Friday, 19 June 2009

Moving home - stressful?

I learnt today on Woman's Hour that Andy Murray has moved house this week, just ahead of Wimbledon.

Moving house is supposed to be up there in the top three or four most stressful events in one's life - together with death, divorce and the birth of a child. Thankfully it is a long time since a truly close member of my family died (my grandmother insists on keeping going, now into her 96th year!), I have not come vaguely close to divorce and I am rapidly forgetting those first traumatic years with young children.

But moving house? Something of an expert. This most recent move was the third in two years (the first of those being back to the UK from Zambia: international moves should have added weight in the stress-scale); my son goes to school boasting that this is the seventh house he's lived in - not bad, at eight years old. In honesty, his younger sister has lived in the same number!

So is it stressful? You bet! Planning the move takes months. Changing addresses is tedious (I know: we have barely started the list). And each time there is vast expense: not just for the removal company and house purchase/rental costs, but those additional bits and pieces that you just cannot live without or go missing en route.

For example, we have had to buy about another 7m of shelving for our books and belongings. We have bought quickly and cheaply (we had to unpack onto something) but will be cursing when we do the house up and plan better fitting storage space. We need a wardrobe, but are arguing over the value of buying one when we will be having a fitted wardrobe in the revised extension. Meanwhile our clothes still hang in the cardboard removal boxes.

Kirstie Allsopp stated on the radio that three moves is the equivalent of a fire. In other words, move house three times and you won't have what you started with (either from loss or destruction). We have done better than a complete inferno, although I have lost a beautiful hand-painted picture of a Chinese river scene, now under water due to the building of the Three Gorges Dam, which my father brought back from a holiday. And we have lost some important certificates - carefully kept together so we knew where they were, now we certainly know they are all lost. Picture frames have got chipped and scuffed, books have got crumpled, toys have lost important pieces. The cost of moving is high.

And all this is practical stress. This is nothing to the emotional stress of losing good friends (inevitably you keep in touch with some and lose contact forever with others, and you cannot predict who will fall into each category); nor to the exhausting process of making new ones. It is hard to go through the same small-talk again and again, hoping that this person may be the lifelong buddy that you need. It is hard to find baby sitters to trust when moving to a new place. It is difficult to break into existing social groups - not least Mums at the School Gate, but that is another blog entirely.

So I hope that Andy Murray is able to refocus for Wimbledon. No doubt he has the finance to have a lot more support around him than I have, but I wonder if he'll be dashing off to B&Q after every match in order to fix the house up. Somehow I doubt it!

4 comments:

The Dotterel said...

Sounds like the perfect way to unwind after a stressful day on Centre Court. Not!

cheshire wife said...

I hate to tell you this, but I think that you will find, that when you begin building work on the house, that the stress of moving will pale into insignificance. I wish you luck.

Catharine Withenay said...

Dotterel - I guess we'll see how he copes this afternoon!

CW - ssshhh!!! leave me in blissful ignorance for a little longer - please?!

Working Mum said...

I've only moved once since being married, but it entailed putting all our worldy possessions into storage for six months while we lived with only essentials in two rooms. Being without bathrooms for three weeks and a kitchen for four months were also pretty stressful. (I will blog about it all when it's all over). I won't be doing it again!

Hope you get some semblence of order soon!

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