We’ve just moved house and this is how I coped

Coping with relocating

By Renate Engelbrecht

Wednesday, May 22

We have just finished moving house and while I was initially uncharacteristically calm, I might just break down and cry right about now. We’re in, I’ve just come back from three weeks of travelling back and forth, all while getting a magazine to print at the same time. I think this calls for a celebration! Who’s coming over? Wait, just let me cry first.

All jokes aside…

As a deep thinking, deep feeler, I am constantly conscious about my reactions to certain situations and I’ve come to terms with the fact that change is a definite trigger for me as an individual. (Which is weird, because I love travelling and they say change is as good as a holiday). I suppose I like to know that there is a home to come back to. My initial reaction to the constant chaos lingering in our house, and the calmness I felt as we started packing boxes, was therefore so strange to me. Hance my contemplation on coping with relocating.

So, without any fancy psychological explanations, here are some coping mechanisms I’ve been drawn to over the last couple of months leading up to our relocation, as well as during the move and even thereafter.

Block Plan When Moving House

I’ve taken to block planning many times, then slipped out of it, only to return to it again. It’s the one planning method that always works for me as it helps me to see a bigger picture amidst the everyday hustle. So, when things started to get real in terms of moving house, I resorted to block planning again and I’ve been checking into my Google calendar every morning and every evening, shifting things around if need be, ensuring that I allow myself time to get to everything as planned. Did I mention that amidst everything, I had to travel to Cape Town, the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and GweGwe Beach Lodge in the Eastern Cape, while also finalising and printing a magazine? All of that while trying to stay aware of a four-year-old and a six-year-old and the effect that our relocation might have on them emotionally.

This is exactly why I even include things like ‘read emails,’ ‘shop for kids’ school snacks,’ ‘pack boxes’ and ‘reading time’ in my block planning. This way, I am able to include all facets of life and not just work. It keeps me sane.

Moving house

Make Time to Exercise Even While Relocating

Even during a very busy time, I still try to make time for exercise. (Okay, if I’m being honest, this is very hard while travelling. But, I’m working on it, because it IS possible). Whether I take the dogs for a brisk walk, go for a short, but fast-paced run, or a longer run (which I’ve found to be quite therapeutic), I make time for exercising, especially when I am at home.

Take Your Vitamins and Hydrate when Moving House

I am not too good at remembering to take my vitamins each morning, but since I’ve been so conscious about my reactions to the move, I’ve been focusing on taking my daily dose of vitamins. Staying hydrated, I’ve come to learn, also helps a lot. While I am usually not a big water drinker, I do try to keep a bottle of water with me at all times and to make a point of drinking more water than coffee (or wine). I’ve also recently fallen back into the habit of drinking boiled water with lemon on colder days.

In addition to this, I’ve been taking NeuroVance, a blend of plant-derived phytochemical ingredients that combat stress and boosts brain function. I combine that with Biral, a natural product that I’ve been using for a very long time, which helps to reduce stress and anxiety.

Same same, but different

Since we have two little kids in our house and it’s our first time relocating as a family, I’ve been very attentive to their reactions to the situation as well. When they felt that, apart from the house changing, everything else would stay the same, they were much calmer. Wikus and I have been focusing on giving them as much quality time as possible, including them in packing boxes, talking them through the process and not keeping anything from them as we know they both do well when they have an idea of what will be happening next. Of course, my job as magazine editor and travel writer has been taking me away from home a lot lately and this has been a bit of a challenge, but with a very hands-on husband to support me, I knew the kids were still feeling loved and that they were still keeping to a routine even while I was away.

Coping with relocating

Keep Things Light While Moving House

Since I am probably the deepest feeler in our house (I mean, I cry while watching Maya The Bee!), I often find it challenging to see the lighter side of things. Especially in a situation which we did not necessarily want to be in. Relocating was not part of our long-term plans, hence we’ve had to deal with losing our dreams about our initial house, saying goodbye to so many memories of our young family and detaching ourselves from the house that we’ve worked so hard on to make it home. We’ve also had to come to terms with renting in stead of owning. Still, I’ve realised the importance of keeping things light and seeing the fun and excitement in the process of moving house, as the kids needed that to not feel overwhelmed. And, the funny thing is that when I focused on those things, I also felt less overwhelmed, so in the end, it was (and still is) a win-win.

When Relocating, Start Early

It was only on a Monday that we heard we could move into our new home on the Friday. We hadn’t had a fixed date for the actual move for a long time. For me – the planner – that was probably one of the hardest parts of the relocation process. Still, I had already started packing boxes about a month before, decluttering our home and making lists of things that still needed to happen. In that way, I was able to mentally prepare myself, to process the feelings about moving and to not add additional stress to an already stressful situation.

Swallow your pride

Since I am someone who likes to do things myself, because I want them to be done in a certain way, I’ve had to let go and let others help me where they could. People have offered to look after the kids on the day we were moving house; others have sent messages of encouragement, and some even offered to bring food. Community is so important and since we were only moving to another house in the same city, we were lucky that our community didn’t change and that we will still have their support. I’ve learned to say thank you instead of thinking of reasons why we wouldn’t need help. People WANT to help and, in a society where everyone is mostly living for themselves, I’ve come to appreciate these gestures so much more. I am someone who likes to help others when and where I can and therefore, when others offer to help me, I need to be able to accept their help and be thankful for their kindness and humanity.

Pay it forward

That said, with it being so difficult for us to leave the home we’ve come to love so much, I’ve been wondering about how I can make the final goodbye sting less. The day before our move, I took a moment to grab some shots of our favourite spots in our home for memories’ sake. Thinking back, taking photos of those special spots helped with the processing part of things. As I was taking pictures, I kept photographing things that I realised we were taking with. Ultimately, that confirmed it for me: The heart of the home is not the house; it’s the people in it. Luckily, I brought my people with me.

So, as we moved out, I prayed blessings over the people coming to live in our home next. My wish for them is that the house would be to them what it was to us, and so much more. There, I hope they can also build special family memories, enjoy the warmth of the fireplace we so lovingly installed, bask in the sun as the kids play on the lawn, and build dreams about their future amidst the magic of October and November’s Jacaranda rain.


I pray happiness and strong family bonds over them in that house and with that, the bittersweet experience of relocating became a little more sweet than bitter.

To their next adventure, and ours.

P.S. The images in this post are all from our new home. Still much to unpack and I might have to get an interior magician in here soon, but it’s home now. And here, we also have some favourite spots already.


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