Moving - don't do it!

So apparently the 2 most stressful things in life are moving and divorce. So I thought I would do both at once. In the middle of a global pandemic. With a toddler and a Labrador. FML! It’s definitely not been stress free but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s been worth it.

The average person moves 3 or 4 times in their life. Well so far I have moved 11 times with at least 1 more move to go - I am so over moving!! In the past I haven’t found it too stressful as we all know I love an excuse to organise so I go all the way with colour coded labels for the boxes and normally start weeks in advance. This time was just so different for many reasons. Let me take you back to beginning….

About a year ago I told Tom I wanted to put the house on the market. Now legally I didn’t have to do that, I could’ve stayed in the house till Zak was 18 and I was really against it initially but I came to realise it would be a much cleaner break and the better financial option. Both Tom & I sought legal advice separately so we both knew our rights but I am proud that overall we have managed to keep it as civil as possible and not pursue this route. Have there been tears, sassy texts, fraught words and frustrations? Yes of course but on the whole I think we have both tried to make it as easy as possible. It was easier because Tom wasn’t still living at the house and so most of his stuff had gone and what he didn’t take I put in the garage so it really was just my house which just left a few items of furniture to decide on.

Unfortunately the first agent we went with turned out to be an absolute waste of time and just kept wanting us to drop the price. In the 3 months we were with them we had 1 viewing!! At Christmas we swapped to our new agent and they were brilliant, very proactive, used social media endlessly and really understood our situation. We started getting regular viewings and then Covid-19 hit and the housing market shut. Thanks a bunch! So for a few months we obviously could do nothing but I did a few DIY things to the house to get it ready for when it reopened and they kept plugging the house on social media. So once the market opened we actually sold within 2 months. We did make a loss on the house but Tom and I mutually decided we just wanted the whole thing over with so it was better to cut our losses and move on.

Viewings were the most stressful part of the whole process and definitely a test of my multi-tasking skills. I like a clean and tidy house and many things have ‘their place’ but with a toddler and a dog you have to accept that’s never going to stay that way, at least whilst they are awake! A popular time for the viewings was a Saturday morning which made sense in general as it allowed me Friday night to clean and get the boys out the house but the actual process on the Saturday morning was ridiculous! Keeping Zak and Bongo still and in 1 place so I could finish hoovering and mopping. I tried sitting Zak in the buggy with snacks watching TV so I could just wheel him out the door or another time I put them both in the car with the front door open so I could see them both as I sprayed the lounge down and then took them off to Lydiard for a run. I escaped to mum and dads a couple of times and a couple of occasions Jay had stayed the night before (when I was child free) so I had an extra pair of hands to help! But honestly my stress levels would reach unhealthy levels in the minutes before the viewings and it was every single week. I was so torn between gratitude for the viewings and pure annoyance at them – we did get a couple of offers that were too low but in the end we counter offered and decided the whole thing just needed to be over with!

So phew! Now we have sold. It was just packing up a 3 bedroom house, by myself and finding somewhere to live to deal with now. My long term plan is to buy one of the new houses being built in Cricklade but they aren’t released for Sale till November and can’t move in till March/April time –

another delay because of Covid! So I needed a plan B just for 6 months. Well I started with about 10 different options and 1 by 1 they all fell through and it got to a few weeks before where I still didn’t have something secured and I was joking I was going to be homeless because I was starting to panic a little. Luckily friends of ours came to the rescue and had recently bought a 2 bedroom flat in Cricklade which surprised me so much when I viewed it, that it quickly came the best option. I think some people assumed I would go to mum & dads and I get that but it’s just not practical. There’s not enough room, they were having their kitchen redone and quite frankly I’d feel suffocated. I love my parents to pieces and I have a very special relationship with both of them but a holiday is enough time with them, not living with them for 6 months!

The flat has lots of perks in the sense that everything is on 1 level and Zak certainly seems to enjoy that, many a time I have been having a wee and he scoots past on his car. Or I can be in the kitchen and still see him in the living room. It’s such a big flat it’s been able to accommodate nearly all my furniture so I only had to get a small storage for the stuff I couldn’t fit and Zak’s room is about triple the size he had in the last house and he has so much more space to play. It’s so nice still being in Cricklade and we can literally see my parent’s house from the flat.

The flat does come with a couple of downsides in the sense it’s on the main road so is quite noisy and the windows aren’t the best but it doesn’t seem to bother Zak and I’m so exhausted I just pass out at night so it’s not really disturbing us, it’s just noticeably different when in the last house the most noise we got was cow’s mooing. The biggest challenge is it’s a 1st floor flat. I know this might sound whingy and I don’t mean it to and for most people I don’t think it would be a problem but with Zak it is proving a little tricky. I miss the luxury of being able to park right outside the house so I can just nip in and now parking across the road is just so much further to carry Zak, shopping and whatever else we need. I can’t ever leave Zak unattended for a second because his balance could go at any point so he could fall and injure himself badly and mix that with the lack of fear he has, it would be a recipe for disaster if I left him in the flat to nip back and forth with shopping and if I left in strapped in the car he would just scream murder. So I just try and do shopping on the days I don’t have Zak and I make every trip out of the flat worth it so load myself up as much as I can with rubbish, recycling etc. I am also not allowed to keep the buggy in the hallway, so I have a little shed outside I keep the main frame in but I can’t keep the main seat in there as it will get damp and mouldy so I keep that in the flat and carry it down each time. Which means carrying Zak and a buggy insert (and whatever else I am juggling) which is certainly not the easiest, when my child weighs a bloody lot. We are making it work and I really do love the flat, it’s just killing my shoulder and back and I’m now needing treatment to ease these. I think for most people with a 2 yr. old it wouldn’t be a problem as the reality is they would be walking and although probably couldn’t walk a great distance they could at least walk down the stairs and stand next to you whilst you put the buggy together. Zak is still unlikely to walk for at least another 6-12 months and he’s working really hard on his balance lately but even when he does walk he’s still going to need the buggy as he will tire so quickly, so whilst we are in the flat this is just a challenge we have to face. It’s not Zak’s fault, in fact it’s no one’s fault it’s just the reality of the situation and I’m not about to push Zak or complain about it, I’m just trying to get on with it. I just dream of living in a house again where I can have the buggy already set up downstairs and maybe I’ll just get immense upper body strength?

