First of all, make sure you have somewhere arranged to live after you move out of your house and before you start your travels. Yes, even if it’s only a couple of weeks, and even if the nonchalant “It’ll all work out” seems like a reasonable plan initially. It won’t be. Trust me on this. You might find it adds to the already surprisingly stressful enterprise of moving. (Ah, the romance of Moving to Nowhere…where has that gone?)
Secondly, do not underestimate the stress that goes with packing up a house you have lived in for 10+ years. You have no idea how much stuff is in the back of those cupboards and closets. None. Oh, and start early. Do not, for example, think you can pack the entire house in the two weeks before you move out. This will not be a good idea. You may find you don’t have time to do other things, like feed the kids, shower, or breathe.
Thirdly, don’t expect there to be any peaceful moments or tidy spaces in your house ever again. Your house will not only be full of half packed boxes, it will also be dirty and messy. Because who has time to clean when you are trying to focus on breathing? You probably won’t even have the energy to yell at the kids to tidy up their stuff, so expect that to be all over the house as well. This will complement the box situation quite nicely. Oh, and when your eleventy-two year old says she’s packing her room, what she means is she’s spreading all of her stuff over the floor and any other available surface of her room. Just FYI.
Fourthly, start small with the travel. Pick somewhere you are familiar with for the first part of your venture. Don’t, for example, decide to go to Central America first if you’ve never been there before, don’t really know anything about it, have never done much tropical travel, and are afraid of diseased mosquitos. Bad Idea. Instead, think of how much the kids could learn on a trip to, say, Tignish. Really, how many of us have truly explored Tignish? I’m sure the learning opportunities are endless.
And finally, even if you make all of the above errors, try to stay positive. Just pack, breathe, pack, breathe, feed kids, shower, pack, breathe…in that order. Get yourself into a routine. Avoid over consumption of alcohol (helps with the breathing, but slows down the packing), and if at all possible, start anti-anxiety medication at least one month prior to the move.
Above all, try to remember that this is FUN! This is your year off! The year you’ve waited four years for! Woo-Hoo!