So I was GOING to write a post offering helpful advice to people moving house. Specifically, people with children who are moving house. It was going to be Lisa’s guide to moving house without killing your children or your spouse or your well-meaning parents or the bandana-ed TV aerial dude who set up a deckchair in the garage and refused to fucking budge until he’d watched the sunset and made Frankie cry. That kind of guide. As it turned out, it'd be a pretty short guide, comprising one single piece of advice:
Get rid of the kids.
Get. Rid. Of. The. Kids.
I mean, not permanently, obviously. Unlock the doors on their 16th birthday, or something, but definitely get rid of them on moving day. Maybe even moving week.
That’s it. That’s my sole pearl of wisdom regarding moving house with children.
Moving house is hard enough work as it is. We did it last week. Today, in fact, is our one-week anniversary in our new house. Which is brilliant, and beautiful, and blessed with actual ocean glimpses, but is very, very new, and very, very shiny, and very, very untouched by human toddler. At least, it was. It’s now covered in fingerprints and snot and jelly. I think my children see this house as something of a challenge: just how many bodily fluids can they smear across the glass - glass! - front door, and which implement will leave the deepest groove in the oak flooring. I’ve already gone through a bottle of Windex and a large part of my sanity. I’m not proud of this: IT’S JUST WHAT THEY’VE DRIVEN ME TO.
But back to moving day. We actually took our own advice and got rid of the kids for the early part of moving day. My dad took them, god bless him, and left Paul and me and mum to the unenviable task of emptying the house of everything but the ghost of the Hungarian masseuse who died in the kitchen (before our time, but STILL). He could stay. It was all going swimmingly until the bank rang - while we were en route to the new house - and asked for more dollars. THOUSANDS more dollars. Do you have thousands of extra dollars stuffed in your knicker drawer? No, me neither. But what can you do when you’ve got a half-empty house at one end, a car-boot full of inappropriately sweary t-shirts (Paul’s), and a scullery - a fucking scullery - waiting for you at the other end? Yeah, you find the money, and resign yourself to a diet of beans and dust for the forseeable future.
Oh man, it was a long day. The longest. The kids came back at lunchtime and went fucking nuts. Frankie introduced himself to the neighbour (a lovely guy with an uncanny resemblance to Alan Bennett, the mild-mannered author) by standing on the front verandah and weeing on the pebbles, waving to Alan as the house prices plummeted.
Paul was faced with the not inconsiderable job of putting the kids’ beds up in time for bedtime, while they raced their bikes around the house (the INSIDE of the house) and stole important screws. We’d made the decision not to put Alice’s cot back up, and instead stuck her straight in a bed. Alice, being Alice, wasn’t phased by this AT ALL, but did fall out. Twice. I had to set up a crash pad of extra duvets and teddies.
My temper became increasingly frayed as the day progressed. I lost my shit when mum put my clothes into my wardrobe willy nilly. Some might say that I’m an ungrateful bitch, and I’m lucky to have a mum who would take the time to put my clothes into my wardrobe at all, but SHIT guys, everyone knows the dresses go in the dress section and the jeans go in the jeans section and that my t-shirts and Paul’s inappropriately sweary t-shirts go on opposite sides. And don’t even get me started on the colour coding.
At 6pm, when the kids were demanding food but I couldn’t find any, and the removalists were trying to lift a massive cubby house over a high brick wall, and the beds were in a million little pieces on the floor, and my t-shirts were mixed up with Paul’s formal trousers in the wardrobe, and Pirate Pete the TV aerial dude was still waiting for the TV bracket to be unloaded from the back of the moving truck, I felt a long, long way from normal life, and got the weirdest sense of homesickness. I wanted to go home, dead Hungarian masseuse and all.
If there’d been no kids around we’d have just got drunk and slept on the floor, like the wild young things that we are (ahem), but the three kids demanded some semblance of routine. That was hard. That was not fun. That’s why my sole piece of advice is to leave the kids out of the whole moving house thing, and get drunk instead. Pirate Pete and disorganised wardrobes and greedy banks won’t piss you off half as much if you’re drunk.