Summer time is the busiest time of year for moving. While this is the slowest and most boring for school aged children, this is the busiest time for adults. Our family recently planned a cross country move with a van line due to my husband taking a new job. What was supposed to be a one year timeline turned into a one month sprint. In less than three weeks, we packed our entire house, shipped our cars, found a house, registered our kids for school and somehow managed to keep our sanity while moving cross country.
Moving is a hectic and stressful process to say the very least. The overwhelming rigamarole of looking through your home and belongings, contemplating packing, moving, sell or not sell, donate or keep. So much emotional attachment we possess with material belongings, things, and even a home. I literally felt myself at times melting into a pool of stress and defeat as I attempted to swallow the entire elephant of executing a cross country move.
Waves of excitement and sadness. A grief I did not realize I was feeling. Choking, smothering, suffocating under the immense pressure. Finding a home. Finding schools. The right schools. The right neighborhood. My kids. Their friends. Relocating our cars, our things, our dogs. So. Many. Details.
I sat quietly and composed myself, a bystander to my own situation, feeling myself detach and move like a well orchestrated concerto to arrange and organize the most amazing adventure of our lives.
Room by room I went with my kids in tow. Old enough now to supply their own feedback and valuable opinion regarding the keep, sell, donate and toss ideals of the massive undertaking for our home. While I didn’t offer them carte blanche, we did act as a team to go through each and every toy, LEGO, dart, dart gun, Barbie, crayon, marker, sock, shoe, and thumbtack. Exfoliating all the items that would no longer bring them joy, and was a loveless task for me to continue to allow them to hoard.
The cleanse was so cathartic. Years of acquired toys, broken toys, clothes that no longer fit, toys that had seem to be lost forever in the bowels of their rooms suddenly reappeared with the deep clean. After we tackled the beast that is the kids’ rooms, I moved into the rest of the rooms of the house. Bathrooms, master bedroom, linen closets, the kitchen, bookshelves, coat closets, every nook and cranny was touched, pined over, debated, sorted, and or sent out to pasture in a yard sale. Even though I knew we would have a moving company pack our items, I just could not sit around to wait for someone else to do the work for me, that is not how I am wired.
Cleaning wasn’t enough, time was closing in on me like a black hole. Gravity was pulling, the weight was crushing my chest under the enormous pressure, sweat seemed to always bead off my body. Anxiety attacks. I was in a constant state of “fight” and my anxiety had a gripping hold. My throat would tighten and I felt like a balloon with the air being pressed out, gasping, and moments of uncontrollable silent sobbing. The reality of leaving my home, the home I had raised my children in since infancy, the home where I grew up as an adult was breaking my heart to leave. The home that had heard thousands of arguments, the home that felt scorching passion of two people, the home that had babies and puppies, the home that potty trained a toddler, twins. The home that love truly built. The home that felt the paws of our animals, owned, borrowed, and babysat. I felt like I was abandoning a lifetime lived in this home.
All of these feelings gushed through me as I packed the very first box. I spun like a pinwheel in the wind, dizzy as I tried to determine which room, which cabinet, which place I would start first. Starting the upheaval couldn’t happen just anywhere, we still had to live and we couldn’t be complete minimalists. Centering my thoughts and my heart, I knew the first items to pack as if God himself ordained the event. My Grandmother’s Spode. The one thing that would always feel like home no matter where we were, the one day of the year that always meant family, and the generations of traditions, laughs, love, memories and joy – Christmas. Grandma Tina’s Spode was carefully placed into a towel lined box as I individually wrapped each plate, saucer, cup, bowl, serving dish, platter and pitcher; sobbing silently into the cardboard container holding memories spanning four decades, four generations, a card with her handwriting; I grieved her loss all over again, replaying her voice, hearing her infectious eruption of laughter, memories of Christmases with The Chad and the kids flashed before me. Suddenly, everything became so real, so final, so exciting and it was scaring the shit out of me.
But I didn’t have time for sentiments, heartache, or belly-aching about the move, I pulled myself together with my normal, whole lot of “shit I have to get done” attitude. The Chad agreed to the offer for the job then it was a hurry up and wait game, then traveling to shore up details, then more traveling, and even more traveling with us in tow as we shopped for a home in a weekend, placed a deposit and confirmed the details of where we were to live. On the plane we could only have some buyers remorse if we moved too quickly on the home we found. Granted, it is only to rent, yet we found ourselves questioning EVERY decision.
Back home everything was a mad dash to complete and yet everyone else was at a complete stand-still. Movers had come to bid our home and we finalized the pack and load dates. I spent hours scrolling through pages on the web to find companies that could handle our time frame and the task. Three large moving companies were contacted: Bekins, Mayflower and Atlas, of which two confirmed, bid and showed while Mayflower couldn’t even bother to call back, confirm, or even play ball. PODS was a consideration, (something I highly recommend if you are NOT moving in less than a month) so that my inner control freak and OCD would feel a bit more at ease with playing adult Tetris carefully loading every item ourselves. Type-A personalities do not fair well knowing others are in control of your process and you feel as if the entire event is spiraling out of the universe. Price was also somewhat of a factor, as we did not want to be gouged, yet The Chad’s company was paying for the expense, so we wanted to be mindful of the overall cost and time constraints. Now came the little details that are never considered in the moving process, and this is where my OCD really shined.
