UPDATED: “Moving is the 3rd most stressful life event”…

How crazy it is that this topic is always so current?

and once more, our nomadic family finds itself jumping the ‘ bidding-season’ ropes… It never fails. Always exciting, nevertheless, stressful… Are we, Foreign Service folks, somewhat creatures of dark sarcastic humor? We must be, otherwise, what could be a logical, plausible explanation for continuously putting ourselves – and respective hauling families – through such an ordeal?

A long time has gone by since I first prepared this blogpost… And yet, it remains so current! Even celebrated my birthday surrounded by bubble wrap & moving boxes – it was pack out season! 😮 The original post was “Inspired by the FS Blog Round Up, I decided to do some research and put together a pack of interesting information about moving and packing, including my personal comments. Some of the “facts” were actually quite new to me.

Others, made me laugh. What about a bit of my life as a ‘rolling stone’? 😮 That’s exactly how I feel, moving every so often!

Also found some “advice” on moving with small children – supposedly, “moving with kids could be a breeze, if you plan ahead”. This is probably my favorite, and I ask: “how much ahead to you need to plan? maybe before you were joined by your kids??” 😮

Anyway, here are some of the ‘facts’ about moving and packing:

Comment: Really?! Would have never guessed! 😮 Moving is trauma, ranked right up there with getting a divorce, losing a job or burying a loved one. But chances are you already know that. So here comes the question:

So.. Why we do it???

** just a rhetorical question! We all look forward to those intense

finding-sorting-wrapping-packing-storing days!

  • One-sixth of all Americans, an estimated 43 million people, move each year. (U.S. Census Bureau)

Comment: And 50% of all moves take place between Memorial Day and Labor Day – that’s just weird – at that time, I had no idea why the preference! [** U.S. school year/calendar (thanks, Carla!)… now it does make sense – another hint that I’m a foreign-born spouse!] 😮

  • Individuals move 11.7 times in their lifetime. (from: U.S. Census Bureau)

Comment: Already crossed that mark, even before meeting the husband and joining the FS…

  • The typical moving customer is a married couple between the ages 25 and 44, with one or two children between the ages of 2 and 11.

Comment: Good to know we’re not alone. It comforts me to know there are several other parents out somewhere, screaming and kicking … 

And here are some of the “advices”:

  • Get back to normal: For the sake of the entire family’s happiness, try not to take too long to resume doing what your family enjoys.

Comment: I’d really appreciate knowing how to get back to normal after a move, not taking long to resume to your ‘normal’ routine. Maybe I’m always too busy trying to prevent the kids from killing each other, that I may loose focus…

  • Pack late (late?) – The actual process of packing up and putting things away in boxes may be emotionally trying for preschoolers, as they see familiar and favorite objects disappear into boxes. Try to pack your preschoolers’ belongings as late in the moving schedule as possible, and reassure them that their belongings will be going to the new house.

Comment: You don’t realize how much stuff your kids have until you start packing.  BTW, where are the kids? Make sure the answer to your question is on the top of your to-do list! 

  • Pace Yourself: Your already busy schedule keeps you on your feet at all times, and moving adds a whole new list of things to do.  Plan ahead. Give yourself several weeks to pack for your move, that way you are only packing a few boxes a day. This will decrease the amount of time you need away from your everyday responsibilities, including your kids. In other words, it’s not only about keeping your kids busy, but it’s about making yourself more available during your move.

Comment: Would love to know how to pace myself. One day I’ll learn. Not next year. Not in this decade. Also, how could I “buy” several weeks ahead, for packing before a move? If I’m able to manage a semi-smooth “packing & moving” event, ensuring that our car keys and travel documents won’t be packed away with our HHE, I’ll be pretty lucky!:o  Here is some good advice (at least for me!) about keeping it real for the traveling children (thanks to “Family-Travel-Scoop”): Do talk frankly with your children about the move Do let your child express his/her feelings Do acknowledge their frustrations/anger Do research the country you are moving to with your child Do let your child say goodbye properly to the place you are leaving Do expect an adjustment period when your child has mixed emotions Do keep traditions from home alive in your new home Do maintain regular ties with family back “home” Do bring items (e.g. framed pictures) and put them in each home you live in a similar place Do involve your child with any decisions that may affect him/her if possible

Good luck to all the ones moving out this season! I’m glad we don’t have to think about packing for at least, another 8 months… Oh, boy!!


Author: 3rdCultureChildren

Welcome! Here I am, 'releasing' my thoughts on traveling, parenting, raising TCKs, teaching, writing, working... and who knows what else! I’m a WIFE, 'geeky-stuff' SCIENTIST, TEACHER, AMATEUR photographer, MOM of 3, TRAVELER by choice and by marriage, and of course, a HOUSEHOLD QUEEN!!

32 thoughts on “UPDATED: “Moving is the 3rd most stressful life event”…”

  1. Hi there, just wondering if I can link up to this post on my blog: theraapsinbrazil.blogspot.com
    In our attempt to start a business here in Brazil we have been back and forth between Canada and Brazil, with a total of 10 moves in under 10 years of marriage, with our last move here being 7 months pregnant. Thought it would be interesting for my readers to get a flavor of how stressful it can be.


  2. When I was a child up until my 20’s as a family we would move every 2 to 4 years. My dad was in the Navy and every though the military help in some ways such as cost we were the ones responsible for wrapping and packing all our stuff.


  3. Ugh. I have to do this next week. My tip is ‘pack the kids off to nan’s for 2 weeks to get it all done without them!’. (My kids are 10 and 14 though so can actually do this. 🙂


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  5. Interesting points! We also moved countries with 3 kids under 8, and I must say, aside from Our stress of making sure (as you say) that all documents were always handy, especially at a border crossing, it went relatively smoothly. AND we moved in the middle of a school year, with 2 of them school-age. Wouldn’t want to do it again, though.


  6. We fit the demographic. Moving is tough all right! We moved from Wisconsin to Seattle, stayed in Seattle two years, and then moved to Minnesota. Hope it’s the last for many decades! BTW the kids were 8&9 on the first move, and 10&11 on the second.


  7. Great blog! It brings back memories and makes me grateful that my kids were all grown up before i began my expat life. First grandchild on the way though so that should bring some interesting times…


    1. Daisy – Glad you liked it! I still have a long, long way ahead of me… still hauling 2 toddlers and a baby around… I feel like I’ve had some many homes already… one can never be fully prepared for a move – when you think you’ve figured something out, new challenges arise! 😮
      But wouldn’t change anything. It’s good to be “in motion”… congratulations on your soon-to-arrive grandchild!


  8. “Comment: And 50% of all moves take place between Memorial Day and Labor Day – that’s just weird – no idea why the preference!”

    That’s the end of the school year, most parents chose to move during the summer so they don’t have to switch the kids’ school in the middle of the school year. (And I’m not just being smart by knowing that, it’s a very well-known fact.) It also coincides with kids going to college and what not.


    1. Thanks, Carla! I guess because my kids are way too young (oldest is 5,5) and we haven’t had to place them in American Schools (before Brazil, Mozambique). In Brazil and Mozambique the school year runs from Feb through the end of November… Thanks for the clarification! 😮


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