5 Stages of Moving With Small Children

henryinboxI love moving with small children. It’s no problem as long as you enjoy exploring new levels of exhaustion. I learned during our recent move that August is an ideal time. In the brutal heat, you will consider leaving your whining children behind. You will discover who you really are when you slam your thumb in the truck door. Make sure your mother-in-law or someone else you wish to impress is standing nearby. But hands down, the highlight of moving is the short-term stress placed on your marriage. For twenty-four hours, you will get to flirt with divorce.

I believe there are five stages to moving with children:

Stage 1: Two fools standing in a front lawn next to a sold sign. This is so exciting! Let’s rent a truck. Purchase overpriced cardboard. Order an unaffordable couch and try out fancy mattresses. We are having a blast. While we are it, let’s pose our child in a large box and share it on FaceSnap. Moving is awesome!

Stage 2: Ugh. Packing sucks. Why do we have so much junk? I thought we put the George Foreman grille in the yard sale. Did we not donate the back-up microwave? Why the heck do we have so many juice glasses? We are not wealthy. By the way, I can’t find the car keys. I’m pretty sure the toddler packed them in a box buried in the corner of the garage. We might never find them again. Why are we doing this again?

Stage 3: Standing in line at the U-haul store. I’m staring down the obnoxious man complaining non-stop and causing the line to stretch out the door. I second guess what truck size to order. My wife is inspecting the new house and texts me to let me know someone left urine in the upstairs bathroom and it smells like a middle school locker room. Wonderful. If our marriage survives this event, it will be by the grace of God. If I remember correctly, it was included in the vows: on moving days, you will take deep breaths, resist the urge to stab your partner and delay contacting a divorce lawyer until seventy two hours after the move.

Finally, we are loading the moving truck. My arms are about to fall off. Please tell me why we chose to move in the middle of summer. I’ve not sweated this much since high school gym class. And I just spent the last thirty minutes trying to move a crib into the truck. They are the furniture from hell. I hate their awkward shape. I hate putting them together. They make me want to set things on fire. And I swear if my spouse gives me one more set of instructions I’m gonna commit a murder-suey in our new home before we ever sleep in it. Things are not looking good.

Stage Four:  There are different levels of tired. There is marathon running tired, which I will never experience because I’m too lazy, and there is birthing a baby tired, which I will never experience due to biology, and then there is moving tired that falls somewhere under these two. It’s the type of tired that aches across your entire body, confusing muscles you have not used in ages. Paper cuts. Bruised hands. Sweat drenched shirts. And an inability to speak complete sentences by dinnertime.

During this stage, any thought of efficiency or organization flies out the window. All you can think about is the pain ending. Over. Done. Stopping. So, you throw crap in boxes, mixing kitchen utensils with lawn care or bathroom supplies with wine glasses. You no longer care that your toddler is digging through the box of kitchen cutlery. In fact, you are glad it is entertaining him for a minute. This is moving tired.

Stage 5: The move ends. Not the sentimental moment you wanted, but it is over. No fancy goodbye. No made-for-television moments including a wave goodbye to the old house. None of that nonsense, just prayers of thanksgiving for the conclusion of a process that broke you and nearly dissolved your marriage and led you to question your commitment to parenting. Now, you can exhale. Lean against a pile of boxes. Or just go to sleep. Of course, you swear you will never move again but we know that is unlikely. Time will cause you to forget the suffering.

Remember this:  When the delusion seizes you again and you hear yourself talking about how much you look forward to moving. Pause. Take a deep breath. If necessary, slap yourself. At the least, hire professional movers and know its worth the cost to maintain your sanity.