Sunday, May 26, 2013

How to Survive Packing (Especially When You're an Introvert)

Are you good at labeling and organizing all of your things when packing up? Is moving easy for you?

No? Oh, good. We’re in the same boat, then.

I’m awful at packing … especially the organizational part of it. It’s the little things that do my head in – like all the stuff that goes in the junk drawer. What to do with it all? My eyes glaze over and I enter a near-comatose state until tears threaten. 

After moving 12 times in the last 11 years, you’d think I’d be used to packing-up, but I’m not. The only thing I’d like to do when moving is go in my room, lock the door, crawl in bed, and throw the covers over my head in hopes of willing it all away … or wishing to be magically transported to my new location with everything set-up and unpacked, ready to go.

Instead, I often feel overwhelmed. Moving always means more of stuff: more mess; more messy emotions; more people; more stress; more boxes; more chaos. I prefer the simple, quiet, non-intrusive life.  A move rips all of that out from your grips and tosses it around the house, into your yard, your garage, your head … not caring where any of it lands. There’s not much of a choice left then: You have to deal with the mess, even when you’re feeling like a big, bundle of mess.

So what to do? How to cope with the chaos and more-ness of a move? And what if you’re an introvert? Oh, and what if you’re an introvert and a HSP (highly sensitive person)? 

Well, to start, you have to hold on tight, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and hope the whole thing will be over quickly. While the moving stress builds, there are some things you can do that will help a bit. Especially when packing up. 

 Before the move

Get a moving company to pack your stuff up for you. No, this doesn’t make it stress-free. You still have to organize all your stuff, put it in piles (air shipment, give away, throw away, container shipment), and oversee their packing; but it will allow you to have less sore muscles and you’ll get time for tea. (I also realize that this isn't a realistic option for many people.)

Fill out a checklist/inventory of your belongings before the movers come. It’s boring to fill out, but super important. Do so with care and if the checklist provided by the moving company isn’t adequate, just walk around the house with a notepad + write down what you have. Type it up. If you’re insuring your belongings, it will be a requirement to complete the form. 

List any individual items worth over $500 (high value items). Take pics of those items on your phone. (And don’t delete them until your belongings have safely arrived at your new destination.) Some people get really into this part and take pictures of everything and really write a detailed list. If you can handle that, do it!

The night before packing

Have a nice meal. Make it easy, simple. Go out if you want. My husband makes a mean Shepherd’s Pie and he took the time to do that the night before the packers came. It was a very kind gesture, especially considering we’re getting a divorce. His response was, “I figured we could all use a bit of comfort food tonight.” He was right. He even did all the dishes after.

Get a good night’s sleep. Take a sleeping pill if you must. (I wish I did this.)

Plan a few days to pack things into boxes before the removal people show up.

Feed the movers + be very polite to them. At least give them drinks and make sure they take a lunch break. Remember: they’re handling your possessions, so don’t piss them off. 

Wake up early. Give yourself time to lean into the morning without too much stress or running around.  Take a leisurely breakfast if you can. If this doesn’t work…

Drink coffee or tea (slowly) before the movers show up. Take care of yourself and do what you need to mentally prepare for the chaos. 

If you’re a HSP and/or an introvert 

You’ll want to take extra care. It can be helpful to reduce the number of strangers in the house and especially the number of children. My extra-loving-advice for youHSP/innies:

Reduce the number of people in the house while packing/moving, or at least limit it to the best of your ability. At the same time, I strongly recommend - if you can afford it - to get packers in because though it's not an easy fix and it is still overwhelming to have to make sure strangers are packing your things correctly, it can afford you little breaks where you can get away for a few minutes.

Have quiet time in the morning before everything is lashed upon you. The sounds of packing, the smells, the sight of your belongings all over, the mess, and the people will all be enough for you to go on sensory overload. 

Ask a friend/partner/family member to help you out. They can help manage the movers and you can have sneaky quiet time in the restroom, a bedroom, or wherever to give you those moments of being able to regroup.

I once had a lovely experience where my friend brought over take away from a nice Italian restaurant. She had plastic wine glasses and after the movers left, we sat on the floor and had a picnic of yummy food and wine. I was so grateful to her. 

Call friends when the movers are packing things. It's a strange time to sit in the house as it goes echo-y. You may not want a lot of people physically around, but it can be helpful to reach out and talk to someone about how you're feeling.  

What are things that help you? I'd love to hear your tricks and tips!