A few days ago I was wandering around my home as strange hands deftly packed up our all our belongings and with them all the accompanying memories, into brown cardboard boxes.
Onlookers might have said I looked bereft, misplaced, as if I was sort of house-mourning, and indeed it felt as if the house was dying in front of my very eyes. I’d retreat to the garden, hot as anything and realise that even that too was dying in the heatwave.
‘How to cope with the stress of moving’ were words which I kept suppressed as I just ‘got on with things’ and only afterwards realised that after many moves, I have come to learn strategies which help keep me focused on the ‘What Next’ in a positive way.
The sold sign sitting squarely on the front lawn felt like a betrayal. Some inner voice whispered, “Judas” as if it was I who had betrayed these four walls which have safely shepherded our happy moments and memories through six years.
I was turning my back on a home that’s safely housed our treasured possessions but most of all which has contained and cherished our days, hours and minutes of love, laughter, hissy fits, triumps and tragedies – the fabric of family life.
Sold to the highest bidder
As the tramping feet of inquisitive strangers poking around our loved and lived in rooms, and the weekend ‘home-opens’ ended, much quicker than expected, the day of Settlement approached way too fast for emotional comfort.
Suddenly it was all too real.
Somehow the idea that sale meant final, and moving out would become a fait accompli failed to feature in our immediate reality. The truth was that from the time of accepting the offer and then during the last few weeks before settlement we were merely custodians of the house and garden, keeping it shipshape, for the next family to live in.
For a while I allowed nostalgia to creep up on me, and it took me over like a longing.
How many times, have I wandered barefoot on the bamboo flooring and looked contentedly onto the little Bali-style garden we’ve created over six years. Will I miss this view? Has it seeped into the very fabric of who I am, or cast an indelible spell which will forever spoil me for new adventures?
Yes, I am being sentimental. Yes, we shouldn’t wallow in nostalgia. Yes, we should be grateful for the happy years we have had in this house and wave it goodbye with a fond, but not clingy, Farewell.
I could tell you how I’ve watched the Frangipani trees in our backyard bloom and blossom through six seasons, and how much I’ve enjoyed swimming in the pool when their fragrant waxy flowers fall like tropical snowflakes into the water around me. I can tell you how frustrated I was one season in my war with snails which munched on our petunias, or how I despaired when the black beetles once ate great big patches of our green green lawn.
I’d like to again conjure up the happy family Christmas when we finally felt like true blue Aussies and enjoyed a cold lunch rather than traditional roast Turkey (with all the trimmings) or the Australia day when after we had become citizens we finally felt at home and proudly donned t-shirts emblazoned with the Australian flag and drank beers and had a sausage sizzle cooked on the barbie. I’d like to have invited you to our regular family Sunday lunches around the big dining room table from Africa, or the brunches around the breakfast bar when we’d all sit and natter like green parrots – which visited our garden and ate the olives.
Our little house has seen my Mum visit Australia for the first (and probably last) time
It’s witnessed landmark birthdays and important anniversaries. It’s seen my Hubby and I grow ever closer between annniversary 21 and 27.
Our house saw our son morph from a boy child into a fine young man who gained a Diploma and flew the nest before buying his own nest, leaving only a few unwashed t-shirts in his wake.
It’s nurtured our beautiful daughter and launched her from University into a rewarding life of her own
I remember how our house took on our children’s photos of new smiles, of diplomas and degrees, accepted new girlfriends and boyfriends and families – and welcomed them all like long lost friends.
I now wonder what memories our children will take away from this bright place with it’s floor length windows and the smiling Buddha (who still lives, with his sanquine expresssion, along the side fence in between two potted palms).
As I write, I feel a little unhinged at having lost my place of belonging. A house is more than a home because it fills a deep primal instinct; it’s our cave, the place where we feel safe and protected, and dare I say … in control?
Yes, I feel as if I’ve lost control. It’s the little things that irk me.
Where is my toothbrush? Where is that particular book on blogging I want now (suddenly) to refer to? How come I have an urge to wear that old pink dress from England right now, when it’s been sitting in my cupboard for the last year unworn and is now tucked up safely in storage for a while?
Small insignificant things rise to the fore and become impossibly important.
For now though I must focus on our new adventure and find a new house to mould into a home just as the new owners will be doing at Number 5. I hope that they will love the new chapter they are writing in their family history and be as happy and content as we’ve been. I hope they will create many beautiful memories and heartfelt moments which if they have to leave one day might be packaged up and taken with them just as I am doing now.
9 Tips to help you cope with the stress of moving
- In the lead up to the move be as organised as you can. Write lists, start a spreadsheet, or keep a To Do list on your computer. The more organised you can be, the less you’ll have to worry about. I’ll be writing a post about this shortly and will link to it here.
- Give yourself time to mourn the loss of your home while you’re still living there, and also when you’ve left. Don’t expect that you’ll just leap into a new house and turn it into a home overnight, but try not to compare the two. You are on a new journey now. A different journey. You may lose some things which are important to you, but you will gain others. Focus on those.
- Be grateful and give silent thanks for the many happy memories, and the sad ones.
- Talk to your husband, lean on him – or speak to someone you know and trust about the feelings you have about moving. While men probably don’t have the same emotional attachment as women have to their homes they can be of great support and will put your deepest fears about moving to rest.
- Make the time to say goodbye to places and people before you leave. Go on your favourite walk and remember the good times you spent in the neighbourhood.
- Try to be as organised as possible prior to the move so that the emotional fallout of leaving doesn’t get muddled up with the stress of actually moving out. (So I might just have left some of Dave’s shirts in the cupboard as well as a suitcase in the garage that had to be retrieved from the new owners with tail between my legs because I got into such a dither on D-Day).
- Take care of yourself, and as far as possible keep to your daily routine until the frenetic activity of moving takes over. It’s important to get enough sleep and to eat well, when really you might fall into skipping meals and lying awake worrying at night.
- If you are downsizing, believe me … the pain of selling, or giving things away doesn’t last. In fact you’ll wonder when you reach your new abode why you ever thought certain things were so necessary and you’ll rue the day you decided to pack them up and bring them with you.
- Make sure you pack a case filled with essentials which will tide you over while your possessions are in storage or in transit. Think of it as your overnight case – but pack it with all the personal things you need to survive a couple of days or weeks.
Would love to know if you have anything to add – have you moved? How many times? How did you cope with the stress? What was the worst and the best thing about moving home?