“I don’t know how you do it” is the usual comment I get when people hear my husband and I have moved 28 times in our 34 years of marriage. It is certainly not for everyone, but if you have chosen a life partner who has sworn to serve their country, it comes with obligation and expectation. My man is military. He is disciplined, determined, a leader of leaders, wise, thoughtful and a decision maker. Ok, so he is sexy in his white uniform, taking command on a ship, but that is not why I married him. I married a man who is made for and called to military service.
Like every marriage, you don’t enter it with a plan to change the person you are marrying. You love them for who they are and go with them through the highs and lows of life, ‘for better or for worse’. Sadly, for many who marry into the military, they just can’t do it and the marriage breaks down. But for me, I made a clear decision to see opportunity in every post, do it with joy, and flourish. Looking back, I can honestly say there are no regrets and my life has been more prosperous and full than many of my peers.
So what is the nomadic life like? The benefits of moving every couple of years are easy. You meet new people, live and experience new cultures, travel the world, become knowledgeable firsthand in all levels of politics, faiths, thinking and ways of doing things. You become adaptable, strong, understanding, and patient. You make many friends, learn to declutter, become décor queen of ugly houses, learn to eat all kinds of food and fix all kinds of problems. You become more than a conqueror.
Nevertheless, the difficulties are just as many, especially with children. Foundations are built on routine, and this allows you to stretch your capacity. With every move, all routines and foundations are new, so it’s easy to feel incompetent. Your capacity to take things on will be low. Just a routine grocery shop can be an ordeal; not knowing where to park, where items are located, what prices are good – and if you are in a new country – well, the shopping alone can take months to master. No friends to help, new ovens to conquer, new teachers to woo, kid’s parties to impress with, new friends to make (huge on every level), new hairdressers to trust and a new you to create. With every move, you have to re-create yourself, your family, your home, your priorities, and lifestyle. It is not easy. In this blog series, I will cover how I have managed many of these areas.
For now, here are my top three tips for moving:
1. Keep your inventory up-to-date.
Every new purchase, add it immediately so the list is kept current.
2. Get the floor plan of the new house.
Rearrange furniture and other items into their destination room before you move. For example, you may like the study shelves here to go into a kids room there: so move them into the kids room here. This way, when the removalist tags them, they will be unpacked into the room you want them in. This saves a lot of supervision at the other end.
3. Have the removalists unpack everything before they leave.
Even if this means odd items are left scattered around the floor! This forces you put everything away and completely move in. It is so easy to leave things in boxes for months. However, living with boxes is not making it home; it is temporary living. Get unpacked quickly so you can focus on building a life. Your objective is to make each house a home. I learned that if you don’t, it’s like living your life in limbo, which is not healthy for anyone in your family.