If I had a friend who was undertaking an interstate move with one teen and four pets after almost 20 years in the same house, I would tell her congratulations on the new house!
And also that I would miss her very much.
I would remind her that moving is a really big deal–that even when you move across town to a bigger place, it’s tough to sort and prioritize and pack and think about where everything goes.
And it’s time-consuming. She’s probably forgotten how much time it takes to sort, pack, and purge. And she had far fewer things to sort, pack, and purge twenty years and two kids ago. She might need a reminder about that.
I would probably mention to her that while I know she really wants to purge all the non-essentials before she moves, some of those non-essentials will likely come along, and that’s okay. They have dumpsters in other states, too.
She might mention that it’s all pretty overwhelming, and she’s finding it hard to meet her goals in the midst of moving.
I would remind her that buying this new house and moving are some goals she set for the year, so she is accomplishing them by enduring the process.
I might also say to her that if all she does at work for a couple of weeks is damage control–the things that must be done–everything will be okay. There is time to catch up later.
Especially on her pet projects. Those will wait. They are not going anywhere. They are in the cloud.
When she is feeling a little sentimental and sad about leaving a house and a child behind, I would give her a hug and tell her it’s okay to be conflicted about such a major move. It’s all right to look forward to the new adventure and feel misty-eyed about what is behind.
And if she were a very good friend, I might remind her of Edna Mode:
I would probably also tell her that no matter what she does during the last couple of weeks in her house, the house is going to be a disaster. It just is. Any time that she may have normally used to clean (and admittedly, if she’s my friend, she’s probably not much for cleaning) is going to be used for the aforementioned sorting, packing, and purging and not so much for scrubbing toilets.
This is how it is during a move.
In addition to the dog hair, dirty dishes, and toilet rings, she will probably find herself staring at tape fragments, cardboard box dust, piles “to be sorted later,” piles for the landfill, piles for Goodwill, and piles for miscellaneous other places, like paint recycling and e-recycling and bottle recycling and all the recycling.
She will not be able to find scissors, tape, Sharpies, or her Leatherman. She should accept defeat now and not waste time looking for them. When the student is ready, those things will appear, magically, probably right where she left them.
Also, I might mention that she should buy another box of Band-Aids, because I know how she is with pocket knives.
I will remind her that self-care is important, but that if she does not get out for exercise even one time during the throes of moving, it is okay. She can lose weight later. This period is no different than being sick or injured or on vacation. There are seasons when exercise cannot be top priority, and that is okay.
I might suggest to her that she have a couple of bottles of wine on hand, too. And some chocolate.
And I might remind her that it’s okay to eat out a lot, especially since a lot of people might want to see her before she goes.
I would tell her that even if she thinks people won’t miss her, they will. She is both more and less important than she believes. She has friends and family who love her, and they will want to visit and want her to visit them.
She should also remember, though, that people talk a lot about things they will do someday, and a lot of those things don’t happen, so maybe she doesn’t need to stress too much about having friends visit every weekend.
Most of all, I would tell her that things are going to be okay. Moving is hard. There’s a reason that it’s listed as one of the biggest stressors a person will experience. I would remind her that even though she wants to be strong and do everything, she’s only human. She’s going to be stressed out, and that’s okay.
I would tell her it’s okay to laugh and be excited and enjoy the process. And I would tell her it’s okay to cry, too.
It’s easy to be kind to my friends–much harder to be kind to myself. But if I think of myself as a friend, maybe I can make it a little easier.
What would you tell my friend who is moving?