I just moved. And I did not easily move. I moved during the holidays, with 40 days notice, and to a house half the size. I did this while fighting the flu, packing, harvesting our olive grove and finding a rental house that would take 2 dogs – one being over 90 pounds. Not easy! And, I’ll be moving again sometime this year when my husband and I buy another home.

moving ultimate constraint

How do you successfully move?

Well, it’s not hard if you think like a project manager. Sit down and work backward from the date you have to move. In my case, our contingencies were not lifted until 3 weeks before we closed, so that was a milestone date in my project plan. I could not commit to a new home lease or any permanent decisions until all of the contingencies were lifted, making this extra difficult. I also went ahead with the tasks that needed to be booked in advance, such as the movers and booking a cleaning crew.

Once I had a project plan with milestones, I could start adding the next level of detail. In my case, many of my items would need to be stored for a year. So, I had to go through my home and decide what I could live without for that period of time. Rather than just start packing, I used colored stickies to show what was going into storage. This is also something that wasn’t permanent – if the contingencies did not lift, I could just throw them away. But I spent the time to make these decisions upfront so that packing was faster and easier. I also asked myself – have I used this in the past year? If the answer was no, it was a definite for storage or donation.

I was starting to get stressed out about the timing, but luckily, I found the perfect rental home that accepted our dogs just days after the contingencies were removed. Now, planning started to immediately become execution.

One of the first things that I did was to map items in each room to the place they would go in the new house. For the movers, I posted signs about what the room was called in the current house, then posted the same signs in the new house. For example, we have a man guest room and a woman guest room. So, they needed to know where to put boxes marked “man room”. I also meticulously labeled the boxes. After listing the room, I wrote the contents on each box. This really helps me now when I find myself going down to the storage area to find my rolling pin!

moving ultimate constraint

Pot roast tacos

I also thought about meal planning. Since our home was far in the mountains, there aren’t any options to call for carryout. And, I don’t feed myself or my family processed foods, so I had to plan how to keep everyone fed when the kitchen was not complete. This included my dogs. I make their food, so they were included in the meal plans just like the people!

moving ultimate constraint

I did a little advance cooking, such as making baked casseroles and freezing them. But honestly, I was so busy, there wasn’t a lot of time for that either. I just simplified. Using two plates, two wine glasses (of course!), a frying pan and a couple utensils, I made great meals for us. After packing, we hungrily gobbled omelets and french fries with chardonnay; skillet hamburgers with pinto beans and beer; spaghetti alla carbonara with chianti; and tacos with leftover pot roast. I thought about things that I could make that we could eat throughout the week, such as the pot roast. It comforted us tremendously on a rainy day while packing, but was a life saver as a cold roast beef sandwich the next day and in tacos a few days later. I did the same with chicken, making a healthy brodo with a whole bird and using the meat for chicken salad sandwiches and enchiladas. I also got creative by having to use what was in the refrigerator since I didn’t want to buy a lot. When I didn’t have much parmesan for the spaghetti alla carbonara, I made a gorgonzola sauce and created a new recipe that I will make time and time again!

Sure, it would have been easier to go to Safeway and buy some frozen pizzas. But, I enjoyed the challenge of keeping our gourmet meals even under the stress of moving. Only on move day did we get hamburgers and fries for us and the dogs on the way with the movers from one house to the other. Pretty good, I’d say!

constrained gourmet move day

Tuba and Watson on move day

When you have constraints, like moving, it’s hard not to think of it as a burden. But if you can see a burden as a challenge, it makes all the difference. And it allows you to have some fun with it and set a goal for yourself, too!