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Lessons Learned To Avoid A Stressful Move

As a designer, she'd helped others move. But her own move proved a bigger challenge

It's been said that moving is one of life's most traumatic events, right up there with switching jobs and losing a loved one. Having experienced all three - and having just recently moved with a toddler in tow - I can honestly confirm that, yep, moving is pretty stressful.

We decided to move when our rent rose higher than what we were willing to pay for our apartment. But no one wants to pack and unpack, plus we faced the anxiety of transitioning our 2-year-old to new surroundings. So I decided I would control this move (and my anxiety about it) by devising the perfect moving plan.

The Not-So-Perfect Moving Plan

As an interior designer, I plan moves for my clients. I plan with contractors and furniture movers and closet designers. But when I had to plan a move involving my own space and things, my anxiety shot up. Add in a 2-year-old and a demanding business, and I was completely overwhelmed.

So I got super organized. I color-coded each room and moving box. I measured our new space and created a furniture layout plan. I even created a new filing system for all the papers we unearthed in the process of packing. Of course, none of that helped when our movers didn't follow my carefully color-coded plan. Let's just say that I wasn't a lot of fun to be around during our move.

Photo by FormFunctionNT - More closet ideas

If I could do it again, instead of striving for organized perfection, here are the things I would focus on.

Edit Early

I tell my clients to edit their home every year, advising them to go through closets, drawers and even take a critical eye to worn-out textiles. But I know that many of my clients probably don't do this — and the same goes for me.

When we had our son, life took over. My closets weren't edited for over a year. My paperwork wasn't neatly filed away. And my son's items seemed endless. Kids grow and, as a result, their toys keep changing, as do their clothes and accessories. This requires a constant state of swapping out items. If you don't keep up with it every few months, you'll be drowning in baby gear.

Photo by Manuel Sequeira Architecte D.P.L.G - Browse contemporary kids' room photos

When moving, start clearing out every room as early as possible - ideally months in advance and definitely at least one month ahead. Try not to get bogged down in the sentimentality of every item. Trust me, on moving day, you'll be glad you pared back.

Embrace the Chaos

This is probably easier said than done, but giving in to the turmoil of the move rather than resisting and trying to control it will go a long way toward saving your sanity. Moving is a chaotic process, and it takes a lot of time to emerge from the chaos. There's really no way around it.

So don't do what I did and have perfectionist expectations for getting everything done really fast. I cleared my schedule for a single week to tackle moving tasks. But that just wasn't enough time. Feeling short on time left me feeling stressed. I should have used a big red marker on my calendar to circle two months. With enough time, I might have actually enjoyed - or at least better tolerated - unearthing years of nostalgia and packing up boxes.

Photo by Envision Landscape Studio - Browse Asian landscape ideas

Look Ahead

One thing I realized through the move is that big changes can lead to a more productive path. And that's certainly true in our new apartment. Our closets are organized and less full, there's fresh paint on the walls awaiting new family photos, and my son loves discovering all the different places to play hide-and-seek. You can feel openness throughout our apartment.

And I, too, feel renewed energy. I look forward to our future here in this new home. I think if I'd deliberately looked ahead during the moving process and kept my eyes on our goal — to be settled and happy in our new apartment, as we are now - I would have been less of a stress case. But I'm comforted by the fact that not only did we survive the turmoil of moving, but we learned important lessons that will help it to be better next time around. After all, we're not done yet.

Photo by Stonebreaker Builders & Remodelers - Search traditional closet pictures



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