Daydreaming about moving into a beautiful, spacious new home is whimsical and fun. Actually packing up your whole house on the morning of your move, hours before the movers are supposed to arrive, is a bit of a different experience – especially if you and your partner aren’t on the same page.
Recently, I moved with my partner into a new space. At times it felt like he and I were operating on totally different planets and tensions were on the rise. Moving was a huge stress on our relationship, but from it we learned some invaluable lessons which I am so excited to share with you. I won’t be telling you the most infallible, tetris-style arrangement patterns for packing up your boxes, but here are my tips and lessons on how to make moving fun, organized, and to utilize this opportunity to build upon your relationship with your partner.
Define the Goal
“Without goals and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination”– Fitzhugh Dodson
What does success look like for you and your partner? The absolute biggest struggle that my partner and I had was that we were both working towards different goals. I wanted to have our whole apartment packed up as quickly as possible, practically just throwing things into boxes. My partner wanted to catalogue everything we owned, write up a spreadsheet, and then neatly and purposefully pack each box with only similar items. We were driving each other crazy.
Because my partner and I hadn’t taken the time to clearly understand each other’s vision for how our moving process should go, we injected completely unnecessary and easily avoidable tension into the situation. Half the time we spent packing we were just scowling at each other with confused expressions plastered across our faces. Remember, moving isn’t just packing and unpacking boxes. There are thousands of ways to pack and unpack a box. If you and your partner aren’t on the same page and working together following a mutually agreed upon system, chaos will ensnare and decimate the whole moving operation.
Talk with each other before either of you start packing. Decide how you will pack, when you will pack. Utilize each other’s strengths. I am a quick and organized packer, but I am terribly forgetful with labels and what went into what box. My partner lives and breathes by labels and documenting where everything is. Set a goal, assign roles, execute the plan. Remember to schedule times to check-in with each other throughout the process. It’s a lot. But it’s easier done with clarity and unity.
Build an Accountability Structure
“A goal is only as effective as your level of accountability to achieve it”– JoshuaAlvin
It’s one thing to set a goal, it’s another to hold each other accountable to achieving it. Take advantage of the fact that you are moving with another person. Discuss a timeline for the packing process and support each other in sticking to the timeline.
I did quite well with setting reminders on my phone. I’d set aside an hour in the evening, set an alarm to go off 5 minutes before the time I chose to start packing and I set another alarm for when my hour of packing has finished. This was simple and worked well for me. I was able to stay focused and on task the whole time. My partner held me accountable by acknowledging when I was in “packing mode”. He understood to stay out of my space and to not interrupt me. This lowered my opportunities for distractions and made my packing time smooth and efficient.
My partner operated differently. In order to support him and keep him accountable, he did best when given a few polite reminders. While packing, he was easily enthralled by the memories associated with his possessions. This sucked him into a swirling vortex of youthful memories which drained away at his packing time. Simple redirection and refocusing can be extremely effective.
Also, be sure to take a few breaks from packing every so often. It’s incredibly easy to get bogged down by the stress, exhaustion, and the onslaught of memories that can boil up while packing. These are your things. Take five minutes every hour to connect with your belongings, acknowledge the memories. Then keep on trudging along. Find what system of accountability works best for both you and your partner – it will be your lifeline throughout this process.
Outline Your New Layout Before You Move
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.”– Maya Angelou
For peace of mind, do this. The current issue that my partner and I are dealing with is:
“Where the heck does everything go?”
We held it together through our packing process. We managed to maintain a kind and polite composure while working with the movers (hiring good movers makes the process so much easier). Now is the real struggle. I want the living room packed with bright, warm colors – pillows everywhere. My partner wants the living room to be open and spacious with nothing but the bare essentials. Hours have already been spent debating which wall the couch should be placed against. We are exhausted.
Immediately after deciding where you’re going to move, get a copy of the floorplan with the dimensions. Measure your furniture and cut out little paper pieces that represents your furniture to play with and move around the floor-plan. This will allow you to try out different room layouts for your furniture without having to lift and move your heavy furniture thirty times. Or, if you’re a more visual/computer savvy individual, a free room styling website that I came across which has proven to be a huge help is aptly called roomstyler. It’s a great beginners introduction to room design that allows you to move virtual furniture, similarly sized to your own, around a virtual layout of your new home to get a better idea of what a good setup could be for each room in your house.
Decorating and deciding where everything should go in your new space can be daunting. This is just another opportunity to work together with your partner to discuss and decide (maybe do some compromising) what function each room should serve. This is your new home. Come into it with a game plan already in mind and besides, if you know where you want most things to go, it makes the labeling so much easier on you and the unloading so much easier on the movers. The more clarity you can provide for yourselves on moving day and the few days following, the quicker you’ll be able to settle in and feel like you truly are home.
Make it Fun
“The more you focus on fun, the more fun you have”A. D. Posey
One of the best ways to combat stress is to make the activity that is causing you stress into a fun one. You are with your partner transitioning into a new home, this is supposed to be fun! When my partner and I first started packing up our boxes, he had such a serious outlook. I could feel the tension radiating off him. I put the box I had been carrying down and turned on our favorite song to dance to. I strolled over to him, gave him a big hug, and we just stood there swaying together. Moving is a challenge, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make moments where you just enjoy being together.
Turn on your favorite tunes. Divide up the work and then set out to conquer the sea of boxes before you. Dance, laugh, spend a little time doing a fashion show to help you decide what articles of clothing you should get rid of. Breathe together. Be together. You are transitioning into your new home. There are emotions that come along with this. Relish in them together. The memories we remember are more often the warm, happy ones. Make moving as warm and as happy a moment as you can. Moving has a way of dragging our minds into the future, spiking our anxiety. Reset yourself back into the here and now with this person who’s captured your heart.
Communicate With Heart
“Communication to a relationship is like oxygen to life”Tony Gaskins
Act with love, move with love. It is far too easy to let your feelings of stress and worry override and dictate the way that you talk with your partner. To communicate with spite and rage only feeds the fire. Recognize that you are both stressed. Neither of you are functioning as your best self and that’s okay, it’s to be expected. Even so, remember to communicate with heart, compassion.
My partner and I gave each other the silent treatment throughout the whole course of our moving journey. There were nights when I had to get away from the tumultuous and unending waves of boxes that were drowning the house because I felt like my head was going to explode. What meant everything to me was that my partner made sure to give me the space that I needed, but also encouraged me to process my emotions with him every night before going to bed. Seek to understand each other’s struggles. Only then can you work together to build upon your relationship throughout this experience. Speak kindly. Remember your love.
Be excited! You’re moving into a new space and you are continuing to build your relationship with the person you love. Through all of the struggles that may present themselves over the course of this process, just remember that you will get through it. There are many opportunities for conflict. Lean into the conflict. Be respectful to each other. A new home is a clean slate. Fill it with your hopes and your dreams. Find the joy in the small moments. A home is built with the materials you both bring. Only together will it be solid and complete.