Now what I have come to find out is relocating for a wife’s job is quite unique. For us it did not seem all that strange because we have always been a two parent working household sharing just about everything. There are no “man” jobs or “woman” jobs in our house, there are just “jobs”. So there here are the 12 things we learned to stay sane while moving the family across country. Now to give some logisitics background on this, my wife started her job in Virginia in early July the kids, the dogs and I did not come down til three weeks later.
Yes, communication is number one on this list! There are so many details that need to be worked out that if you are not using all means of communication, you will not survive! You must rely on technology, verbal and nonverbal cues as well as listening. Yes, listening is a key factor in communication. There will be many, many, many lists to write down, so listen, well and write down or you will forget…trust me!
2. Rely on people you don’t know
There are many people you will need to rely on for this journey. Many of them you have never met or had a relationship with in the past. There will be relocation companies, Realtors, insurance companies, financial institutions, employers, friends, new acquaintances, hotels, gas stations, and restaurants. That is just a short list. You will in most cases have to trust them, but if your gut tells you “Hey you, ya you with the brain, I just threw a red flag up, want to do something about that?” TRUST what your gut is telling you!
3. Renegotiate everything
That is right! Everything is usually an opening offer and this situation calls for counteroffers. You will not be offending anyone, they expect it. The relocation path is a very fluid and changes daily, sometimes even hourly. What I found is most of the people with this path just want everyone fairly treated. After all, what more can anyone ask for?
4. Pack, unpack, repack, rinse and repeat
The most valuable lesson I learned was packing for the 1,300 miles trip from Minnesota to Virginia. Non-stop packing for the house, for the kids, for myself, and the car. Yes, I drove it all by myself….oh wait I did have 2 kids an 6 year old and an 8 year old, oh yeah and two 50lb dogs. I did a pretty good job of getting all the clothes necessary for the trip and another week before our whole house arrived before the movers showed up (trust me get this done before they show up, they are fast and it will get packed if not in Safe Zone). The one thing I did not do was pack a smaller bag with just clothes and essentials for the road trip. Lugging two HUGE suitcases in and out of the hotels was not fun. Lesson learned!
5. Dads know your role, it is not the one you were taught growing up!
Being that it was a unique situation according to everyone, we were relocating because of a career opportunity for my wife. I got to take on some unique roles for the last 3 months. I essentially became the main caregiver for the last 3 weeks. Which I gladly stepped up and took on and absolutely loved the time the five of us got to spend. I really gained a whole new appreciation for the many roles my wife plays in our children’s life as well as mine. WOW, we have a great mom and wife!
6. Throw your schedules out the car window while driving!
The quickest thing I found out was those pesky times society places on you about breakfast, lunch and dinner, yeah they don’t work in this situation. There is just so much going on you do a lot of relying on your stomach to tell you what meal it was. Breakfast exactly at 8am, lunch at Noon, and Dinner at 6pm really is hard to do. Be flexible and make an adventure out of it. Yes, the kids the first night of the trip ate dinner at 9:00pm. They loved it!
7. Packing your vehicle for access
As I mentioned before, we took a 1,300 mile road trip! Everything must be with in arms reach with easy access. That goes for the Driver as well as your passengers. Keep in mind little kids have car seats and short arms. Make sure snacks, water, DVD’s, coloring books, books, music, toys, and high fives are within an arms lengthen to keep everyone happy. Oh and for the driver make sure Google Maps, Coffee, Water, Snacks, and Energy Drinks can be found without taking eyes off the road. This can be accomplished by setting up your passenger seat with a little strategy! Sidenote: make sure to find all the chargers you will need and put in your bag as you find them!
8. The dreaded “I have to go to the bathroom” from the backseat
There were two things I learned along the way with four passengers with bladders the size of a pea. You have to always, I mean always have them go to the bathroom at every stop you make. Remember to ask! Remember to take them! Secondly, limit the number of times you say “Anyone have to go to the bathroom” you will be stopping everytime you ask. This question some how triggers the “yes I have to go pee” response. It is like the ring bell or something.
9. Invest and leverage YOUR technology
The consumer probably has at its disposal better technology hardware and software than the of the companies in which you will work on this journey. If you get a chance, introduce them to these technologies! Without a printer and Box.Net buying a house in another state would not have happened so quickly. The realtor and loan officer absolutely loved these two pieces of technologies for quick responses and properly processed documentation. Being that Mom was back and forth for a few weeks we used Facetime, Skype video and Google chat video. It all depended on which hardware was in front of us at the time. This really helps stay connected. Texting was a lifesaver, so gear up those thumbs. Most of all I really enjoyed using all the technologies on my phone!
10. Bring your online communities along for the journey
Let people know what your are doing. Share your experiences with your online communities. For the most part people like helping, seeing photos, and sharing the experience with you. In preparation for our move across the country, I established a hashtag #mn2va on twitter. This allowed people to easily see what tweets were in regards to this transition and travel.
I also prepared my facebook with an album called A Man his Two Kids Two Dogs and a Vacuum! #mn2va July 2011. This helped centralize all my photos and comments. Leverage Location Based technologies so people know everything is ok. This is also fun to see what badges and pins you can gather along the way. I also used a great new tool called Glympse! This helped Mom know where we were at all times. She also knew right away once getting to Virginia Beach I was going the wrong way to the corporate housing and quickly called!
11. PATIENCE PATIENCE PATIENCE!
Everything is not going to work out according to YOUR plan. Things must be taken in stride and adjusted every step through this journey. Going back to number 1 on this list helps a lot. Always state the problem, then the desired outcome, then hear solution and then make a decision. There is no need to get angry, yell, scream, call names, or hang up phones (I did none of these things by the way). These tactics and emotions get you nowhere!
12. You are doing the right thing!
There will be bumps in the road, naysayers, confidence reducers and doubts. Just remember many many many folks do this all the time and it works out 9 times out of 10. Especially when it comes to driving across the country with 2 kids and 2 dogs by yourself. I heard “You are a brave brave man” and “Really, you sure you can handle that?” and “Whoa, what are you doing?” have the confidence that with proper planning, using your street smarts, technology, and enjoyment of succeeding, you two can keep your sanity while moving clear across the country.