Sara DimermanEight years ago, when Lily and Chris moved from Ontario to Alberta, they swore they'd never move again. Things have changed. Their family has grown to include two kids, two cats and a gerbil and their house is bursting at the seams. Next month they'll move again this time from one side of Calgary to the other. Despite the shorter trek, they know that any move takes planning. They've checked out their sources carefully, made their choice of movers and even planned to get rid of some of their excess baggage. Sharon and Leon, another Ontario couple, made their move last week. Although they had gotten rid of as many clutter as possible before their move, Sharon commented that "it just wasn't enough." She believes that we live in a society where we buy much more than we need and then never use it. "I'd advise any person who is moving to really sort through their contents and get rid of as much as possible."
Michael Liepner, President of The Next Move, in Toronto, Ontario, can help. Liepner, teacher, Head of the Business Department at Thornlea Secondary School in Thornhill, Ontario and renowned author of six McGraw Hill published textbooks including "The Entrepreneurial Spirit", really practises what he preaches. He's able to liven up his lectures by bringing real life experience into the classroom. Four years ago, Liepner turned his hobby into a successful business. He makes it his business to reduce your moving stress. He suggests that when packing, you put all the used or unwanted items to the side and forget about them. Ideally, his job begins when all those wanted items are already moved so that only the unwanted items are left behind. Although Liepner deals mainly with large estate and contents sales, he's available to offer free consultations to people interested in using his service as an alternative to selling the items themselves. "Often, families are resizing, a couple may be moving from a house to a condominium, or two families may be blending into one," he says.
Prior to the move, Liepner will meet with you in your home to appraise the value of your contents so that he can ascertain how worthwhile his services will be for everyone. The percentage that he retains from the sales is based on the dollar value of the contents. Liepner takes great pride in organizing and arranging the contents so that they present well. "Dusty drinking glasses may get 10c," he says, but sparkling "washed glasses can get much more." Mood and presentation are essential, he says. The price of each item is mutually pre determined and Liepner provides as much staff as necessary to ensure the smooth running of a sale which can see as many as 500 people in one day. All advertising, promotion and signage is assumed by Liepner. Liepner says that most people feel a great sense of relief at being able to walk away from their home knowing that the remaining items will be taken care of. "It's quite disconcerting, " he says, "to see people coming through your home and debating the worth of something of sentimental value for you. We have no emotional attachment and therefore can work much more easily on your behalf." Liepner guarantees the removal of all unsold items to places of your choice. He believes that a clear house means a clear head.
And with this worry behind you, you need to be able to rely on a reputable moving company to move all the items you have decided to hold on to. Stephen Magder, President and co-owner of Phillips Moving and Storage in Toronto, Ontario, provides prospective customers with a list of helpful hints to make a move less stressful. He and co-owner, Don Staddon, have operated as northAmerican Van Lines agents for the past 23 years. Like Liepner, Magder believes in "paring down well in advance." When it comes time to pack, he offers these helpful tips "purchase boxes from a mover or supply house as opposed to picking boxes up at the local grocery store. Standard sized boxes are easier to move and can cut up to two hours off the moving time" he says. Other than the size and durability, Magder says that there are often tiny bugs, not visible to the naked eye, in the boxes. "Once they get into your contents," he says, "and you can get an infestation of bugs." And talking of bugs, Magder strongly suggests that you not take any wood, outdoor wooden furniture such as picnic tables or other items left outside for a long time, with you. Outdoor bugs and earwigs live on these items and may also get into your contents when loaded on the moving truck.
Magder reminds customers to defrost and clean out fridges and freezers the day before moving. If a freezer, for example, is unplugged and placed directly into the truck on a hot day, the drastic change in temperature can cause a crack in the freezer. Another hazard from either fridges or freezers is leaking if not adequately defrosted and cleaned out.
When moving computers, try to pack the components into their original boxes so that they are firmly packed. If the original boxes are not available, make sure that there is lots of additional packing paper to prevent jarring. Also, read through the manual to make sure that the computer is properly "parked" and put disks into the hard drive to secure the equipment.
Magder suggests asking the movers to lay floor runners on the floor of the home you are moving into. Since the men will not remove their footwear, this helps to maintain often recently cleaned carpets. He also suggests these runners be draped over the indoor railings so that they don't get nicked.
When picking a moving date, you might want to "consider a move at the beginning of the week or towards the end of the first week of a new month when the men have their highest level of energy." An interesting phenomenon that he has noted is in regards to moving at the end of the month. Since most people have been advised to stay away from this time when moving companies are supposedly at their busiest and ask their highest rates, most people are booking their moves a few days before the end of the month. "Oddly, we are not being booked out at the end of the month, but more around the 25th!!"
Although many customers ask about being quoted a flat rate, Magder does not. He says that companies that offer a flat rate are usually paying their employees for a certain number of hours related to this rate. As a result, the movers may rush through the move to meet a time frame and may incur damages well beyond the cost of savings. Although he ensures a expedient, efficient move, he does not want his employees to move beyond their point of comfort.
Magder suggests that when handed a piece of paper as a way of signing off the move and verifying the safe transition of your contents, that you write "subject to inspection" on the piece of paper. That way, if you notice damage to your contents when unpacking, you can contact the moving company to discuss the matter.
Finally, Magder suggests that its best to not have kids and pets around on moving day. He says that this really slows the job down.
For those parents who want their children to be a part of the move, you might consider having them present at the beginning and end of the move. The stuff in between can be very tiring. Dr. Pamela Paris, a Psychologist in North York, Ontario, suggests that children of different ages will respond differently to a move. Older children may be more attached to the house and its contents, while very young children will be happy to be wherever mom and dad are. Dr. Paris suggests to "take the lead of your child. A lot of parents may anticipate that the move will be very traumatic for their child when it may not be that way at all." Some children may be very excited and others may take the move in stride.
Some children will express their anxiety about the move in non verbal ways. "They may become more clingy, have more temper tantrums or be teary for no apparent reason," she says. "This may indicate that they are feeling internally unsettled." Some children may show their anxiety through questions that "show an intensified attachment to objects." For example, a child may ask, "am I going to take my carpet and wallpaper?" or "am I going to take all my dolls?" Dr. Paris suggests that a parent should answer honestly. "You may want to acknowledge your child's feelings," she says by sharing your own feelings of ambivalent excitement and loss. However, "don't focus on the trauma" she says "or be falsely positive as in everything will be just wonderful!!"
When a child asks about the carpet and wallpaper, for example, be honest. Most likely you will not be taking these with you. "Don't go overboard" she says as in offering to put the exact same carpet and wallpaper in the new house. "This is a typical life transition and an opportunity for your child to experience change in a positive and supportive context. Don't feel that you need to reconstruct the environment because you believe that your child will not be able to manage unless there is absolute consistency."
Dr. Paris believes that a child should move to a school in their new neighbourhood to meet and make new friends. "Introduce the child gradually to the new school prior to the first day and accept a period of change. Keep in mind that the old friends are very important to your child and reassure him or her about the continuity of the relationships if at all possible," she says.
Dr. Paris says that while moves are high up on the stress scale for adults, they need not be for kids. "Don't project your feelings onto the kids" she says. "Introduce them to change ad expect that they will cope and be resilient. Don't coddle them and anticipate failure. Anticipate success."
© Sara Dimerman B.A.A., Dip.C.S., all rights reserved