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Help! We're Moving & Driving Each Other Crazy!

Help! We’re Moving & Driving Each Other Crazy!

By Amalah

Hi Amy,

My husband and I have two kids, ages 2 and 4 months. Next month we’re moving an hour away to be closer to his parents and his job. Since you’re about to be going through the same thing I thought you might have some insight into how to go about this process.

I’m all about planning and working diligently over the next month to pack things up we don’t use much and organize so that when the day comes all we really need to do is load up our stuff and go. My 2 year old is having a ball helping me pack a box a day and is super excited to go to his new house with a playground in the backyard. And really, the kids take up a lot of time so if I leave packing to the last minute we’ll be way in over our heads.

I’m having some disagreements with my husband over the best way to go about the move. Hubby is taking a more loosey goosey, go-with-the-flow approach. As in, I’ll pack the week before no don’t box up my winter shoes I’ll do it myself approach. He even had to be talked into renting a U-Haul truck so that we’d only have to take one trip. He and his dad thought it would be ok to use a smaller borrowed trailer and take as many trips over as many days and weekends as we needed.

Last night when talking about the aforementioned shoes packing, I got upset with him. I told him that I wasn’t going to spend whole days and nights watching the kids while he packed at the last minute. I don’t think he’s grasping how stressful it will be to have the kids in limbo for an unknown length of time. I want to load our stuff once, unload it once, and work on getting everything in order so the kids (and us!) are settled as quickly as possible.

He eventually relented to letting me box up the shoes. No word yet on if I can tackle anything else that is his but for now I’ll be content to do mine and the kids’ things. (I stay at home so really I’m happy to do it so it makes life easier.)

Husband has already mentioned that my planning when we move stresses him out. I think I come across as frazzled and excitable when this happens but it makes me feel better and helps me sleep at night knowing that I’m chipping away at the mountain of work ahead of me in a detailed way.

So my question is: how do I go about helping my husband let go a little in this moving process. He works full time with an hour long commute, and takes care of the finances and the yard work on over an acre of land. He NEEDS me to take charge in this process but I think living with boxes around for a month and not being able to organize it all himself makes him crazy.

Thanks for all your help!
Up in Limbo

(Lots of moving questions rolling in. I wonder why, because over on my blog I am pretty sure I’ve only demonstrated that I am a HOT MESS and should NOT BE CONSULTED about anything moving related unless it’s how to likewise be a HOT MESS.)

So you and your husband sound super similar to me and my husband! Are you us? Are you wearing us like skinsuits? Because my husband also had it in his head at some point that we were going to handle the entire move by ourselves. Even though he has a bad back and I am a puny weakling and we have approximately 11,000 pounds of stuff in our home. (And that’s NOT an exaggeration. That came from an estimate from a professional packing and moving company, who I FINALLY managed to convince my husband to contact because DUDE. DUUUUUUUDE. Our move out and into the new house has to happen on the same day, and that day is hurtling towards us rapidly.)

So you guys have different approaches to this, and you’re clashing because 1) duh, moving is stressy-stress stressful, and 2) your different approaches are each making the OTHER PERSON more stressed out, ouroboros style. The more he insists that his last-minute, DIY approach is the right one, the more you panic because you’re convinced that your planning-to-plan, let’s get stuff done ahead of time approach is better. He thinks you’re control freaking/micromanaging, you think he’s being an idiot, there’s so much to do plus kids for the love of God let me pack up some crap for you already!

What we need here is a good old-fashioned compromise. While he’s at work, you run things at home. You pack things, including his things. You are capable of knowing what not to pack (stuff he needs over the next few weeks), and will label anything you pack appropriately for easy location just in case. By allowing you to do this, he will also solve the problem of you “stressing him out” because the more you chip away at the packing process, the better/calmer you will feel. (HELLO I AM YOU. I KNOW HOW THIS STUFF WORKS.)

When he’s at home, you will refrain from nagging/bugging. Channel the frazzled/excited energy into the hours when he’s not there, and try to make sure you guys are having conversations about things OTHER than the move. It can get all-encompassing, I know. But the rest of life is happening around it, and needs attention and love as well.

As for the actual move itself, I gotta admit if we could have done the several-small-trips-over-a-few-weekends, we would have. Definitely cheaper, although yeah, it prolongs the period of feeling unsettled. I don’t think it’s The Worst Thing, though, especially given how young your kids are. They’ll be okay, since it’s more about you guys being there and remaining a constant than whether or not you moved the dining table out already. That might be your area of compromise, with an agreement to revisit the idea of a One And Done truck rental if it seems to be stressing the kids out too much. (And promise that it really will be about the kids, and not you.)

