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Moving? Tips from a survivor…

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Our living room in the midst of our pack-out

June 30, 2014     As I said in a previous post, leaving our home (for the past seven years) in China was an experience filled with an amazingly long list of things to do and a multitude of emotions. However, that process is now over. We said our goodbyes, took our photos, did many of the “lasts” on our list, took care of finances, insurance needs, police checks, selling our car and then watched the movers neatly pack up our lives into big brown boxes and put them on a truck to be shipped to the other side of the world. So, with that in mind, I thought I’d share some things I learned along the way – things that I’ll plan to keep in mind for our next move – and things that possibly could be helpful to anyone else planning a big move in the future. In no particular order…

Pace yourself and start early! In fact, start much earlier than you think you need to. I started with clearing things out in our house bit by bit way back in Feb, which helped enormously. However, I didn’t anticipate how much stuff I wanted to go through in my office and found myself hurriedly sorting through files and packing boxes that just barely made it on the truck, all while fighting some sort of stomach bug. Which brings me to the next point…

Try to stay healthy. For me, getting enough sleep and eating well are two of the biggest factors that affect me in terms of fending off illness. Regular exercise helps too, though I always find that the hardest to keep up. Simple ideas but they’re much easier said than done when there is so much to do and not enough time to do it in. And besides taking care of your body…

Figure out what helps you manage your stress. Is it taking a short walk in the evening? Keeping up with your fitness routine? Talking with a friend? A good foot massage? Screaming into a pillow? Meditation? Taking a hot bath? Whatever works for you, plan to do it on a regular basis and start before things really start piling up.

Get ‘business’ cards made with your new address, email, phone numbers, Skype/Instagram account names, etc. It makes things easier when you are saying goodbye to people to just whip out a handy dandy card with all your details.

In some way, let the important people in your life know what they have meant to you. It may be a while til you see them again (if you are able to see them again) and, in my mind, the relationships we have in our lives are some of the most important things to honor. It could be a short note, a party, time spent doing something together, or just a heartfelt conversation, but however you do it, I doubt you’ll regret taking a little time to do so. (Side note: this is an important thing for kids to do, too, but they may need a bit of support in figuring out the best way to do this.)

Try out an app like Trello that lets you organize projects and collaborate with others. A friend/colleague of mine introduced me to this (thanks, Rob C!) and this allowed Rob (my husband) and I to both have access to the same ‘to-do’ list. We could add items, see what was being worked on and who was working on it, and move them to our ‘completed’ list when finished.  It definitely helped a lot to make sure important things didn’t get missed and that work wasn’t duplicated.

Create a planning calendar for the last few months. If you have kids, involve them too. Find out what kinds of things everyone would like to try to do before leaving (eat at a favorite restaurant, see that famous site you’ve put off seeing for years, plan birthday parties, sleepovers). It’s amazing how fast those weekends get booked up in the last few months before leaving. It’s also important to realize that, despite your best intentions and planning, you still probably won’t get everything on the list done, which leads to my last thought…

Be kind to yourself and to your family members. Lives are in flux, emotions may be running high, the house is a mess, time is short, and everyone is just doing their best. It won’t all go smoothly, there will surely be hiccups along the way, you’ll forget to do something and want to just kick yourself, your spouse will forget something and you’ll want to kick him/her (figuratively, of course!), but soon it will all be over. One way or another, you’ll all be on a plane and what got done, got done, and what didn’t, didn’t. And, amazingly, life will go on and it will all be ok.

And so with that bit of closure, it’s time to look ahead to the next chapter. But, lucky for me, before that happens we have summer! You see, if you work in a school, at the end of the school year you are given the gift of time – time to relax, to recharge, to think, to do things you’ve been meaning to do, (and yes, time to feel guilty about the things you meant to do but didn’t), to plan ahead for next year, to learn something new, to see friends and family, and to break away from your typical routine. All this is much needed right now!

I know that many of the people reading this have gone through similar transitions so if you have some tips/suggestions to add – things that worked for you – please do!! I’d love to hear them b/c as you know, we’ll be in transition mode again one short year from now. OMG!!!!