6 Steps to a Stress-Free Move after the Divorce

If you and your spouse are separating, chances are that at least one of you will be moving in the near future. Here are some tips to decrease stress on moving day:

1.

Reduce, Recycle, (Let Someone Else) Reuse


Okay, I admit it, I'm a pack rat. I love flea markets, auction sales, tag sales, and curbside cast-offs. I've kept every card or letter anyone has ever sent to me, and I'm not likely to change. But here's a word to the wise. Movers charge by the hour, so the less you have to pack, the better. Chances are that you may also be moving to a smaller home. So do yourself a favor by getting rid of things like outdated school text books, cracked mirrors, tables with three legs, lawn chairs someone fell through at your last Fourth of July party, or leftover bits and pieces of drywall. Think of this as an opportunity to begin a new, more organized life! Hold a garage sale, or distribute unwanted belongings to friends and relatives or to your local thrift shop. (Ask for a tax receipt if donating goods to charity.)

2. Choose Your Movers Carefully
Unless you have a pickup truck and a lot of energy, you'll need help with your move. I stopped asking friends to help me move a long time ago. If you insist on enlisting your friends, be considerate of their time, buy them lunch or any other meals that coincide with the move, and remember, you could be asked to return the favor one day!

If you're planning to use professional movers, check with family and friends for their recommendations. Be sure to call at least three reputable movers when asking for quotes. Usually, this means a visit to your house so that they can check out what they'll be heaving into their truck. Remember, all quotes will be approximate. (My latest move took five hours longer than the estimate!) Be sure to ask how many movers will work on your job and what kind of truck they plan to use. (I had three movers, but they brought a much smaller truck than I needed, which caused delays in my move.) If you've moved recently, be sure to ask about "volume discounts." The moving business is highly competitive, and your mover may decide to reward your loyalty with a lower hourly rate.

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3. Packing
Moving companies can supply you with sturdy boxes of all sizes for your books, breakables, and clothing. You'll have to buy or rent these boxes, but they'll save both time and money in the long run. They're more consistent in shape than those you pick up at the supermarket or wine shop, so the movers can work quickly. You also won't have to worry about the bottom falling out of the banana box. If you're allergic to packing, the movers will do it for you -- for a fee, of course. If your new home doesn't have a dishwasher, pack your breakables in white or brown kraft paper (available by the roll at craft stores or printing companies) or tissue paper rather than newsprint. Take the time to pack boxes carefully, one room at a time. You'll curse yourself later if you pack living-room knickknacks with the kids' toys, or books with gardening tools. Label boxes carefully with a wide-tip black marker so movers can quickly unload them into the appropriate rooms in your new home.

4. Moving Day
If you've decided to use movers, it's best to stay out of their way while the move is taking place. They'll be looking to you for direction, not for an extra pair of hands at the other end of the wall unit. You might want to consider designating one or two rooms at the other end as unloading areas for non-essential boxes. This will save you moving time and expense. Even if your move is insured and your boxes well-packed, always transport valuable, fragile, or treasured goods -- such as family heirlooms, lamps, and electronic equipment -- in your own vehicle. You should also carefully pack and personally transport your legal documents, bills, and other important business papers.

5. Unpacking
Now the real fun begins. Start by unpacking the essentials: bed linens, underwear, bathroom products, coffee-maker, and corkscrew were my priority items. Be sure to unpack kitchen boxes in the kitchen and bathroom boxes in the bathroom. You'll be amazed at the steps you'll save -- and you'll thank yourself for the great job you did packing and labeling your boxes.

6. Nesting
Once you've got the basics under control, give yourself permission to rest for a while and enjoy your new home. Invite a few friends over for take-out food -- and don't worry about the mess. You've just moved, so no-one expects the place to look like House Beautiful! Enjoy this grace period, and complete the job over the next few weeks. Or, if your new accommodations are temporary, you might not want to unpack at all. Just think how much easier your next move will be!

A Mover's Calendar

Moving, like any major life change, can be stressful. Careful planning can help alleviate some of this stress. Here's a handy calendar to help ease you through the transition and get you moving in the right direction.

Six to Eight Weeks Before

  • Decide on the best moving date and confirm with your employer.
  • Research different moving companies in your local Yellow Pages or ask friends or relatives for recommendations.
  • Ask two or three companies for a written estimate.
  • Book the move, and request a letter of confirmation from your mover stating date and arrival time.
  • If you have children, remember that the move will affect them, too. Be sure to keep them apprised of all of the plans. Take photos of your new home to show them if they haven't already seen it. Notify teachers, coaches, and all of your children's organizations or clubs, as well as friends and family members (including your ex).

Four to Six Weeks Before

  • Begin to sort through your belongings.
  • Hold a garage sale with family members and friends. (You might feel more comfortable holding it at a friend's house.)
  • Donate any unsold or unwanted goods to charity.
  • Arrange for the removal of unwanted appliances, such as refrigerators or freezers. (Used appliance stores will often remove these items at no charge.)
  • Make arrangements to store items that won't fit in your new home in a mini-storage unit or at a friend's house.



Two to Three Weeks Before

  • Begin packing. Designate a room in your home or an area where you can pile boxes with the least amount of disruption to your daily life. Store fragile items, or items you plan to transport in your own vehicle, in a separate location.
  • Call the utility companies and make arrangements to disconnect services in your existing home.
  • Arrange connection of utilities in your new home.
  • Contact the post office.
  • Notify your family doctor, dentist, and veterinarian of your moving date, your new address, and your new phone number.
  • Order new checks.
  • Send out change-of-address notices to insurance companies, local service contractors, the library, department stores, credit-card companies, banks, associations, your lawyer and/or other professional advisors, magazines, and of course, friends and family.
  • Book a baby-sitter to help you take care of the kids on moving day.
  • Stock up on healthy convenience foods, such as prepackaged veggies, low-fat frozen entrees, and fruit.
  • Reduce stress by taking a night off to see a movie with your kids, or go out for dinner with a friend.

One Week Before

  • This is it -- the crunch is on. Check packing supplies and supplement, if necessary. Invest in a tape gun and a thick black marker.
  • Pack essentials, such as pots and pans, toiletries, light bulbs, and work clothes. Be sure to mark boxes "pack last," or "take in car."
  • Cancel newspaper delivery and arrange delivery service at your new home.
  • Complete last-minute financial tasks.
  • Clean apartment or house, or arrange for a professional cleaning service to clean after you move.
  • Defrost refrigerator, clean, and dry. Pack freezer items in a cooler or give away to friends.
  • Organize important legal and financial papers and stash in a portable file or banker's box. Transport these papers in your own vehicle.

Divorce Magazine provides advice and support for those coping with separation, divorce, and remarriage. For more tips and stories, visit www.DivorceMagazine.com.

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