There are times in all our lives where we ask a family member (or a family member asks us) for help. Sometimes it's something small, other times it's a bigger need that we can't or they can't handle alone. Moving can a be a huge one. I don't mean those times when you are helping a friend on moving day, carrying things in their new place and having a pizza party at the end of the day, I am talking about helping someone with all the before stuff that has to be done when someone you love is moving--and the after things as well. It takes a lot more of your time and energy than physically just helping carry stuff in someone's place. Here are a few things you can do that will really be beneficial to the one you are helping move and help you prepare for the task, as well.
Help Find an Agent - When my husband's father passed away unexpectedly 5 years ago, my mother-in-law was left with a house full of stuff in a community she had not even lived in a year yet. It was devastating to all of our family, but also so overwhelming for her to have to figure what all was going to happen next. She decided to move back to where "home" had always been for her, so putting her house on the market was what she decided would be best for her. Fortunately, her grandson is a Realtor and it wasn't a huge task for us to find an agent to help. But, you may find when a family member is in an overwhelmed state, that they may need some guidance from someone they trust. That person may be you. Helping them interview and find the right agent might just be the best thing you can do for them first.
Help Go Through Stuff - The next thing you may have to tackle is helping your family member sort through their things in order to get ready to move. This can be a hard task, especially if you have had a death occur or an ailing parent that needs your help as they sell their family home opting for something smaller and more manageable such as an assisted living facility. The trauma of whatever event or situation that has happened that is forcing this move may be so great, that dealing with all the things they have accumulated might be an insurmountable task without your help. I had this happen to me on a smaller scale. When we sold the home I raised my kids in, there were years of things in that house that I hadn't dealt with since my mother had passed and going through her things, my things...kids things... well, I just didn't think I could do it. I had trouble getting rid of things without bursting into tears! Thankfully my grown kids helped push me when I needed it and hug me when I needed that too. I resisted at first when they pushed to throw some stuff away, but, after it was all done I was so thankful (and still am years later!) for all their help.
Help Organize a Sale - Another task that your family member may need help with planning a sale. When you help a family member go through things, you will have things to keep, things to throw away and a bunch of stuff to sell or donate at times. It's hard enough to go through things, but, to just donate or throw away items can be difficult too. Having a yard sale or auction may be just the thing they would like to have, not only so they can recover some value from the things they love, but because it shows your family member your respect for their feelings about their belongings. Helping find an auction company, labeling items with prices and tags, finding tables to display things for the sale, advertising the sale and being there with them on the big day are all things you may need to do for and with them. Trying to plan a big event (like a sale) is difficult when you are already dealing with all sorts of change in your life. Even if it is change for you, too, it's their home and personal belongings they are having to manage. Together you can get it done and make it work.
Help Pack & Move - The sale is over. You have helped them haul off the remainder of things that they don't want and now, the move is getting closer. It's time for them to pack up what is left. Packing is a horrible job. I have done it so many times and no matter how much more efficient I have gotten at it, I still hate it with a passion. It's boring, exhausting and even mentally challenging because unless you pack everything and move in the same day, you have to strategically pack so that you don't pack something away you will need in the next week or two before you get unpacked again! This can leave open boxes everywhere at times or lead to boxes that have so much diverse stuff in it that it is confusing when you UN-pack! So, when you help them pack, help mark the boxes accordingly. Help them make content lists, or take pictures of what is going in the box. Anything that will help make the task less time consuming and less confusing for when they get to their desired destination. Also, you may need to help decide how they will be getting things actually moved. When my mother and my family decided to get a home and all move in together, my husband and I did most of the moving ourselves as far as our things went. It was just across our little town for us and we just made several trips. When it came time to move my mother in, we hired movers. It was amazing! They got all her furniture ready and even set it up when it was in the new house! Mom had most everything in order in her space that same day! This was not only wonderful for me, but for her especially. She could feel "at home" right off the bat--just what she needed. Logistics of how to get stuff from place A to place B can be terrifying for a family member who is alone especially. Let them know they aren't alone, because you are going to help them figure it out!
Help Clean - Cleaning needs to be done in the home they are leaving and may (depending on where they are going) need to be done in their new place. Make sure you plan to help with that or set up someone to come and clean for them ahead of time. It's a nice touch that helps your family member feel that you have covered every facet of what has needed to be done. Their home may be rough from years of neglect, but to them, it was their castle. Let them know you are going to do your best to see that it is taken care of in the end.
Help Get New Place in Order - You have helped your family member every step of the way during this move and they are in their new place. This is where the little extra care and love can be given. Help them to unpack, so they can feel at home right away. However, listen to them because they may need some help with some things, but, they may not know where all they want some of their other things just yet, so, make sure they know that your helping skills are still available for times in the future and be sure you keep reminding them of that! Do what you can to make their new place feel as much like "home" for them as you can. This can help their transition go so much more smoothly.
As your family member settles in to their new place, take them out for dinner or bring it in every so often. Stop in for frequent visits. Remember, they have just spent all kinds of time with you and it will be an adjustment for them to be on their own again. They may feel relief at first, but, just be sure to be thoughtful about the changes they have gone through and what that means for them. In some cases, this may be the most time you have spent with them in a while. Going through a difficult process together has a way of bonding you and they need to know that you love them no matter what. Because, after all, that is the main reason you helped them in the first place, isn't it?!
Until Next Time!
Jen Lush--Associate Broker and Self Proclaimed Moving Expert Photo Credit: Erda Estremera