The 5 Stages of Moving

For me, moving is like going to the bathroom without having any toilet paper.

I use this example because it happened to me not once, but twice today. Like going to the bathroom, moving for our family is something that happens regularly, but I am never prepared for it. And about the actual toilet paper, the first time when I realized I was out, I should have replaced it right away. Now that I think about it, I didn't replace it after the second time either and we can assume based on my current level of brain activity, there will be a third and fourth time before the day is done.

Moving is not hard for me physically, because I am a woman of bionic strength due to Crossfit (jk, I don't even know what Crossfit is, but all the cool people do it) but it is definitely suuuper hard for me mentally.

My typical weekday routine consists of a "quiet" morning in the house, nap for Mack, playdate, feed the kids lunch, nap for Mack and Lou, go outside or run an errand (if I'm feeling brave), make dinner, clean house, kids to bed, lay uselessly on couch, go to bed and look at i-phone. All the gaps of my day are filled with throwing out diapers, finding mates to socks, and if I'm lucky, reading a paragraph or two of a book (right now I am finally reading Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies that a friend lent me, so good!). Sometimes I clean more than just the kitchen, but I almost always don't! Sometimes I do laundry, but I also almost always don't --until it catches up with me, aka someone is coming to visit us and I am ashamed so I do 12 loads in one day.

This is my little routine. It is simple, it is messy, and it is enough to keep me very busy.

My moving routine is just one big freakshow.

I have to do all the things of my actual life, but also pack everything our little family of four owns and leave a clean house behind us. I was thinking about it today, and although very different from grief, they are similar in coping via a five stage process. Today is Thursday. I started really moving exactly one week ago. This is my last day in our house. Tomorrow, I leave to go to Chicago for a wedding and am taking the babies. My hubby is staying behind to move all of our furniture. When we return from Chicago, we will return to the new house, and I am sure it will be remarkable in all of it's disaster-osity.

So that is a little background. But here are the five stages of moving drama that I've been experiencing the last week, other recent movers let me know if you have felt any of these yourselves!

1. Denial- I have felt very sad about this move because I am in love with our little town and the friends we made here. So it helped my psyche very much to pretend like we weren't moving. Everyone was asking me if we started packing yet and I would cheerfully say: "No, not yet!" I ignored their disbelieving and concerned expressions and changed the subject. Instead of packing, we spent a lot of time enjoying the awesome weather, celebrating Easter, and I wrote my submission for the Messy Beautiful Project. A very productive week I must say.

2. Motivation- So when the ONE WEEK countdown hit, I called my mama and had her come spend this past weekend with us. My sister and I lovingly call her "Work Horse" because she gets sh*t done. She is amazing in lots of ways and one of the things that has always impressed me most about her is that she has twice the amount of energy I do even though-- spoiler alert (sorry Mom!)-- she is twice my age. She also is an awesome cook, seamstress, gardener, Grandmother, and she does this really grown-up thing where she starts a load of laundry puts it away the same day. When Mama showed up, things got real, fast, and I filled an entire trailer full of boxes and furniture under her watchful gaze. It also helped that she played with the kids, who both think it's hilarious to unpack each box as I fill it and the fact that we didn't have duct tape on hand for a few days exponentialized (not a word, should be a word) the problem. Don't worry, Work Horse went and got some 5 minutes after she was here. Then she sat down and drank iced tea, LIKE A BOSS.

3. Excitement- I began to feel very excited about all my progress. I looked around my house and saw nothing on the walls, some cabinets were even empty. I had this moving thing down. Old pro over here. I let my mind wander and start thinking about how I would set up the new house, where the furniture was going to go, what we needed to buy ---debatable, because of the Spending Fast! More discussion to come on this potential loophole. Our current rental doesn't have a basement or a backyard. Mack sleeps in a large walk-in closet in a hallway. We are moving back into the house we bought after got married and have been renting out. It has a huge fenced-in-yard, a finished basement, and everyone has their own bedroom-- (please buy it from us! We are selling it!). After living in two different rentals, one without central A/C nor a dishwasher, it looks like a modern day palace. Since we are fixing it up to put it on the market before we move again this fall, Mike and I have had fun talking about what we're going to update and what repairs we need to make. The bad part of my manic episode was that I packed things we still needed for the next week. Last time we moved, Mike was annoyed that I packed all the throw pillows too soon. Don't worry honey, left those out but for some reason I packed ALL THE BATH TOWELS, a week early, eek! I felt the wrath of that one as someone was hollering at me post-shower. Shake and dry babe, shake and dry.

