Preparing to Leave Home

When my parents introduced me to my new home in sixth grade, I rushed up the stairs to pick out my room. I settled on the room in the southeast corner, with beautiful painted wood floors and the view of the dawning sky from my floor-to-ceiling windows.

I will miss many things when I move out in two months, but I think I will miss my windows the most. Now, sitting on the floor among my scattered belongings, it feels odd to prepare myself not to come back.

Sure, I’ll visit, but the drawers and closet will be stripped of my belongings. My memorabilia might still be here, but they will be stored away in boxes until I find them a more permanent home. So as I begin the long process of tackling my own move out, here are my tips for others:

  1. So many memories. You might laugh at what you find or feel the urge to throw every cute picture online with a #throwbackthursday or #flashbackfriday hashtag. Maybe you’ll feel bittersweet and sad. Whatever feelings arise, accept that this is going to be kind of emotional.
  2. TAKE BREAKS. Seriously. Don’t nod your head and then ignore this advice and go on a marathon cleaning session. You will wear yourself out way before all your belongings are dealt with. Plus, remember the emotional part of this? You need some time to back away for your mental sake too. Personally, I like the “Unfuck Your Habitat” method of 20 minutes of work/10 minutes of rest, though I do shave down the latter to 5 minutes at times.
  3. Figure out how you are going to sort and categorize your belongings. I’ve boxed up different periods of my life: Middle school and younger, high school, college. I’ve made the decision that my beloved papasan chair is coming with me and my old dresser is hitting the curb. Box with purpose, not because you don’t know what else to do with it. If you are keeping something for vague, maybe-I’ll-need-it-someday purposes, chuck it. Either donate it or sell it but do not put in your moving boxes.
  4. Let things go. Believe me, I am a sentimentalist, but I am limiting myself to one or two boxes to certain periods of my life. I’m going to sell a lot of my old books to which I am not emotionally attached. But know what things you are unwilling to budge on: For example, I have a lot of books from college that I will keep despite it being profitable to sell them. I feel I can still learn and reflect on what I read in these books, and so they will stay.
  5. Accept the burden of your belongings. I know that my mom is thinking about selling her house in the next couple of years. Partially for this reason, I am taking the time now to make a complete move. No “Hey mom, can you just hold on to all these things I may or may not care about forever?” I know that I don’t know where I will be in the next couple of years and I also know that I don’t want anyone else to decide what happens to my belongings. For this reason, I am making sure that everything I leave at home is clearly labeled so that in due time I can take them into my possession. If your items must leave home but you don’t have space for it with you, consider a storage unit. And if your belongings are moving to a storage unit or garage, box appropriately with heavy-duty boxes so the contents don’t sustain any damage.
  6. Give yourself time. If you are a procrastinator like myself, it is really easy to keep telling yourself that you will work on moving out another day. With that mentality, you will suddenly have no days left and will wish you could recoup all that time to give your belongings the consideration they deserve. Instead, if cleaning and moving are stressful for you, incorporate fun elements to your cleaning. This could mean watching a favorite TV show or listening to podcasts or music while cleaning. Another piece of advice is to break up your clean out over time so that you can delineate solid achievements and made the burden seem less daunting.

Happy moving, and let me know your tips too!