But take heart! Eventually even my super stubborn husband woke up to our reality: We have to do it in one day, we HAVE to hire movers for our furniture, and honestly, we probably need to shell out some money to have packers come the day before to pack all the crap we won’t have time to get to. Yeah, it sucks. I’d rather use that money on new furniture or something! But having the packers as a last-minute fallback means I won’t drive us both insane by trying to pack up ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW YOU PACK TOO DO IT DO IT while my husband procrastinates, and also I can cut myself a break on having the entire move/packing process on my shoulders while trying to work and care for the kids.

Take a deep breath. Compromise fairly and calmly. And tell him that some person on the Internet gave you permission to pack up his stuff while he’s at work, because come on, man.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Lindsay

    August 3, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    I don’t have anything incredibly useful to add here, but just wanted to mention that it seems you are also me! And your husband is also my husband! Or something? In a sort of similar (but should have been way easier!) scenario we had recently, I had a full on anxiety attack (my first. ugggh!) eventually when he was not helping me over-prepare for a trip we were taking. So I just wanted to throw out there that you should NOT be like me. If you catch yourself going into that territory, let your husband know. I think I was trying TOO hard to compromise and didn’t warn my (wonderful! understanding!) husband that I really NEEDED him to go with things my way for a while.

  • Lydia

    August 3, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Oh man, packing takes WAY more time and BOXES than you ever think possible.  I’d look at a bookshelf, pull out two good sized boxes and think “these will be more than enough for that stuff” and 30 minutes later both boxes were full and the bookshelf was still 3/4 full of stuff.  Packing early is also key to getting RID of stuff.  All those trips to goodwill or the dump take time. 

    We moved my husband two blocks once (before we got married).  We figured it’d be super easy to do with a large pick up truck and many back and forths.  It was SO ANNOYING.  Like your bookcase and boxes, the truck fills up faster than you can imagine.  All the time spent going back and forth (TWO BLOCKS) and parking and re-parking felt like wasted time.  It took FOREVER to get it all done.  Think of the time it will take to drive an hour there and an hour back with smalls car loads of stuff.  3 trips could take ALL DAY and maybe it’d be 10% of your stuff.  Hiring movers means 100% of your stuff gets there in one day.

    So yeah.  I’m on team Pack Now and Hire Movers.

    Good luck!!

  • Becky

    August 3, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Maybe it is a husband thing as mine was JUST THE SAME (no, we CANt use plastic carrier bags!! We need boxes!!!). Totally. I totally agree wih packing up his completely unused stuff while he is at work (HE WONT NEED IT. Come on dude) and don’t inundate him with details about what you have packed. Just quietly get on with it. He doesn’t need to know and he is clearly choosing a mountain to die on in reaction to the stress Of moving.

    Also, we found moving all the packed boxes into one little-used room (the study, in our case) meant that the house was clear of boxes and my husband hardly noticed I had been packing like a maniac. It was a good compromise for us and kept the prolonged moving time a little less move-y.

  • Sarah

    August 3, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Oh god moving. Hire movers, do not wait until the last minute, pack and purge start now. We had to be out of our house a day or two before we could be in the new one so I rented a monsterous Uhaul, hired a crew to load it up. Couple days later I drove it to the new house and the crew came back to unload it. What did I learn? If you don’t drink martinis, get rid of your martini glasses. Seriously, I have carefully wrapped, packed, moved, and unpacked those damn things twice in 11 years and we have never ever had martinis. Anything worth drinking can be consumed out of Mason jars.

  • A.L

    August 3, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    This was totally us too! Why are husbands so weird about moving?

    We also had to compromise so we didn’t wind up killing each other. I stayed at home with our 11 month old and packed up everything in my own time. I packed the stuff I knew we didn’t need first, of course, and didn’t bother him with the details of what I was packing or when. I then deposited each box into our sun room (the most unused room in the house). I even brought out small pieces of nonessential furniture, pictures, potted plants, etc. Having all the stuff packed and stacked in one place made him realize that perhaps moving ourselves would not be as easy as he originally thought. So he was on board when I scheduled a moving container to be delivered to our house.

    Everything from there on was his responsibility. He was free to pack that container whenever he felt it was necessary. And it was his responsibility to arrange whatever help he needed to load up that container because at 6 months pregnant I was not about to help in any fashion. And no, he didn’t hire any movers, and yes, he waited till the last day to start loading. He wound up finishing at 3:00 in the morning (only 5 hours before the moving company came to pick it up). But I got a great night’s sleep that night because my job was done, and it was not my concern that he was still out there loading up.

