Some say that moving house is one of life’s major stresses. Anyone who’s undertaken a house move will agree it’s one of the most challenging events we experience, both physically and emotionally. A lot of us find it stressful because it involves change and represents a transition in life – and with it comes unfamiliarity. Most of us, me included, like familiarity, routine and order, but when we are moving house, for a while at least, we have none of those. Depending on your age and your stage in life, you might be in a new area, having to find new schools for your children, take on a new commute to work and find a new doctor. Often too, when you move into a new house, it’s the simple things you miss, like knowing exactly where the light switch is in the dark, and where your personal mementos are stored.
Although moving can be exciting and you can embrace the thoughts of new beginnings, it is good to think about the mental impact moving will have on you. If you can clear your schedule a little way in advance and take some time off for preparation, this will help the actual moving day feel less overwhelming and give you a bit more control of your situation. If you provide ample time to pack and find removal firms, this will greatly remove stress. Clearing out clutter well before you move will help you let go and prepare for the future. Make sure too, if you can, to get your family members and good friends to lend a helping hand. This will lessen the burden on you and also give you a chance to spend time together before moving.
It is a good idea to have a few rituals before moving; maybe have a small leaving party, take a few walks around your favourite routes and allow time for special memories – this can help the transition from your old home to your new one.
This is a busy time and it is easy to neglect your diet. Being well-rested and having good nutrition is vital to good health and helps to keep stress levels down.
My own route to where I live now has been a long and sometimes winding road, and there are more moves ahead. For someone who’s home and surroundings are one of the most important things in life, moving several times over the last few years has been unsettling and at times traumatic. Several times I have had to pack and unpack my treasured and various possessions, some of which have become more battered and forlorn which each and every move. But with my footsteps echoing in a bare and empty room, when I start unwrapping a well-loved piece of china or some favourite photographs, or even a cosy blanket, the look and feel of those familiar things never fail to bring immediate comfort. As my home has scaled down in size progressively with each and every move, my belongings have had to be pared down accordingly, but some precious things remain, like the beautiful wooden chest decorated with painted birds that our elder son gave us some years ago, and a small chalkboard, carefully varnished over to preserve the cheerful pictures our younger son drew for me when he was little.
It is good to remember that we are only custodians of any house we live in. It’s as though the character of the house leaves with our possessions, and as we take that last look around, the feeling of familiarity is gone and all that remains is the echo of the voices of the inhabitants who once lived there, and the feeling that all the familiarity of home is gone. The house already feels as though it preparing for its new owners. Yet, if you ever have reason to drive down the same path again it would feel quite normal to step inside and feel you have never been away. One thing I have learned is that life has twists and turns and we end up in unexpected places. But once we make our mark on a new house, wherever it is, it turns into home. Home is where hearts are sure of each other; a place where you know your way in the dark.
As we enjoy the summer with all its outdoor pleasures, the cosiness and warmth of home is still important; we take comfort in a shady spot under a tree in the garden, closing the shutters or the blinds at the end of the day as the sun sets or sharing a simple supper around the kitchen table. And for that we all need that special place: a place to rest, recharge our batteries and sometimes retreat from the outside world for a while. Whether we are a large family or just one person, our home reveals in all its artefacts (those precious keepsakes, and the everyday and ordinary and extraordinary things that surround us), the story of us, and of who we are. We may think that style and inventiveness, as well as hard work and money, are what is needed to transform a house or an apartment, and it’s true, those things help create the space we yearn for. But what really matters is that we creat a place of security, a place of love and warmth, where children and grandchildren can grow and turn to, especially when the outside world seems to be creating stresses and strains.
The place we call home needs to keep peace within its boundaries, welcome within its walls, shelter for its friends, and a cake in the larder.
So when you feel unsettled, have to move house or change your surroundings for whatever reason, remember that home is where you and your loved ones are – it is not dependent on fancy fixtures and fittings, palaces and mansions, but on you and the people you love, and in the cosy place where you gather together.
‘And a single small cottage,
A nest like a dove’s,
The only dwelling on earth that she loves’.
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
The House We Left Behind
The removal van is on its way, I hear it rattling up the lane,
The time is fast approaching for us to be moving on again.
Before I’m even ready, the men are standing in the hall
Examining the packing cases stacked up by the wall.
And as all of our possessions disappear from view
The old house turns its back on us and waits for someone new.
(C) Lyn Halvorsen