Timelines and logistics are truly an art if you know how to juggle. Our timeline was scheduled, arranged, planned and operated based on the kids first day of school in Orlando, August 14th. Everything had to be timed just right in order to keep life somewhat normal for them and not be too upsetting. So I mentioned the little details:
- Pack for 14 days, but 30 would be ideal.
By pack, I mean in suitcases. If you are doing an interstate, cross country, or continental move, I would suggest 30 days of clothing. Seems excessive, but after my experience, I would highly recommend the extra attire, even if you have access to a washer and dryer.
- Purchase air mattresses.
Watch for lightning deals on Amazon or sales at your local store for air mattresses. You can guarantee you will be sleeping on them until your items arrive, and in our case, we slept on air mattresses for two weeks from the time they loaded until the day the moving company delivered. Suck it up buttercup, the pain is temporary. Ait mattresses can also fold into their bags and we found you can fit two of them, sheets and a towel into a large suitcase if you fly to your new destination.
- Pack bedding for air mattresses.
Light sheets are easy to pack. Comforters are not. Pillows are easy to pack as well. Kids can use these as their one personal item for carry-on if you are flying to your new destination. Remember that the airlines will charge each person for checked bags, the first is $25 per person, but this can add up.
- Consider your plants and pets
Plants and pets will not survive in the summer heat. Plants will need to be left behind unless you are driving, but even then, consider if the space is the precious for your plants. Pets cannot be always be crated and flown in the heat, however, they can be a carry-on item if they are small enough. Our pug could not be crated and flown in the cargo hold, so we bought inexpensive canvas kennels that would be considered small enough for carry-on luggage but large enough to fit the pug and the Lhasa-Poo. Pack enough dog food for a few days until you are settled, or look at a service like Chewy.com where you can purchase food online and have it shipped. We love the subscribe and save with Chewy for our pets, we save 15% and the timing worked great for when we arrived.
Our vehicles were scheduled to be shipped. Driving across country with three kids, two dogs for 2200 miles and the first day of work was the same day as the first day of school wasn’t feasible. So we booked flights and arranged for a vehicle transport (a large open carrier semi) to take our vehicles from Phoenix to Orlando. With that, we needed to schedule rental cars while in Phoenix and then when we landed in Orlando until our cars were delivered. The drive time with the transport was five days so they picked up our cars on the 4th of August and delivered them on the 9th, the morning after we arrived in Orlando. We had a rental car for four days in Phoenix and less than a day when we arrived in Orlando. Talk about timing. When booking your flights, also tell the airlines if you will be traveling with pets ahead of time. Even if you book online, call the airline with your confirmation/reservation number to advise them and receive pre-authorization, the airlines can delay you if you just show up with your animals, regardless if you check them into cargo or check them as carry-on items.
- Medical Paperwork
Oh the paperwork! Animals need health certificates for flight and when you arrive to your new home for your new vet and city. You want proof they are up to date on vaccines. WHich segues into your children and their health as well. We needed physicals for all three kids JUST TO START SCHOOL, not even for them to play sports, but just a wellness physical, go figure. Make sure you have their medical records to transfer to new physicians (pediatricians, family practice, dentists) and their shot records. Florida has a special form and you have to register your kids and their vaccinations into the Florida database (insert conspiracy theory here) before they start school, its a racket and a pain in the ass.
- Cash is King
While most banks are nationwide, if you bank with a local credit union or bank, they may not have a branch in your new city/town. Make sure to take out plenty of cash to last you until you can transfer banks and arrange for a new bank account. I am not saying clear out your accounts, but cash sure is handy until you learn your way around and avoid costly ATM fees. Be sure to notify and arrange all and any automatic payments with your banking institutions as well. Moving is expensive, but you don’t have to add additional costs into the move if not necessary.
These are some of the larger, small details that will affect your move that they don’t tell you about.
All in all, our move went extremely smooth until arrival. The first truck, yes, we had several actually, arrived nine days after we did on August 18th. That whole charade and ordeal is another story to tell at another time. We received about 65-80% of our items in that load. One month later we received our remaining items, including mine and The Chad’s clothes. Hence, why I say pack for at least 30 days, I went 45 days with the same ten days of clothes they told me to pack. Oh, and our washer went out, so we had to go to the laundromat for a week until our new washer arrived. Like I said, a whole other story.
Here we are, two months later, Hurricane Irma survivors (yet another tale to tell), Disney annual pass-holders and official Florida residents. We’ve made trips to the beach. Driven around trying to get lost while exploring our new town. Had meals at some of the local hole in the wall places. And, we finally unpacked our last box a few weeks ago (it was a large mirror, so it doesn’t count). Cheers to our newest Fish family adventure from Arizona to Florida, we are excited to share some new stories and create new memories for our legacy.