How Not To Move In One Easy Lesson

Contributed photo. No endorsement of Home Depot intended.


Here is the moving protocol I followed. I don’t recommend it. It was time-consuming and quite expensive. Real life often is:

Stay in one place, more or less, for 32 years. Have 5 kids, including twins. Raise them as a single mom. Encourage them to invite their friends over as often as possible. Tell their friends to make themselves at home. Put up monkey bars in the laundry room and a trampoline in the back yard. Fill the rooms with books, lots and lots of books. Build bookcases in every corner of the home, and never pass a used bookstore without looking for a copy of Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ to replace the copy your ex-boyfriend stole decades ago.

Since one of your children has multiple disabilities, decorate your house in Early Neurological: lots of giant bouncy balls, those monkey bars, and hang a swing from the ceiling in the living room. Build a crawling track for the little guy, to encourage him to move. Leave all these things lying around the house long after the little guy has outgrown them. Finally donate some neuro toys to other families, but hold on to those monkey bars. Buy a new trampoline when the old one wears out.

Save every scrap of paper the kids drew on. As the piles of stuff get higher, buy more containers. Stack up containers in the attic, the basement, everywhere you can. No, that doesn’t count as hoarding — it’s for the kids. What kind of mom would I be if I threw out their creative masterpieces?

Wait ’til the house is absolutely full of stuff, then marry a wonderful guy who also has lots of stuff. Not just books, but tools and machines, mowers and blowers, tractors and targets, hunting equipment, golf clubs and more. Persuade him to move into your house with all of his stuff. Just pile it up higher. Build an enormous shed in the backyard to hold some of his stuff temporarily, until you two can figure out a solution.

Realize the shed isn’t big enough. Start throwing out stuff. Finally realize you have to move. Wrestle with that idea for a while, because, after all, most of your kids were born at home, right there in the house. Keep tripping over stuff piled up in every corner. Oldest child turns 34, and announces she’s expecting your third grandson. Realize your kids aren’t kids anymore.

Ask the kids to come home and pick up some of their stuff. Send them pictures on Facebook of stuff you’ve saved, asking

“Do you remember this? Do you still want it?”

family photo

Clean out the basement. Start working on the attic. Every time the kids come up to visit, send them back with stuff. Take pictures of their favorite artistic masterpieces and toss them — the masterpieces, not the photos.

Save all their essays and smaller pictures. Frame a few. Toss the rest. Get really good at tossing stuff you didn’t really care about anyway.

After a year of searching, find the perfect house (see New House, My Love, We Meet At Last), which happens to be twice as big as the one you’re living in now. After all, you’re a realist. You’re not tossing everything. You and your husband still have a lot of stuff.

Start packing. You make it a goal to pack one or two boxes (see picture, above) every day. You make a few trips to the local free library, with donations. The local high school is delighted when you drop off the huge SAT study guides your daughter used when she was tutoring. That’s six boxes of books you don’t have to move, because you gave them away.

Don’t you feel lighter? Its sort of like going on a diet, only you still get to eat chocolate mousse and raspberry sorbet. Hmmm. Actually, your house just went on a diet. Sort of.

A woman down the road has a baby. You drop off that bulky baby present that’s been sitting in your closet for the past year because youngest grandson outgrew it already. And your closet looks much emptier. Nice.

Start sanding and painting, to cover up all the dings those kids put into the house over the years. Paint the house, inside and out. Your house starts looking better than it ever did. You have second thought about moving but then you remember New House, sitting there in all its glory, waiting for you. You remember the pond and the orchard, and the really nice new neighbors who can’t wait to meet you.

Pack a few more boxes. Visit the New House’s current owners. Laugh when you realize your house looks just like theirs, with boxes piled up in every corner. Measure the windows, contemplate hiring a painter ’cause you’re tired of painting.

Give notice on your job. Foolishly admit, since you haven’t put Old House on the market yet, that you might be around for another month. Hold off on letting a potential employer close by New House know that you might be available. Remember, wisely, you still have a lot of packing to do.

Round up a few of those strong, grown-up adult children to help with the move. Rejoice when another young man volunteers to help them. Realize how much you’re going to miss this place you call home. Dig up a few of your favorite plants, spreading the other plants so there won’t be any empty spots. Plant a spring garden for whoever buys the house, plants that don’t need a lot of care, since you won’t be there to tend to them.

Finish packing. Contact the real estate agent. Point out all the new upgrades, let her know the price is somewhat flexible. Leave a bottle of champagne in the fridge, to celebrate when Old House sells. Clean the house one more time.

Say goodbye. Realize its time to move on. Attend the closing on New House and celebrate living in a house that isn’t yours or mine. This is ours.

As I said, I don’t recommend my method of moving to anyone. But its (nearly) done, and we survived. Hopefully, you will too.



Writer, editor, advocate, occasional organist/cantor. You can find me at or on

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