Moving Tips from the Flip Side

I swear I won’t post too much more about the move, but it is a big event in our lives, obviously.  And since I blog about our lives, it may have a few more appearances.  In case anyone is gearing up for a move, I thought I would post some things that we did, or really wish we had done for the move.

Some things we did:

I did a moving log.  Turns out, I didn’t really need this.  To be fair, it got to be about a week before, and my parents were after the movedoing some of the packing, and at the very end, we resorted to putting things in the nearest box, so it didn’t turn out to be very useful at all.  If you’re going to do something like this, you should start earlier than I did, and be committed to it for it to work, because truthfully, you’re not going to be looking for “books” after the move.  You’re going to be looking for hardware for the bookshelf and your son’s birth certificate.  Ahem.

We went cheap on the truck.  And I’m not sure if I would do it again.  We compared truck prices, and Budget was by far the cheapest and included unlimited miles, which is rather important when you’re moving 14 hours away.  But there are definitely some trade-offs for the price.  Truthfully, I could never have afforded the other companies, but using Budget was kind of a trying experience.  Not terrible, but anxiety-worthy.

You are probably going to end up purchasing at least some boxes and some packing material.  I found Home Depot to have the cheapest bubble wrap and paper, and Walmart to have the cheapest boxes.  If you live close to the store, you can do what I did: buy what you think you need, and then go back again (and again) to replenish.  If not, buy double what you think you need.

Schedule a donation pickup with Vietnam Veterans of America.  They will often come with only 24 hours notice, and are very reliable about coming when they say they will.  Be warned that if you have more than 25 items, you will need to schedule two different pick-up appointments.

For the final clean-out, purchase construction-grade trash bags of at least 3 mil thickness.  These are great for those last minute things that you decide will not be going on the truck, and they are sturdy enough to withstand weather and animals in the days on the curb after you move.

Use Facebook and Craigslist to get a few bucks out of your bigger items that aren’t making the trip.  We did a garage sale and it was rather a waste of time.  I sold most of our bigger items to friends via Facebook and people on Craigslist.  Be smart about it, and you can make some decent cash.  We earned enough for our gas and hotel on the way down!

Some things I wish we had done:

Try to do as much paperwork as you can in advance.  Just about everything is online now, and you can look up what you will need to do to register your kids for school, get a new driver’s license, etc. in advance.  Do this and locate all of the necessary stuff while you know where it is.  Put it in a brightly colored folder that you take with you in your vehicle, and don’t let it out of your sight.  I didn’t do this, and I am stuck until I can find all the documents I need (if I had a nickel for every time I say to myself, “but I saw it just the other day!!”…).

Be ruthless about purging before you pack.  I actually did quite well with this, but there always seems to be more stuff, doesn’t there?  You will most likely have donations and trash before and after you move, but it’s a lot easier if you can get rid of most of it before you have to find new places for all your stuff in your new home.  This is especially important if you are having anyone come to help you pack your stuff.  You may know that the bin of old clothes isn’t intended for the move, but your helpers certainly won’t, and may end up packing it up for you.

Be realistic about space planning in your new home.  Empty rooms seem so much larger than they really are.  Make sure you are being realistic about how much stuff can actually go into a 12×10 room…

Don’t kick yourself if it doesn’t go perfectly.  It won’t.  And you will be just fine.  Be prepared for things to go wrong, and then when they do, you can handle it with aplomb.  Think of it as an adventure rather than a task on your to to-do list, and try to have fun!

I hope these tips help.  Feel free to add more from your own moving experiences in the comments below!

Me-Time (Fantastic Babysitters are a Necessity)

Babysitting

Babysitting (Photo credit: Daquella manera)

Today, our babysitter picked up The Boy and took him for the day, leaving me with a whole chunk of Me-Time.

There are plenty of single moms out there who will tell you that they feel guilty leaving their kids with a babysitter so that they can pursue selfish interests.  I would not be one of those single moms.  I also don’t feel guilty being a working mom, because being a career woman is part of my identity.  If I stay too long at home, I go stir-crazy, and so does The Boy.  To him, there IS such a thing as too much vacation (this is where I think he’s a little nuts, but different strokes, right?).

Me-Time is essential to me, for my sanity.  You may think I am using that term loosely, but if you have a kid with special needs, you know that your brain works similarly to that of a battle medic – always alert for a major disaster, and ready to solve problems at a moment’s notice.  Me-Time is a break from that, and it is blissful.  It recharges me, and helps me come back to my child, appreciating him for the amazing kid that he is.

In my Singlemomdom, I am an only child, meaning I do not have siblings ready and willing to provide free babysitting.  And my parents live 900 miles away.  Therefore, I rely heavily on babysitters.  This is not a foolproof system, and there are times when I just can’t do what I’d need or like to do.  I have had to take days off of work, often at inopportune times, but that’s just part of it.  There isn’t any more I can do about it, so stressing about it isn’t going to help anyone.

But how do I find Fantastic Babysitters? It isn’t easy, and I will give you my disclaimer now that, as a teacher, I kind of have an advantage.  I have a bevy of former students whom I know I can trust with my only offspring.  But not even this has always worked out well.

I found our best and most fantastic babysitter on Craigslist (remember when I told you about Craigslist??).  It was shortly after the divorce was final, and I realized that I would need someone pretty regularly, as my job requires me to attend several evening functions every month.  I looked on Craigslist, and narrowed my choices down to three.  I contacted them, asked for resumes and references, and scheduled interviews.  I found excellent questions to ask online, and also asked about their experiences with kids with special needs.  From those interviews, it was a no-brainer which one I would hire, and four years later, she is like one of the family.

There are other resources out there as well, if you just aren’t in a financial place to be able to afford babysitters.  Think about swapping time with a friend who has kids, or contacting your local National Honor Society chapter to see if any of their members need service hours.  College students may also need service hours, or observation hours if they are entering the education or child development fields.  If you have kids who have special needs, contact some of your local special needs groups to see if they offer respite care, or know of any organizations that do.

I think we single moms can fall easily into the martyr role, and truthfully, some of us revel in that.  I work hard, and truthfully, I’m a better mom because I’ve had to do it on my own, but I am also a better mom because I take time for myself.  I have not put my interests and hobbies on the back burner until my son turns 18.  Maybe that’s because unlike moms of neurotypical kids, I may not have an empty nest at that point, and my nest may never be empty, but that’s for another post.  I still need to be me, and I still need alone time to pursue those interests.  If I don’t I will grow to resent this precious boy of mine.  It helps to have a Fantastic Babysitter, so if you don’t have one yet, go get one!  You won’t know what you ever did without him/her!!