I think that was one of the biggest challenges in the moving process was a lack of hands/muscle. Of the 11 times I have moved 10 of them have been with Tom. So I was used to having him do the heavy lifting, him to pack up half the house and someone to just help generally. This time it was just me. Don’t get me wrong I had a loyal team of helpers who were on hand to assist on the day but getting ready for the day was the bit I found hard. Also Tom and I would live out of boxes for a few weeks leading up to moving the thought of doing that with Zak felt too stressful so it was a mad rush the week before to get everything done and lots of late nights! We all know I am about equality and now I am so much fitter it’s not like I am afraid of a bit of heavy lifting or hard work but it’s still hard when it’s just me. I took the opportunity to do the worst jobs like loft, garage and spare bedroom when I didn’t have Zak so I could focus properly and then just pack the rest up in the evenings when Zak was in bed. Kids just come with so much stuff, its ridiculous! So many toys and clothes and I kept a lot of Zak’s baby stuff for my friend who is expecting but also in the secret hope I might have more children (not looking likely anytime soon!) cos it was too good to throw away or sell. I also put off packing up the kitchen to the end – bad idea. Every time I walked in the kitchen it made me feel sick knowing how much there was to do and I was definitely in denial about it, so when I started about 10 days before the move I was so cross at myself for not starting sooner. I did take the opportunity to have a huge clear out of ‘stuff’ and a lot of what I didn’t want went to Tom or the tip which obviously helped and was pretty satisfying. I was up till nearly midnight the night before the move but I managed it and then the next morning my team of loyal helpers were on hand. I moved out on the Thursday the day before exchange & completion (it was planned for simultaneous) so that on the Friday mum & I could just clean and hand the keys over. Actual moving day (Thursday) went really smoothly, we got everything in the flat, storage and did a tip run all by 4pm. There was no major breakages or catastrophes and we even stopped for ½ hr lunch break at mums.

The next day however did not go to plan. Friday was an absolute car crash of a day and I honestly don’t know how I didn’t drink a bottle of vodka! Thursday night Zak & I stayed at mums so I didn’t have the stress of getting the flat ready, but Zak had me up half the night with pain episodes. I dropped him at nursery and after breakfast mum and I hit the house to get scrubbing only for the agent to ring to say it was looking unlikely to complete today but he would update me. The solicitor confirmed half hour later not only were we not completing today, we weren’t even exchanging as there was a paperwork hold up at the bottom of the chain and our buyers were now asking for 2 weeks’ time! Not an option for obvious reasons and I was certainly feeling stressed but my solicitor was incredible and said we would exchange the following week and complete the week after, she fought hard but the reality was it was no one’s fault and just one of those things. Just after this call, the shower screen door fell off in the bathroom – great a job for dad to fix before I hand the keys over, at least I had 2 weeks now! It poured with rain all day, everything I picked up I dropped, every job I tried to do took 3 attempts, my phone battery died, we had more stuff at the house than we remembered and cramming it in mums 3 door car was a challenge in itself. The sky guy was coming between 12pm-5pm to set me up in the flat and obviously he didn’t come till 4:30pm (though he did ask me out – shame he wasn’t fit). Honestly it was just one of those days and after mum & I had pizza I ended up going to bed at 8pm and sleeping like a log! The weekend was better as I got straight in the flat and when Zak came back from Tom’s Sunday night he loved exploring and it made it all worth it. I got unpacked really quickly as I wanted us to settle in as quick as possible, Zak is so adaptable but I try really hard to limit the disruption to his routine so I think that helps.

I can’t believe we have been in the flat nearly a month, its gone so quickly but at the same time it feels so much longer as we are so settled. Its honestly such a lovely flat, my neighbours are lovely and we have got into a good routine of walking Bongo every morning so the boys keep that special bond. The plan for the new house is definitely still what I am working on and it’s about setting Zak and I up for the long haul. I need to do this for us, I need to know I secured our future, and by myself without depending on anyone. The thought of moving again makes me feel sick but its 6 months away and if 2020 has taught me anything it’s to take things 1 day at a time! As someone who is rather impatient, it certainly has been a test of my skills and I’m learning to accept help but the end is in sight now, I can do this, I will do this! I honestly have the best crowd of people around me and are always there to help pack boxes, clean, drive vans, make cups of tea and drink endless of bottles of wine with me. I keep reminding myself good things come to those who wait and it really will be worth it all, I just might be an alcoholic by the end of it….