    Dividing the responsibility really helped us work together with very different philosophies. I took control of my part and let everything else go. And he got to do things his way without (much) nagging from my end.

  • Nicole

    August 3, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    It sounds like you have some overlap time? Perhaps you and your husband can decide which things each of you is responsible to pack, and if he doesn’t pack his stuff before the big move day, then well, he’ll just have to finish it after. We recently moved (with a 15 month old and 4 year old) and I started packing several months in advance, knowing I could only do a few boxes each day. My husband was responsible for his clothes and his stuff in the basement: Music gear, video games, and random junk he can’t seem to part with. He waited until the last week and had to just start throwing things in boxes the last day. His things all made the move. It’s not my problem now if he can’t find things because his packing method was so disorganized. I think you will find your hands are full enough trying to settle into your new home with two little ones, without worrying about his shoes.
    Good luck!

  • leslie

    August 3, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Interesting fact: It’s not just husbands that are like this. In our house, the situation is reversed. My husband is the crazy planner/pack five million years before we move/have endless conversations about “the plan” person, where I’m the “eh, it’ll come together at the end, let’s not worry too much about it”
    Interesting fact: It’s not just husbands that are like this. In our house, the situation is reversed. My husband is the crazy planner/pack five million years before we move/have endless conversations about “the plan” person, where I’m the “eh, it’ll come together at the end, let’s not worry too much about it” person. Or at least that’s how it used to be. It’s taken me many moves to see the light of his ways. We’ve moved four times during out time together, and every time he would drive me nuts with his planning, and he would be driven nuts by my lack of urgency. After four moves that were super duper stressful DESPITE his planning, I’ve finally come to realize the importance of packing early and having a plan. We are getting ready to move AGAIN in a few weeks, and I was on board with the early start this time. Granted, this move is a relocation for work, and my company is covering the cost of packers and movers, so it makes it much less stressful than moving ourselves (which we’ve done with all of our prior moves). But we’ve still done so much purging/organizing/etc. over the past couple of months that, as move day approaches, we are feeling very on top of our game and ready to go…which has never been the case before. So, I want to commend all of you moving overachievers. You are doing it right! But, I also want to sympathize with your husbands a bit and just say that our brains don’t work the same way and we aren’t trying to be difficult. We honestly do think it will all just come together at the end. And if they’re anything like me, they work better under pressure. But when it comes to moving, you just can’t go with that philosophy. After doing several moves in my life, both cross country and a matter of blocks, I second the vote to hire a truck/movers and do it all in one day. It’s worth every last penny if you are in a position to afford it. EVERY PENNY. You are moving too far to be doing it in small batches. Like someone else said, too much time wasted driving back and forth (and gas!). Also, start packing his stuff while he’s not home. I bet if you just start doing it, he won’t even notice/mind and will end up being grateful. Good luck to you. I’m so very jealous of all of you who are moving toward family. We’re moving away from family, and I can’t help feeling every day that we’re making a huge mistake!! But nothing is forever, right?? Right??

  • Allison

    August 3, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    This was us about a year ago–we moved an hour away, with a just-three-year-old and an eight month old. We did hire movers for the big stuff, but otherwise did the smaller things in bacthes (we closed two weeks before actually moving, and then were renting out our old home, so we had time). My husband really did not want to spend more than absolutely necessary on the movers, so they were very limited in what they could do.

    This was such a mistake. We went back and forth SO many times. Endless trips. I think I made three trips just on our “moving day,” and then it felt like it went on for weeks until we were done. There was just always more stuff that wouldn’t seem to fit in our cars or borrowed trucks, and we aren’t really packrats, nor did we have huge houses. Avoid this, if you can, especially with the little kids.

    Other tips:
    – As others mentioned, find a place to pile all the packed stuff. For us it was our 3rd garage; we cleared off the work bench and put all packed boxes there.
    – If you have stuff to get rid of, find a charity that does pick ups. So much easier than making even more trips with loaded cars (and possibly kids), and you can do more than one if you need to. We did this both before and after we moved (because OF COURSE we moved crap we ended up getting rid of).
    – Try to get family to watch the kids while you’re doing things like hanging TVs or assembling furniture. Our family disappeared, in spite of promises to help and having the kids underfoot made everything so much more stressful. I didn’t need them to help move. Just KEEP THE KIDS AWAY FROM THE TOOLS AND SCREWS AND HEAVY FALLING FURNITURE FOR 2 HOURS ARGGH!!

    Ahem. I may have some remaining stress. Good luck.

