Ten women who’ve been there share ideas to keep your move as smooth and stress-free as possible
Our move this past summer should have been relatively simple. We were moving from a three-bedroom apartment to another (ground floor) three-bedroom just a few blocks away. We got a decent quote from the moving company and went ahead. But then things went awry.
The company only sent four workers, one who spent a lot of time just sitting in the truck, and the move took all day. By four p.m., they hadn’t even started unloading anything, and I was standing outside the new apartment with my children anxiously looking for the moving truck. I actually called the owner of the company to ask if I needed to book a hotel for the night, because I was still planning on putting my kids to bed at seven p.m. He got the hint and put pressure on the workers, but it was so frustrating.
A friend of mine who moved a few weeks later had a totally different experience. The moving company sent seven or eight workers, and she was in her new place unpacking by 12 noon. She had a few hours to get some unpacking done before her children came home. Moral of the story: Get a moving company who will send enough workers and get you unpacking as soon as possible. It’s worth everything!
In my office, everything is really organized. I have spreadsheets for the office supplies, the accounts, and everything else. I decided to organize my move the same way. I numbered all the boxes and made a spreadsheet listing every box and its contents. Yes, it took extra time when packing (though not that much), but it saved us tons of time afterward.
My husband needed his Megillah to show someone something? No problem; I checked my spreadsheet and there it was, in box number 17. My daughter needed her ballet shoes? Mom to the rescue. They were in box 23.
Do a Shabbos test run! Plug in your blech, your Shabbos urn, set the a/c or heat, and leave the living room lights on the way you would for Shabbos. If there’s an electrical issue, you want to figure that out on a Thursday when you can do something about it, rather than on Shabbos itself.
Moving is a major change for kids, who thrive on structure and routine. My advice? Adjust your expectations in advance and expect regressions. Already toilet trained a kid? Anticipate accidents. Weaned a baby off a pacifier? Be prepared to bring it back. For many kids, they’re leaving the only home they’ve ever known, and some misbehavior or regression is par for the course.
On the other hand, a new house is a perfect opportunity for new routines. This is the time to integrate the rules you always wanted, like, no eating on the couch or no climbing on the beds. Just do it with compassion.
When we moved, both my husband and I had bronchitis. A close friend came by to drop off lunch, took one look at me, and said, “Okay, I’m getting you a practical gift.”
She gifted me a few hours of time with a professional organizer. My movers finished unloading the boxes around five p.m. and by eight-thirty p.m., I had an unpacked, organized, clean, fully functional kitchen. And she got the job done a lot better than I would have, that’s for sure!
Waking up the morning after the move and being able to make myself a coffee and give the kids cereal felt like a luxury, but, looking back, I think it was the most impactful form of help I could have received.
Unpacking, organizing, and setting up a kitchen takes time and is a lot of work. Having it done professionally, and most importantly, immediately, made a world of difference. If you can splurge on one thing when moving, a few hours with a professional organizer is the way to go.
Moving is stressful. There’s no way around it. We live in Yerushalayim, and we’ve had to move many, many times, not only to different apartments but also to different neighborhoods. It isn’t easy — not on me, not on my husband, and not on the kids.
I try to keep everyone’s spirits up by making it into an adventure. I ask the kids for their input on where to put things, and challenge them to see if they can find the closest park or makolet. I do my best to keep the atmosphere in the house — both the old one and the new one — positive.
I found using a color code system super helpful for unpacking. We put a blue piece of construction paper on every box that belonged in the boys’ room, pink for the girls’, yellow for our room, and gray for the kitchen.
Before the movers arrived at our new home, I hung a piece of construction paper in each room signaling which boxes go where. The movers put every box where it belonged, and it saved us time and energy schlepping boxes to the right rooms.
The first three days after moving are incredibly overwhelming. You work and work, unpack and unpack… and you still feel like you’re living in a zoo. Someone gave me a great tip that really helped us be functional until we got enough unpacking done.
We packed two extra-large suitcases and in the first one, we put everyone’s linens. The second suitcase had what every member of the family absolutely needed for the first three days, including clothes, toiletries, medication, security blankets, and school bags. This gave me three days of breathing room with unpacking; I knew we would have everything we needed. Don’t forget some plastic plates and cutlery!
Don’t pack your kesubah! You need to know where it is to go to sleep. I innocently packed our kesubah with all of our seforim, since that’s where we keep it. As we were winding down that first night, my husband asked me where it was. Well, after unpacking box after box, it was still nowhere to be found. My husband, worried that it had been lost or mistakenly thrown out, was deciding if he should start calling local rabbanim to write us a new one or look for a place to stay that night, when I unpacked the last box of books, and there it was. Trust me; no one wants to stay up looking for the kesubah. Keep it in your car or another safe place so that you know exactly where it is.
After you move, it really takes time to feel settled. Even if you’re super organized and efficient with your unpacking, it takes at least a few weeks, if not months, to figure out systems and routines.
Last winter we moved into a beautiful new place with more space, but I felt unhappy and off-kilter. I kept asking myself if I had buyer’s remorse and had to remind myself why we had moved. Secretly, I wished we would move back to our old, familiar, albeit much smaller apartment.
My husband was baffled. He knew how badly I had wanted the new place. But I couldn’t figure out the heating in the house and just felt so unsettled. I thought maybe we had made a mistake.
Then a friend reassured me that it really takes a while to get to know your home and feel settled. I decided to calm down and just give myself some time. Within a few months, I was totally in love with our new house. I wouldn’t go back to my old place for anything!
In my family, we like to play a game called Who Can Guess How Many Times Chani and Aryeh Have Moved? Spoiler alert: more times than you’d think or we could ever have imagined. We lived in at least four basement apartments in Lakewood just during shanah rishonah! Then we did a short stint in Brooklyn, then moved to Monsey, and then we went back to Lakewood. You get the picture.
By the fifth move, my morale was at rock-bottom. I burst into tears, sobbing about how unfair it was that we always had to move. My husband heard me out, then eloquently reminded me that this is what it means to live in galus. Mashiach isn’t here yet, and we aren’t settled. The constant moves and all the accompanying hardship are a symptom of galus, he explained.
When I heard that, my view on moving totally shifted. We’ve moved since then, but it’s become emotionally easier. I don’t take it personally anymore; I know that it’s part of our Nation’s journey. This is supposed to be happening.
I can’t say I look forward to moving, but keeping this in mind has helped me connect to the idea of being in galus and has made moving easier to deal with.
And here are some tips for those moving not just to another neighborhood but to a different country:
Do your research when choosing a lift company. And get insurance! Our lift was a disaster. It took forever, they lost a bunch of our stuff, and we had no way to prove it. We later learned some companies are much better than others. Choose wisely!
When moving internationally, especially if you’re moving from Israel to America, you may be tempted to just throw out as much as you can, assuming buying new things will be cheaper than shipping. But new isn’t always better.
If you’re used to certain kitchen knives or tools, you’d be surprised how much you miss them. Think twice before you throw things out. You don’t want to find yourself missing what you already have.
One of the most important things to have and keep track of when moving internationally is a folder of all your important documents. Think immunization records, hospital records, doctors’ records, birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc. Converting everything is that much easier when you know where your original documents are. And of course, make copies of everything and save them on your Google drive just in case.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 806)
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