How to Be a Good Friend When Your Friend is Moving
Moving is a major life event. The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory even includes moving as a stressor in their Life Stress Assessment. Though it’s not in the top ten life stressors, when you’re trying to pick up your life and take care of all the exhausting details that come with a change in the place you call home, it can definitely feel like it.
Just like we’d want to show up for a friend when they’re experiencing a breakup or a loss, being there for someone when they move is one of those instances when the love and care extended through a helping hand creates a lasting memory and an imprint of compassion on a friend’s heart.
Before the Move
- Help them pack. Packing is not the fun part. It’s hard to decide what to pack first, it’s hard to start, it’s hard to live with boxes everywhere and feeling like your current living space is coming down around you. Helping someone makes the process not only less lonely, but adds some fun. Hardly any dreaded task isn’t made better with the addition of a pal.
- Remind them to take pictures of the place they’re leaving (or do it for them). With all the commotion involved in moving, your friend may not even think of taking pictures of their current home. And even if it’s a place they’re super happy to move on from, their home is part of their story and worthy of preservation. A walk-through video is another option.
- Watch the kids. If your friend has children, taking them out for ice cream or even a basketball game in the driveway will free up time for them to focus on their to-do list without feeling torn or distracted. Watching children during and after a move is also extremely helpful.
- Bring them food. Put some ready-made meals in their freezer or drop off a meal or two. Getting dinner on the table every night is hard even when everything is status quo. Introduce preparing for a move into the equation and there aren’t likely to be many home-cooked meals. Pasta sauce, casseroles, and soup are all easy-make meals that freeze well. (Be mindful of how long your friend has before they move; you don’t want them worrying about transporting frozen meals they haven’t had a chance to enjoy.)
- Help clean the new place. If the place your friend is moving into needs cleaning, help get this task done before any moving starts; obviously, an empty home is easier to clean than one full of boxes. And a clean one is far more welcoming.
- Make runs to the store. When you’re near the grocery, hardware, or home improvement store, give your friend a call and ask what you can pick up for them. They could have new Sharpies, another pack of wrapping paper, or a tape gun on their list and bringing it to them will be a big relief that allows them to continue working without spending time running out to the store.
- Collect boxes. Ask what kinds of boxes they need and if they want you to help collect them. Drop them off periodically and make sure to stay abreast of current needs. If you have the time, help set up flattened boxes so they’re ready to be filled.
- Paint the new place. If painting needs to be done at the new place and your friends are doing it themselves, offer to help. As opposed to packing personal belongings, which might be something your friends aren’t comfortable with others handling, painting is a pretty impersonal task.
On Moving Day
- Be there. Just being there with a smile and a working attitude will be a huge morale boost for your friends on their big day.
- Communicate. Don’t assume any roles and don’t just do what you think needs to be done. Feel out your friend’s style if you don’t know it already before you either take charge in a certain area or make yourself available to take orders. If you’re in doubt about something, ask. It might also be a good idea to let your friend know how long you’ll be there helping just so they don’t have to wonder.
- Be the contact person. Have other helping friends contact you for details when necessary so your friend can focus on what’s happening with the move.
- Bring food or arrange to have it delivered. Another morale boost and cheer-giver, breakfast treats and coffee will keep everyone fueled. When lunch and dinner time approach, offer to arrange deliveries or pick up food. Don’t forget to bring or pick up disposable plates and utensils and drinks.
- Bring cold water. Consider bringing a cooler with water bottles for the movers and other friends helping. Taking care of the others helping your friend helps your friend.
- Stock bathroom and kitchen necessities. Put toilet paper rolls and hand soap in the bathrooms and hand soap, dish soap, and a sponge in the kitchen. Scrambling for these when you need them is stress your friend could do without.
- Set up beds for the family. Offer to blow up mattresses and unroll sleeping bags or put sheets and blankets on the beds so your friend and the family have a comfortable place to rest their weary heads without having to find and make up beds.
After the Move
- Clean the old place. Losing a deposit is one of those horrible expenses everyone groans about. Help prevent this possibility by going back after the old place is empty and cleaning it according to move-out instructions.
- Help unpack. Again, feeling our your friend’s level of comfort is key because the last thing you want to do is add more stress. For instance, you might want to see if you can help with something like unpacking linens rather than making decisions about what goes where in the kitchen. If you’re helping alongside your friend and they seem to know what they want, just invite and follow specific requests.
- Again, food. Always help with food. Check in beforehand to see what sounds good and whether refrigerated, frozen, or ready-made food is best, but there are few major life events that meals cooked by others with love don’t help.
- Remind them to try to create one sane space. If your friend is frazzled and spent, which is quite likely after a move, help them maintain a slice of serenity by getting one small hangout space set up and organized. This can be the kitchen table or a corner of the bedroom.
- Bring flowers or a plant. When everything is in chaos, a bright spot of blooms or the soothing green of a houseplant provides a place to rest one’s gaze and draw some small amount of peace.