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Smooth move: Eight ways to reduce stress when preparing to settle into a new home

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau Reports, about 12 percent of Americans change their residence every year. If you’re a lucky adult heading up one of these millions of moves for your family, there’s a lot for you to manage in the immediate future. Moving was a hassle before kids came along — add your munchkins to the mix and the experience shifts from “hassle” to “a root canal would be better than this.”

The planning and prep for moving takes time. The actual move requires time. Settling into a new home and community takes time.

Do you see a pattern here? Moving is very possibly one of the most time consuming things we do. It can also be incredibly stressful and wrought with emotion.

What can you do to smooth your move and keep the stress to a minimum? Here are a few ideas:

1 Make your master checklist as early in the process as possible. Don’t even try to keep everything in your head. A moving file or notebook is a simple, yet helpful tool for keeping your thoughts straight and tracking what you’ve done and what you have left to do.

Your master checklist can include the major tasks you must complete along with the steps it takes to get them done. For example, if you need to sell your house, your action items might include cleaning, listing with a real estate agent, and planning one or two day trips to allow for open houses.

2 Use the move as a time to de-clutter. There is nothing quite as stress relieving as getting rid of a bunch of stuff you don’t use anymore.

Moving is the perfect time to do this. Rather than pack and move all the baby furniture you no longer use and board books that have seen better days, pass them on to someone who needs them. Donate, have a yard sale, or post it online. Just don’t bring it with you when you move. Let your new place feel lighter.

3 Give yourself plenty of time in your moving plan. Plan on the actual moving of your belongings taking longer than you think. If the moving company says it will have your belongings delivered in a week, plan on two. If you are scheduled to pick up a truck to start loading at 9 am on moving day, plan on 10 or 11 am. If you end up with an on-time move, great; if not, you will have planned for the extra time.

4 Get the kids involved. Think of jobs you can give the children. Can they write on the box labels? Could they sell lemonade or coffee at your yard sale? Would they help you sort clothes that no longer fit and bring them to donate somewhere that really needs them? Goodwill, churches, foster care organizations, and even hospitals with long-term care children’s units will take donated toys and books. Or, could the kids help to plan a going away party?

5 Does your move include the added bonus of a one-way road trip? With the magic of Google you can find the closest Chik-fil-A and McDonald’s locations, a large number of which have indoor playgrounds. You don’t have to eat there, but you can get a cup of coffee or an iced tea and let the kids stretch their legs after being in the car for so long.

6 Try to set up a new pediatrician before the move. This piece can take weeks to get in place, especially if either your old or new physician is in a particularly busy office. Asking ahead for the new patient paperwork and establishing yourself as quickly as possible is helpful when you’re trying to register the kids for school.

Some school districts require that medical forms to enter school are issued from the state of residence. If you’re moving to a new state, you want to be set up in plenty of time to get your school registration paperwork complete.

7 Know where the playgrounds are in your new town before you head there. Take a few minutes while you’re traveling to your new town to look up the places you can go to run, climb, and get your wiggles out. If you’re moving in the summer, you can find local pools. In the fall, winter, or spring, you might be able to find indoor playgrounds and spaces. Write down the addresses of the playgrounds and keep them close at hand. Moving is stressful for kids, too, and they will need breaks.

8 Schools. Shopping for schools is something that’s hard to do strictly online. This is true for neighborhood schools and preschools. You can look at a website and read reviews, but there’s really nothing like walking through a school to see and feel it for yourself.

If possible, go to your new town and visit the schools you are most interested in. Choose one or two you really like and then look for places to live in those school zones.

These are just a few examples of what you can do to ensure a smooth move for your family this summer. By starting your preparations early, you can reduce stress and be closer to the end goal of settling into a new home and community.

Sara Marchessault is a writer, journal designer, and teacher. Her latest book, “Beyond Pen & Paper: 33 Experiments in Journaling,” goes beyond the habit of conventional journaling. Marchessault and her family moved twice in one year, keeping them all just a little busier than usual. Learn more about her work at saramarchessault.com.

Posted 12:00 am, July 17, 2017
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