My Moving Advice? Have a Cup of Tea (or 10…)​

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For Alanna Shevak, the moving process was particularly overwhelming as a lot of things went wrong. Read on as she shares her moving advice.

Alanna Shevak and her family were ready to embark on their move from Seattle to New Jersey and, even, a smashed windshield, anxious family pets and a few nights camping out on air mattresses couldn’t stop them! Here’s what Alanna learned along the way…and why a cup of tea is much-needed when you’re making a massive move…

Everyone knows how stressful, exhausting, and generally overwhelming moving can be. Even though this is our family’s seventhhome, moving never gets any easier. In fact, I think it gets harder as we get older and accumulate more stuff, more children, and more animals!

In our move from Seattle to Ridgewood, New Jersey, we agonized over the logistics. We had to consider how to move our belongings, cars, cats, and of course, ourselves. As a self-diagnosed control freak perfectionist I do not like to make mistakes or to feel like I could’ve done something better, so I found all of the moving-related decisions quite stressful.

For all of our belongings, I knew a good moving company would be critical to keep what little sanity I had left. Hoping to avoid a cross-country horror story, I did a lot of research, utilized recommendations from local Facebook groups, and referenced the Better Business Bureau website. I chose a local family-owned company who had been in business in the Seattle area for over 50 years. When I called the offices I could tell it was not a call center and the employees were a team who worked well together to provide the services and support we needed. My moving liaison emailed and called me regularly to check in, see how I was doing, and to make sure I didn’t have any new questions about the move. She also kept me informed of the progress the moving truck was making as it traveled from Washington to New Jersey.

But despite all of my meticulous planning, moving is a lot like a wedding—something always goes wrong. My Murphy’s Law moment? A large rock hit my windshield leaving a huge chip and crack two days before my car was scheduled to be shipped across the country. I needed to get the entire windshield replaced before the shipping company would allow my car on the transport. It was during those moments that I had to keep strong and keep it together. I kept telling myself to that, once safely in New Jersey, I could fall apart if need be—but not now.

Then there were the cats—moving them turned out to be even more of an ordeal than the cars! After reading about how traumatic it can be for animals to be shipped in the cargo hold, we decided that the best thing for the cats would be to keep them with us on the airplane. Our youngest cat is pretty high strung so we bought a calming “Thunder Shirt” for her to wear and clipped her nails so she could not claw out of her carrier. Our vet had also kindly prescribed them both “cat valium.” Along with their health certificates and vaccine history, I had to carry plastic bags in my hand luggage in case they had any accidents during the long journey. It was like traveling with a baby again – except this time most of my hand luggage was filled with cat supplies! The most stressful part of the journey was trying to get through airport security with two cats, two kids, two laptops and four backpacks, plus an American Girl doll who came complete with her own carrier (a new “friend” for my daughter to help soften the blow of moving away from our friends). Animals cannot go through the security-screening machine so we had to take the cats out of their carriers and hold them as we walked through the metal detector. Our cats are not generally calm and this time was no exception—they were pretty intent on escaping our clutches despite their drugged state. For a reason known only to the TSA, after we passed through the metal detector, my husband and I were directed to step to the side and wait with the clawing cats in our arms. The whole time we were clinging onto them and praying the kids were getting the rest of our stuff onto the conveyor belt and through the machine. Once the TSA released us, we focused on stuffing the struggling cats back into their carriers. After we made it through security, I felt like we had survived the biggest battle in this crazy moving war.

Now onto the final part: moving us.

We had purchased a new home in Ridgewood and my husband had been camping there with a few supplies we had shipped ahead. Knowing the “stuff” would not arrive before we did, we sent air mattresses, bedding, and some basic kitchen supplies so that we could live in the house. As a native Brit I also made sure to pack everything I would need to make a proper cup of tea. A cup of tea will soothe all your troubles if you’re English and I had a feeling that adjusting to living in New Jersey was going to require a lot of tea!

So, we finally made it to our new home in Ridgewood, NJ at about 1:00am after a long and stressful day of traveling. We were exhausted, but we had made it. And just as with moving, when you buy a new house something always goes wrong. As we walked into our new home, we discovered the air conditioning had broken, there was a leak under the sink, and there were large ants (lots and lots of large ants) but we had made it. This was all just part of the “journey” that is life. Now, all that was left to do was have a big cup of tea.