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Family Matters Blog: Blogger Tackles Move-in Day

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2010 – The walls are bare, my clothes are scattered across the floor and my garage is packed from floor to ceiling with boxes, but I've decided to overlook all of that. I'm just glad to be home.

Last week, I moved from Virginia to Maryland, a journey I've been documenting in blogs in hopes of passing on some helpful tips and picking up a few along the way from our moving-savvy military families. I wrote about tackling the tasks of finding a new home in "Blogger Heads Out on House Hunt,” prepping my family for a move in "Blogger Gears Up for Move" and transitioning my two older children to a new school in "Tips Ease Transition to New School."

But no matter how tricky all of that seemed at the time, it pales in comparison with my actual move-in day.

I'll never forget that moment when the movers first left after a day of unloading. I stood there dwarfed by towering pillars of boxes, feeling like a child lost in a cardboard forest. And I flinched as I heard the door shut, signaling the departure of my husband on yet another business trip.


I was alone, overwhelmed and strongly considering checking myself and my three children into a hotel somewhere, preferably with cable, high-speed Internet and a talented masseuse.

But then I realized, like the tried-and-true adage of one day at a time, I had to take this challenge one box at a time. I sliced that first box open and began rifling through packing paper. Then I moved onto another and then another until I finished one room.  And then I moved onto the next room and the next. You get the idea.

Of course, I'm far from done. But I'm going to overlook the multiple piles of stuff in the corners of almost every room for the moment and focus on how far I've come in a few short months.  And since I'm taking a moment to reflect, here are a few moving-in tips I've learned along the way:

-- Don't take it all with you. Before the movers come to pack your former house, weed through your stuff and figure out what you can toss or give away. Unless you want to be featured on the show "Hoarders," I'm sure there's some stuff you can live without. It's a big timesaver on the other end.


-- Plan ahead. Find out what your utilities are in your new neighborhood ahead of time and have the contact information on hand so you can set them up as soon as possible. We made the mistake of waiting till the last minute to call and set up our Internet and then had to tough out a week without it -- not an easy task for two technology addicts.

-- Meet the neighbors. They're a great source of information on everything from finding the nearest park to trash pickup days. Plus, you'll feel a sense of community once you meet the people with whom you'll be sharing a street. Those bonds sure can come in handy if another "snowmageddon" strikes.

-- Don't let your eyes get bigger than your wallet. The minute I moved in, I decided I wanted new floors, a new kitchen, new paint, and so on. But Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will my dream home. Try to schedule a project a month, or as your budget allows. You don't want to rack up a huge debt right after you move in. Trust me, unexpected expenses will arise, and you'll need some extra cash on hand.

-- Above all, don't try to do everything in one day. I was so intent on getting everything done as fast as possible that I failed to notice how exhausted I truly was, especially after averaging three hours of sleep a night for a week. That stack of boxes will be there tomorrow and even the next day. Make sure you give yourself a break and get some rest. It's not worth sacrificing your health.

Now I'm on to my next challenge: home renovations. But first, I'm due for a long nap.

As a footnote to this experience, I wanted to express my deepest admiration for our military families who tackle these moves much more often than most of us ever will. And they do so with the added stressors of multiple deployments and absent spouses. My spouse was gone for a week, not a year, and I can only imagine how tough that must be. As always, thank you for your sacrifices on behalf of our nation.

To comment on this blog, please visit the Family Matters blog.

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