  • Melinda

    August 3, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Get rid of everything.purge like your life depends on it.

    Absolutely do it in one day. Get a truck and NEVER LOOK BACK.

    I have moved at least 20 times in my life (25 yrs old). At this point I’m not sure why I bother having belongings.

    You will never regret working fast and early.

  • SarahB

    August 3, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    Get estimates for packers and movers, stat. (I recommend using them!) But get the estimate and then tell him everything you do means you spend a little less than that total on packers and movers.

    And what the heck, you are getting packing down with a two year old and four month old? And he dares criticize you for it? You my friend are a freakin’ rock star and he could at least say thank you!

  • Katharine

    August 4, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Oh man get the big ass truck and take the one and done approach!!!!! I am also you and had rented a big truck but had uhaul cancel last minute and wound up with a rinky dink pickup truck. Making a million trips with a toddler and baby is hard!!!

  • K

    August 4, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    I am with so many commenters – I absolutely recommend AGAINST the million trips back and forth. It always takes longer/is so much more aggravating than you think to have to drive back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, sometimes with the kids in tow. Get it all moved with a huge truck if you can, or rent a Pod. We did the Pod and loaded up our furniture in that, purged like crazy and stored the rest of the stuff we used a large trailer for at my grandparents, which was all of 6 minutes away from our new house. But we didn’t have the trailer when we were ready to move, which meant making a million trips back and forth, literally over the distance of 2 miles, and it just felt AWFUL. We kept thinking it was the last load…and then it wasn’t. Or we’d cram some stuff in and realize I was missing like the one crucial pan or some ridiculous thing, because we did a poor job packing (because we were all “this is no big deal, we can handle unpacking over a few weeks” – wrong y’all. So wrong). Do it right the first time, don’t underestimate the amount of junk you have or what a pain it really is to unpack over days or weeks while still making trips back to the old place.

  • Shan from CO

    August 6, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    i can add anecdote plz?

    We moved when DD was just over one and had the “help” of my ILs, who had moved twice in the past 30 years, once barely even counting since they left all the crap they didn’t have time to pack in their house, which their son took over (it’s still a major source of family stress, 5+ years later). Me, on the other hand grew up moving literally every three years, not to mention lots of apartment changing as an adult.

    Anyway, we had planned for a bunch of friends to come and help us move because that’s the crowd we roll with. Lovely, wonderful people who love pizza and beer. For WEEKS I had been urging my husband and then the ILs to pack so we could be ready. I pretty much had to tend to baby and also work (DH was a teacher and NOT working). Did anything get packed? Take a wild guess.

    Moving day comes and NOW they decide to pack, with 20 people standing around or trying to help (which is totally not what they signed up for. You volunteer to help move, you are NOT signing up to pack! That’s the crap job that should already be done!). Clearly I am still ticked about this 4 years later and if your DH is giving you push back, use my story for your own advantage. Tell him divorce may have been mentioned. Embellish at will 🙂

  • Suzy Q

    August 11, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    Moving is SO stressful. I am a single person, and I don’t know how I would handle having to compromise with someone else. It took me a month to pack last time. I use movers. ALWAYS USE MOVERS if possible; they are more reliable than friends and also insured.

    I am moving upstate next May, and I am already freaking the hell out. I have been saving boxes and I want to start packing NOW! Also unfortunately, I don’t have some extra, unused room to pile up packed boxes in.

    Anyway, good luck and keep packing! You husband is nuts.

  • Cassie

    August 12, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    1. PURGE! Purge like your life depends on it! You don’t need most of your stuff and purging is so much better than packing, moving and unpacking. 

    2. Absolutely, positively hire movers. It is literally the best money I’ve ever spent. You have two little kids. If there is ANY WAY that you can afford movers, HIRE THEM! Get quotes, do not take the lowest quote – they will end up taking longer than anticipated and gouging you – pick a reasonable middle ground. 

    3. Pack when he’s not home, even if he doesn’t want you to pack his stuff, pack the stuff you know he won’t see or touch between now and moving. We packed for about six weeks before our move and we were still finding random crap that hadn’t been packed the day of. (packers are a godsend. If you can afford them, DO IT. If it’s between packers and movers, get the movers). 

    4. You could get a pod – they bring it to your house and put it in your driveway. As you pack, put stuff in it. They then pick it up and store it for you, then deliver it to your new place. Although our friends who told us about that also told us that they could have just gotten rid of everything in the pod. 🙂 

    Seriously, though. Don’t move yourself, and DEFINITELY don’t make a million trips over several weeks.