Spoiler Alert: there’s no cliffhanger.
We’ve been in the new place about two months now. 99% of the empty boxes have been picked up by friendly neighbors, additional shelving/storage installed, pictures hung, a few rooms painted - we even managed to host three separate Thanksgiving gatherings for friends and family (yes, three). The smaller space is far more functional in so many ways, and as opposed to feeling cramped we feel we have indeed "traded up." That said, it may be evident due to the lack of recent posts that the whole move was far more taxing than even I expected. I now have a bit of breathing room to reflect, and I've learned (or been reminded of) a few good lessons.
We might even dub them “The Smartest and Dumbest Moving Thing Awards."
First Place: The absolute Smartest Thing I Did was set up and thoughtfully organize the kitchen first. Before dishes, cast iron skillets, or the Zojirushi came out of their boxes I lined shelves and drawers and took some extra time to contemplate where everything needed to go. I set one of my favorite recipes on the counter and did a walk-through of how I would go about cooking in the space. Where would I naturally reach for the garlic press? Where is it easiest to grab a glass mixing bowl? I used sticky notes to play with locations, and if a cabinet or drawer didn’t have an apparent use I held off on making a decision. We still have one high-up space that doesn't have anything at all in it, but I've intentionally left it clear.
I had the advantage of being able to do this project before we entirely moved in, but even if you go through a quick move-out-of-one-and-into-another situation, it is time well spent to stop, pause, and get things right in the heart of the home. Twelve years ago when we moved into the previous house, I had a three-year-old and an eight-month-old, and I neglected the kitchen setup due to overwhelm. Looking back I wish I had hired a sitter for a couple of days and focused on it, because despite rearranging it numerous times I never felt I had it completely right. I'm convinced that my effort this time around was the primary reason that the three aforementioned Thanksgiving celebrations didn't stress me out in the least (I didn’t even blink when our teenaged daughter asked to have eight of her friends over).
Smartest Thing Runner Up: springing for cabinets and shelves installed in the main living areas and the laundry room. This kind of thing just makes me happy:
The prize for The Dumbest Thing I Did goes to: waiting to unpack my office last. Reasoning that my workspace would be so easy due to all of the paper I had purged (see the last Episode), I left the boxes sitting for several weeks while I busied myself with folding towels and fitted sheets just the right way in the linen closets. Now I realize what I was really doing - avoiding it. My office is tough for me, for the same reason any highly personal space can be tough for my clients. But the prices I paid for this avoidance included not being able to find my business cards (of course I unearthed them the day after I reordered), spending way too much time tracking down a set of presentation materials, and just generally feeling jumbled when I headed out the door each morning. All of these issues hit right at one of my busiest times of the year. Why did I put myself through that? I ended up scheduling a session on my calendar and telling myself I couldn't go to a special event until I got it all squared away. Now that I’ve finally gotten it straightened and settled it has turned into a super comfortable spot for writing, researching, and coaching.
Special Award For Most Surprising Thing: how much additional stuff we pitched after the move. A little bit of this phenomenon happens in all moving situations, of course. You think something like a small area rug or table will be just perfect in a room, only to discover it doesn't fit, or flat-out looks hideous. Still, I was surprised that boxes of things to donate kept reappearing as we unpacked. You may remember that we rented a small storage space when we decluttered and staged the previous house. We missed nothing in that storage unit - ever. Some of it was winter clothing or other seasonal items, but when we went to unload it about a quarter of the contents got taken straight to the Goodwill drop-off around the block. Even now I have a forlorn box in the garage waiting. It contains a pink metallic tabletop Christmas tree, a blanket I didn't even know we owned, lots of shoes, and a stuffed plush Darth Vader head (proving conclusively that yes, organizers end up with weird stuff too).
I’m thrilled that we made my self-imposed deadline of being totally unpacked before the holidays got into full swing. Was it easy to push through opening and organizing every box? I won’t lie, sometimes it was incredibly tough to stay motivated (even with the whole family pitching in). But the rewards are having wonderful peace of mind, comfort, and functionality in every room of our new home. A genuine happy ending.
What sorts of moving adventures have you experienced? Did you come to any realizations about how it could have been a smoother transition? Share your insights with us below.
Sara Skillen - Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Organizer Coach®, wife, mom, and serial list-maker. Learning to trust my intuition more every day. Shall we work together?