Psychologists say the most stressful changes for children are (in no particular order) moving, divorce, losing a pet, death of a parent and death of a sibling.
And for adults? According to Health Status, the top five include moving, divorce, major illness, job loss and death of a loved one.
Since moving is one of the highest stressors no matter your age, we know our whole family sits on the brink of needing to breathe into paper bags while counting to nine in Danish.
Even if you’re only moving down the street, you still need to empty cupboards, pack boxes, and then unpack in a new, unfamiliar dwelling. Some friends did this down-the-sidewalk-move; it was still a pain in the booty.
In our two decades together, my husband and I have moved across a state, across a valley, across a town and across a property. Moving to another country became the largest physical and mental move of all.
But now, even though excitement is building, moving back to the States brings a whole new set of potential stressors. Our youngest has never lived in America. Neither of our kids have ever attended an American school. Casual talk of carpeted classrooms and concrete playgrounds started their wheels turning and questions flying.
- Where am I supposed to play marbles?
- What do you mean they lock the classroom during lunch? So no one will steal my pesos?
- We get days off for Thanksgiving? Yessssss.
- Do we still have to march in a town parade three times a year?
- What does a cafeteria look like?
- Why isn’t Day of the Child a holiday up there?
- We still have to go to school when it rains? So there are no mud days?
- No uniforms? I feel like I’m going to have to buy more clothes so I don’t look like a weird-o.
Though not every realization is negative, the bottom line is upheaval. Disruption. Different house. Different community. Different friends. Different culture, schools and church.
We’re looking ahead at some major blessings God already lined up for our near future: a house to rent in a beautiful neighborhood. A job for my husband. A community of friends.
But Health Status also reports,
“In some cases, happy events such as the birth of a child, marriage, or even a new job can lead to stress. Even though these are joyous occasions, they are stressful. Why? They disrupt our lifestyle.”
Moving in the Middle of the Muddle
Stick a happy baby in the middle of boxes, packing tape, and newspaper, and you might get a welcome respite in the midst of moving chaos. That precious bundle, clueless as a lark, might look at you with eyes of contentment—enough to pull you back and remind you of the big picture.
But for most of us, packing and moving holds all the appeal of a stick in the eye. And for those of us who don’t hire moving companies, it’s even worse.
For Doug and me, even during times when our location change was going to be bigger and better, moving days have always been our most significant stressors. As if anyone needed another marriage builder.
At the beginning of all this talk of change, our move did not feel bigger and better though; it felt smaller and worse. Our calling became muddled and we weren’t sure which way to go next.
Are parts of your life muddled up right now? Though you might not be moving, countless circumstances bring stress and can cause heads to spin.
Are you sinking under the weight of your house payment?
Have you said “yes” to too many people too many times?
Are family dynamics straining close relationships?
Does the clutter in your home make your blood pressure rise?
Is there someone under your roof who’s always sick?
What can we do to reduce the stressors in our lives? Plan ahead? Log off? Donate something? Get more sleep? Say “no” a little more often? Leave a little earlier? Disable notifications? Downsize?
Our move is inevitable; I can’t avoid the impending day. I can take steps to reduce the day-of pandemonium though.
- Like cut back on blog posts? Maybe.
- Start packing more things I don’t need for the next month? Yes.
- Back away from the time-consuming recipes and go get tacos? Heck yes.
Friends are pitching in, boxes are being taped, furniture is already gone, cardboard forts are being built (and slept in), the house is going up for sale, random donations are being re-donated, and in a couple weeks we’ll be sleeping on the floor before we lock the door.
Although parts of our home resemble the wake of a tornado and parts of our life seem a bit stressful, our family feels peace. Peace about why we came, what we did, and why we’re leaving. You know—that peace God gives and nobody can explain? It’s rich and deep, and we know it’s a blessing not all can claim during seasons of mayhem.
If you need us, call 1.800.ORGANIZED.CHAOS, ext. 4.
“And then one day I decided that hurry and stress were no longer going to be part of my life. Stress is self-created; I decided to stop manufacturing it. We can choose an internal calm and joy even amid the chaos.” -Brendon Burchard