One day before my husband said "I do," we moved the final boxes into our new home.
As conservative, responsible, let's-set-a-good-example adults that we are, we chose not to move in together before the wedding. As we attempted to set this pristine example of adulthood — which was surely lost on our children and their other parents — we just about went crazy in the process.
When we should have been celebrating the our upcoming nuptials, we instead found ourselves overwhelmed and arguing about the chaotic state of the house, while also scrambling to pack for our honeymoon.
Together, we learned a lot throughout this entire experience. With that in mind, here are a few things you shouldn't do when bringing two families under one roof.
1. Don't settle one family a month or more in advance of the other. My son and I were super established by the time my then fiance and his girls brought in their boxes. We had long been unpacked, organized, and in a routine. I had a freshly pressed table runner on the dining room table for crying out loud. When the rest of the new family arrived, chaos ensued. Instead, we should have considered getting married first and then merging households around the same time.
2. Don't assume you'll have similar packing styles. To say I was organized is an understatement. I spent months purging items I didn't want to take with me and I could tell you exactly where everything in my entire house was located. Each box was marked with the corresponding room. Let's just say my husband's approach was quite the opposite. In hindsight, it may have been worth every dollar to recognize our own strengths and weaknesses, and plan accordingly with a packing company.
3. Don't promise any of the children a particular living arrangement. We had a few miscommunications about which child would have which bedroom, and deciding the furniture for each kept me from sleeping for weeks. No decision would have better,than any decision before we moved in.
If I could do it all over again, here's what I would do:
1. Do rent a storage unit. Regardless of the size of the new house or the old abodes you are coming from, there will be more stuff than there is room. You will need a landing place for a short time while you decide if you really like his old sofa, or if you really need two waffle irons.
2. Do make room in your timeline and budget for unforeseen changes. We should not have tried to move, marry and honeymoon in the same week. We are resilient, but we ended up cutting our honeymoon short to come back and sort. I wouldn't recommend it.
3. Do hire a moving company. This is not a suggestion, but a requirement.
4. Do send the kids to their grandparents for the week. This is also not just a suggestion.
5. Do accept the use of boxes marked "open later." You really won't miss finding that Halloween costume from 2001 until much, much later.
I'm happy to say that these missteps did not keep us from walking down the aisle, and we recently enjoyed a few laughs while unpacking those last few mystery boxes.
Jessica Janssen Wolford is a mom and stepmom raising three kiddos with her husband, Eric, in Elkhorn. You can read more about her experiences on her blog, “A Step in the Right Direction.” You can also follow her on Twitter @jessljwolford.