Moving is a challenging process for anyone, but it can be even more traumatic when you’re going through a divorce. Separation comes with many memories — some sweet, some awful — and packing up the home you shared with your ex can be extremely painful. Remember to take your time if possible and to be gentle with yourself. Here are some ideas for making a smooth shift during such a trying time.

  • Make sure your legal affairs are in order.

The rush for one partner to leave the house isn’t worth the headache of getting to the day of moving and arguing over a bedroom set. Instead, enlist a legal professional or mediator and workout what who will take, leave, or sell the items in the home. This negotiation may sound tedious, but with the stress of a divorce and the emotional toll on both parties, no one wants to spend a moving day arguing over the items in the home or later regretting giving away a keepsake or expensive for the sake of keeping the peace. If you’ve hired a moving company, this will ensure that their labor the day of is as efficient as possible.

Five to six weeks before the move is an excellent time to begin sorting your belongings, splitting items with your partner, and agreeing on who gets what. First, consider the space you’re moving into. Be practical about what you need and want, and decide what you can do without. If you have items to sell, donate, or toss, you’ll have plenty of time to handle them. However, if there are items you may need to wait on due to a lease, or if you’re planning to move into a smaller home temporarily, you might consider renting a storage unit.

  • Plan ahead. Work ahead.

If you and your former partner still need to divide up belongings, be careful to keep their things separate by marking them with stickers or post-It notes. Make a plan for movers, storage units, and utility companies in advance, so no surprises are waiting on the day of the move. Finally, go online and set up your forwarding address with the post office so the post office will send your mail to your new place without a hitch.

Please don’t do this all alone. Enlisting the help of a trusted friend or family member can go a long way in getting things ready for the move while providing the moral support to get through the process.

If you need to sell your home, do everything you can to get the best possible price. From what real estate agent to hire to how to stage the house, there are many areas to consider.  Be sure to consult with those familiar with the process before you put out a sign and start opening your doors.

  • Stay organized while packing.

Gather up your school and medical records, information about your houses, insurance papers, current bills, and any other vital documents and put them in a gallon resealable zip-top bag for safekeeping during the move.

Put your last-day items in a suitcase, including your cell phone charger, medications, toiletries, and a day’s worth of clothing for everyone. Next, pack all your cleaning supplies, a manual can-opener, toilet paper, trash bags, light bulbs, tools, dish soap, rags and sponges, paper towels, and disposable plates and utensils into another box. This preparation will ensure that you’ll have a way to eat and clean up if you don’t get everything unpacked in a day.

Boxes and packing materials are costly, so if you’re trying to save money, visit local supermarkets and warehouse clubs and ask if they have any extra good-sized boxes you can use.

For clothing, leave everything in your closet on hangers. Instead, make a bundle of several items, secure with a twist tie, then make a hole in the middle of the bottom seam of a trash bag or large plastic shopping bag and slide the clothes inside with the top of the hangers through the hole. These make excellent temporary garment bags. You can grab the bag, transfer it to your new closet, untie it, and take off the bag.

  • Label all your boxes.

After you’ve decided what can go and what can stay, it can be beneficial to mark every box with the room it goes in, and keep a master list of everything you’re taking with you to check it when you get to your new home. Give each box a number and write down the contents on a list under that number.

  • Plan carefully for Moving Day.

Keep an open line of communication with those who will be helping out and make sure everyone is on the same page about when to meet up and what to do. For example, if you have more than a couple of helpers, assign someone to go in after emptying each room to clean and double-check drawers and cabinets.

If possible, bring in furniture and oversized items first and put them where they’ll be for the foreseeable future rather than loading items haphazardly and sitting them anywhere. Then, if you get the big stuff out of the way, you won’t have to worry about your energy level throughout the day, and you won’t be tripping over boxes trying to arrange things.

  • Don’t be too hasty to pitch your marital keepsakes.

When it comes to these items like wedding photos or mementos from dating, it can be tempting to toss them and move on in the divorce process. However, letting your post-divorce emotions settle is essential. There may come the point when you want to look back on that time in your life or share it with family members. So instead, consider boxing it away safely and reviewing it at another time.

  • Customize your new home.

Moving is always an excellent opportunity for a fresh start. When you’re moving somewhere new after a divorce, it’s essential that your place invites healing and positive energy. It may be a good time to switch up the furniture, reorganize, and have a fresh outlook on the newest phase of your life. Make your new space your own. Fill it with things you love that will help you find comfort and the ability to move on.

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