Moving into a new house can be really exciting. A new home is a fresh start; you can redecorate in a new style, invest in a few creative accessories and create a space for you and your family that is cozy, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.
Who am I kidding? Moving house is the biggest pain in the arse imaginable, and it’s no wonder it’s something like the third most stressful thing on the Top 10 Most Stressful Things to Experience in Your Life (behind bereavement and losing your job, if I remember correctly).
We moved house this weekend gone, and I am living in a nightmare of shoddily packed boxes, lost items, broken ornaments, cries of “Mummy, I can’t find….!” and catty comments between myself and my husband.
So, while I’m no fairy Godmother and am absolutely unable to magic away the stresses of moving for anyone (believe me, if there was a magic potion for that I’d have overdosed on it around about 5.30am Monday morning), the inspiration for this article lies in my selfless and magnanimous desire to save others from making some rookie moving mistakes in the future.
Welcome to…my Seven Deadly Sins of Moving.
1. Underestimating how many drawers and cupboards you have
If I had to choose the deadliest, this would be it! It is ALWAYS going to take you longer than you expect. There will always be drawers you forget about. What about the shelves at the top of the wardrobe? The space underneath the shelves in the cupboard underneath the stairs?
For me, the kitchen drawers were nearly my undoing. You spend ages packing everything then you forget this…
The classic No Order, I’ll Shove It In Here For Now, drawer – times two!
TIP: However long you think it will take to pack, times this by three.
2. Letting your current partner pack up your drawers of sentimental items
I’m assuming everyone must have cardboard boxes in their attics (if they’re sensible) and sheds (if they’re not – won’t somebody think about the damp?!) of items from their teenage years, university days and roaring twenties that hold sentimental value. I’m talking old Valentine’s Day cards, love letters, even pictures of exes, and photos of holiday flings and wild nights out you don’t want your current partner to see.
And trust me, unless you want to be coordinating your move in cold, sinister silence, fending of dagger-like looks (though receiving a non-fatal dagger through the heart will get you out of having an active role in moving house, so may not be quite the disaster you initially think it could be), sort your own personal stuff.
TIP: However blasé you are about your past, don’t underestimate your partner’s reaction to it.
3. Forgetting to label the boxes
Labelling seems like an obvious strategy at the start of the move, but when you end up with several people helping, some idiots will forget – and somewhere amongst the kind friends and family who’ve offered to help, there will be at least one idiot, if not more. Non-labelled boxes have been known to push people over the edge, to cause decade-long family feuds, divorce and even, in extreme cases, murder.
TIP: For the emotional and physical safety of your loved ones, lead a short seminar and training programme on the importance of box-labelling and how to most effectively complete this task. They may appear ungrateful and mock you, but it’s a small price to pay to know the day won’t end with your hands around their throat.
4. Over-packing a large box
Large cardboard boxes may seem like a good idea at the time, but they are the work of the Devil himself. It’s so tempting to think, I’ll just put one more item in because there’s so much room and then WHAM! You can’t lift the thing and you have to find another box and repack half of what you’ve already packed into the second box.
Then they just take up room with their size and it’s all empty space!
TIP: Bigger is not always better.
5. Cleaning your oven yourself
Why put yourself through this? Even if you’re not moving, did you know you can pay someone to do the most disgusting, dirty job ever? I had our oven cleaned professionally for the princely sum of £40 as we moved from a rented property and I’ll be damned if I’m going to give the bloodsucking letting agency a chance to keep hold of my deposit!
But I know now I’ll never do my own oven ever again!
TIP: If you’re struggling to justify in your mind paying out for someone to do this household chore, tell yourself your time is worth far more than money, so you’re not paying someone to do a job you should do yourself, you’re paying someone to gain back half a day of your life you don’t want to waste on your knees elbow-deep in grease and charcoaled food from 8 months ago.
6. Being afraid to throw things out
When moving, there are thousands of items you’ll come across that will spark an inner monologue about the pros and cons of keeping them. Just throw them out. My general rule of thumb is, if there’s even the slightest voice telling you to chuck it, listen to it. If that voice is there, you won’t grieve the loss of the item post-move.
TIP: Be ruthless. The more you chuck in your old home, the less you have to unpack in your new one.
7. Forgetting to leave unpacked the bare essentials for a cuppa!
Cups of tea are what will get you through the move; they are the rubber ring lifeline in storm, the oasis in the desert. The last box to be packed should contain the following:
• Enough mugs for all involved in the move;
• Ample teabags
• A carton of milk
• A bag of sugar
• A teaspoon
• A box (or tin) of biscuits
TIP: Don’t underestimate the power of a break and a calm 5 minutes to reflect on the great work you’ve done and to recharge your batteries. Regular breaks can make you more productive in the long run.