My friend Courtney smiled brightly and pushed open her screen door. My four-year-old daughter made her way to the toys, waiting to be played with in Courtney’s living room, while I said thank you! thank you so much! over and over again.
A few weeks ago, our family moved from our small town in western Oklahoma home to a new neighborhood in Oklahoma City. To save on moving costs, we decided (once again) to pack and move ourselves, and Courtney came to the rescue with her offer to keep my little one while I packed and planned.
We’re no strangers to the moving process; in fact, we are kind of old pros. By the time I turned eighteen, my family had moved eight times, and my husband and I have moved six times in the nearly fourteen years we’ve been married.
Throughout all of these moves, I’ve taken note of how people have provided support to our family as we navigated the always-stressful moments of moving. Since many families take advantage of school-free days of summer to make a big move, I thought I might share some of the ways we can provide the most help to friends who are moving – whether it’s across town or across the country.
1. Find boxes
Photo by Katie Tegtmeyer
Moving budgets can vary dramatically, and some people will have the luxury of hiring a moving service both to pack and move their belongings. For those who don’t have that option, it can be such a relief to have a friend who will scour Craigslist or hit up local businesses for boxes.
2. Help with packing (or not)
For me, packing is an intensely personal part of the moving process. Even though we try to purge what we don’t need, use, or want on a semi-regular basis, when it comes to choosing what items will actually make the cut to find a place in a new home, well, that’s a process I prefer to do on my own.
However, if your friend already has a good sense of what is making the move to a new home, or if they tend to pack it all and sort and purge at the new place, packing boxes could be major hands-on help.
3. Manage sold items and donations
In our last move, we had to downsize quite a bit, and we discovered there was a lot of stuff that needed new homes before moving day. In a time crunch, it can be distracting to meet with people buying items for sale, as well as finding a place to donate items to charity.
Ask your friend how you can help with the things that won’t be making the move—it can be a significant source of help. Offer to call charity pick-up services or haul bags of donation items directly to an organization yourself. Taking over the logistics of selling items could be an extraordinary act of friendship—taking pictures, listing the items on Craigslist or local swap boards, and handling the haggling and other purchase-related business.
4. Provide childcare
Moving is one of life’s most stressful events, and for families with children, keeping little ones out from underfoot is an added source of stress. It’s no less stressful for children to see all of their belongings being swallowed up by boxes.
Photo by Poi Photography
Taking your friend’s children for a few hours can be such a relief for everyone. I was amazed at how much I got done while Courtney and a few of my other friends kept our younger daughter. As most any parent can tell you, extending kindness to our children is one of the highest and most endearing forms of friendship!
5. Bring food
At the end of a long day of packing, the “what’s for dinner?” question is even more ominous than usual. And once the kitchen has been packed, families preparing to move often turn to fast food, which can get really old, really quickly.
We all know that food speaks love to our physical and emotional beings. Offer to drop off dinner for a family that’s moving, complete with disposable plates, utensils, and napkins. Or better yet, offer them an oasis from the chaos of boxes by inviting them over for dinner in the days before the big move!
6. Give practical gifts
Many of us enjoy sending off friends with sweet tokens of remembrance as they begin a new chapter in life. Those gifts are dearly appreciated, but something especially treasured are the practical gifts we’ve been given during moves.
Gift cards are a fantastic way to send well-wishes to a friend who is moving. Consider giving a gift card to a restaurant to take the cooking pressure off, until the kitchen is unpacked and functional. Gift cards or certificates to home decorating stores are a thoughtful way to send a housewarming gift before the moving van pulls away, and though it’s not quite as charming, a gift card to a store like Target can be an incredibly helpful way to help a friend set up the new household.
7. Celebrate and support
Photo by Wiertz Sebastien
Moving is a part of life associated with big feelings. Some moves originate in happy changes, but sometimes a move is associated with an unhappy or unwanted life change. Regardless whether the move is a happy or sad one, a community of support to step in and smooth out the stress is a priceless gift.
If you would like to plan a send-off for a friend who is moving, carefully consider what would best fit the circumstances. A large party full of members of the community, or a simple cook-out with a handful of close friends? Or something in-between?
Whatever the circumstance, make sure to take the time to shower your friend with positive energy and tangible support. There is no doubt your efforts will be fondly remembered.
Have you moved recently or helped a friend to move? What would you add to this list of ways to help in the midst of moving chaos?