.
But once all that stuff is behind us? I can honestly say I love having moved. I love the satisfaction of looking at an empty apartment knowing that WE DID IT. I love the feeling of having tackled the beast and getting another imaginary “I’m an adult” badge for our imaginary sashes. I love getting road trip time with Bobby, heading to our next adventure. I love exploring our new home – or saying hello, once again, to a familiar place as is the case with our summer and fall in Vermont. I love looking around our new home and brainstorming new projects to fill the spaces.
As we were undergoing this last move out of Miami, my sister suggested that I keep tabs on any moving tips and tricks and write about them. Each time we move, I do think we get a little bit better and slightly more effective. Here’s what I learned this time around:
1) JUST SAY YES TO MULTI-TASKING.
I get easily overwhelmed with moving. It’s a mammoth task, particularly at the beginning when I’m staring at a complete, lived-in home and know that EVERYTHING has to be dismantled. My only rule for myself during this stage is, “Just keep moving.” (Pun semi-intended.) If my motivation starts to flag on one task or I get stuck because I just don’t want to think about sorting all those papers/craft supplies/kitchen tools at that present moment, I allow myself to move on to another task. Yep, I just leave half-finished tasks all over the house.
I’ve realized that if I force myself to do these tasks start to finish, it feels like drudgery and takes me twice as long than it does when I’m in the zone. Ultimately, it ALL needs to get finished, so having multiple things on the go is fine. Better to keep moving and start on another task than feel stuck or plop on the couch and watch Parks and Rec for the next several hours (I won’t say I wasn’t tempted…).
2) JUST SAY NO TO MULTI-TASKING.
It’s opposite day! I know this is completely contrary to the advice I JUST wrote for rule number one. Here’s the deal, though: it’s all about where you are on the moving timeline. In the beginning stages, I give myself total permission to flit around from task to task. When it gets down to crunch time, I shift gears and this becomes the law of the land.
Bobby can be credited with this approach – when we got down to our final few days in Miami, he suggested we go room by room. It turned out to be a genius idea. We systematically started on our top floor in the farthest room – the bathroom – and got everything out and in boxes. We cleaned everything so that it sparkled. Then we didn’t step foot in that room again. After that, we moved on to the room next to that one and continued in this fashion throughout our whole apartment. By the end of this, we were basically sleeping on a blow up mattress in the kitchen, but that was fine.
Put your head down, and grind out one room at a time. It works wonders.
3) START THE DEEP CLEANING EARLY.
Not to brag or anything, but I’m really good at deep cleaning. When I was little, I used to love cleaning the baseboards of our house while rocking out to James Taylor on the cassette player walkman (I’ve been an old soul for a long time). I still love rocking out to James Taylor, and I still get immense satisfaction from staring at a clean baseboard or a spotless fridge. I try to tackle spots that even most professional cleaning people might gloss over – like in between the slats of our closet doors:
Bobby and I are INTENSE about getting our security deposits back so deep cleaning always happens. I would so much rather put in hours of elbow grease and get thousands of dollars back than do a lackluster job and possibly leave money on the table. The timing of that deep cleaning is going to start changing, however.
I’ve always left the deep cleaning to the very last week. After all, you want it to be spick and span when the landlord walks through, right? As I was scrubbing away dust with an old toothbrush, though, I started to realize that I could have boosted our happiness levels by doing this deep cleaning at least a month before we actually moved. This would have had two huge positive effects: we would have had time to actually enjoy the fruits of my labor and I could have spaced out tasks and done one per day instead of feeling like a cleaning machine during the last few days.
We still would have been left with some surface-level cleaning at the end, but it would have been fast and painless. Definitely implementing this rule for our next move.
4) BE OKAY WITH THINGS LEFT UNDONE.
You are not Superwoman/man. And that’s okay. I had SO many plans to get together with people “one last time” before we left. We were going to have people over for drinks, go out for coffee with some of the friends we made in Miami, host a themed-dinner, go on a date to listen to Thursday night music at the bookstore. So many plans! None of them happened!
Bobby and I even had plans to go on a day trip to the Florida Keys a couple days before we pulled out of Miami. We hadn’t been to the Keys all winter – it was so close, how could we pass up that opportunity? Because it would have been insanity, that’s why. We scrapped the plan as we started to realize that it just wasn’t going to be relaxing. Yes, we could have checked something off the bucket list – but we would have sacrificed our peace of mind and brought in excess stress for our final move-out day. Not worth it.
I continue to grow in this area, giving myself more grace and leeway with each move. It’s made a big difference.
5) BE KIND.
This is a rule for life, really – but moving, too. Kindness begets kindness and that kind of karma can be invaluable during a move.
Allow me to illustrate: Bobby and I had rented a second floor storage unit because it was significantly less expensive. Over the phone, we had been told that there were stairs going up to the unit. We had our pallets to move from our pallet bed and pallet couch – so it wouldn’t be the easiest task to navigate those up stairs but it also was far from impossible. Definitely worth the savings. (May I point out that Bobby and I are quickly becoming storage unit connoisseurs? We are kind of collecting them across the country…one in New Orleans…this one in Miami…certain things stored with both sets of our lovely parents in North Carolina and South Dakota. Rest assured, there is a method to our madness even if it sounds crazy.)
Well, when we arrived at the storage unit in person, we realized that the “stairs” were actually a moving step ladder with a broken lock mechanism. Bobby still thought we should go for it. Here’s where kindness saved the day: we were super nice and agreeable to the man who helped show us the unit. Even when he looked at us like we had lost our minds when we told him most of the unit would be taken up by pallets (“Pallets? You made FURNITURE out of them? I just threw away two pallets this morning!”), we just laughed and joked with him that yes, we may be a little crazy.
We gradually worked out way into Enrique’s heart because when we pulled up with our first load of pallets, he offered to help lift them up to Bobby, thus eliminating the need for the ladder. Amazing! He even helped unload them from the car. On top of this, he invited us to go out to the casino with him which means we are officially friends. (We didn’t take him up on this, but loved the offer nonetheless.) Enrique, we’re your biggest fans!
Basically, being kind paid off in such an unexpected way and made our day so much easier. Kindness can be easy to abandon during the stress that a move brings so I think it’s good to make it into an actual rule. Kindness is where it’s at, friends!
Five simple rules that we’ll be following for future moves – along with these pointers I synthesized last November.
Any rules for moving that you’ve developed? It’s so nice to be back with you all!