4. Dead Inside- The excitement and its adrenaline lasted for like 36 hours. Then I began to feel like I needed to retreat to a place of darkness and silence. Overwhelmed by the fact that I am preparing to move two places, first to our old house and then to wherever Mike's next assignment is (likely Omaha, so if you know anyone there, give me a shout!), we will be staging our house to sell --did I mention I have children? Small poopy ones whose favorite foods are avocados and sweet potatoes aka BIG MESSES ALL DAY LONG? So I feel a little tired and anxious. Thanks to my best friend of late, the Keurig, I am going through the motions. I currently maintain a 1:2 ratio of cups of coffee to packed boxes. But I still find myself walking aimlessly from room to room, holding a moldy apple I found inside an old purse in one hand and YET ANOTHER unmatched sock in the other in a total daze.

To make my point: Tuesday at church, I walked past a lady who stopped to tell me my fly was down,  I was so mentally zonked I just kindly nodded and didn't remember what she said until I was in the checkout line at the grocery store and yet another precious person pointed it out to me again. The other night I was cooking, packing a box marked "Clothespins and Blank-CD's," feeding the babes, wiping the floor, rushing around, and I picked up the Windex and BAM! Sprayed it right into the green beans. I wasn't even using Windex, but it was sitting right there next to the burner so I picked it up and sprayed the food and after I did, I woke up from my crazy multi-tasking stupor and thought, "What the crap did I just do?!" Has anyone else ever done this?? Please tell me I'm not the first.

5. Despair- In order to pack up our house, I have to literally NOT be myself in any way, shape or form. I can't just put things in random places, I can't leave any task until tomorrow, all the laundry must be done because I learned from past experiences moving dirty laundry is really annoying when you're unpacking. The baseboards need to be wiped (yes, that is a real thing), the fridge scrubbed down, and the Christmas and Birthday decorations put away- don't judge! Baby Jesus in the Nativity scene seemed like a good one to keep around with all the angry words that want to float out of my mouth these days. But really, it requires so much mental energy for me to sort and organize and label boxes that by the end, I am throwing things into random shopping bags and calling it good.

It is exhausting to operate out of your weaknesses all day long.

Here are a few visual aids for you to understand a little more about my process over here and then back to packing I go.
We have a hundred toys like this scattered throughout the house waiting for their missing pieces to emerge from under the couches. And don't be alarmed that we brush our teeth at the kitchen table. I'm telling you people, t's a free for all over here.

I spent a HALF AN HOUR debating whether or not I should throw these shoes out. 

We have reinstated the tv show that we lovingly call the "C-word" (Calliou), I hate it. But it has brought much joy and distraction to this little creature.
Take advantage of any offer for help! We have received meals and gift cards and lots of childcare, thank you merciful friends. Jenny brought us smoked pork loin (I heart Iowa) and yes, that is a Paleo baguette! 

One of the best ideas another mom gave me was when your kids get a lot of toys for birthdays/holidays, stash some for a rainy day. After a day of packing, these two opted out of the wine drinking that mommy did, and loved playing with their "Band in a Box!"

This meal is Windex free, but it was hard to boil water and cook macaroni in a skillet, I packed and sent ahead all of our pots and pans. Borrowed this one from a neighbor.  And yes, that is an Elmo trick-or-treat basket, I have yet to find a box to put it in so into the shopping bags it shall go.

If anyone has any helpful moving advice (besides hiring actual movers/packers) puh-lease do not hesitate to send it along!


  1. ally,
    i seriously love reading your blog! I don't have children obvi, but totally feel your plights (maybe too strong of a word) with laundry. I can't imagine doing it with little ones around...Lord, help me!
    keep these posts coming! miss you and seeing you jump on a trampoline before bed in your house in chapel hill :)

  2. Ummm... I think my house looks that messy without being in the state of moving. Shame of me :)
    And PS: my momma is totally a do-er too. I remember different points of moving, being paralyzed by not being able to figure out how to organize what goes in which boxes. Then my momma would arrive, take charge and make sh*t happen. Because that's what mommas do. So maybe someday we'll be able to do that for our own babies!

  3. Love this especially little Lou's sweet face!

  4. Oh, Ally, I wish I'd gotten to know you when you were in Pella! I love reading about your life and think we must be kindred spirits. Except you have a knack for both decorating and fashion, and I just do things like spray Windex in the green beans (not exactly that, but I totally relate to that kind of checked out brain...even when I am not moving!). I look forward to reading more (when Tulip Time is over and Pella has returned to normal!).


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