Mindful packing for expats (and surviving with just a teapot)

We move to Chile in January. Plenty of time, you say. Yes, but we’re getting our stuff shipped this week.

As an expat for most of my life I should be used to it, but it’s turning into a logistical nightmare. I’m drinking tea to calm my nerves.

I moved to the UK with my first son (Sebastian), a big belly (with Rafa inside) and just a couple of suitcases. We were planning to join my husband in Nigeria after the children had had their vaccinations. However, after Rafa’s rather traumatic first months of life I decided Lagos wouldn’t work for us after all.

So most of our worldly goods are on their way to the UK from Nigeria. We also have a few boxes coming from Spain, where my in-laws live. Not to forget several crates in my father’s garage in the UK.

expat relocation photo

We did manage to clear a friend’s attic in Belgium, I gave away a suitcase worth of clothes to friends in Syria and I think we’ve sorted just about everything from our time in Switzerland, but we still have too much stuff. I’ve been trying to do a hardcore MariKondo chuck out, but when your belongings are strewn across different continents, it’s hard to gather them for a proper sort out.

My dad told me how he initially moved to his apartment with just one set of cutlery, one teapot and the bare minimum of furniture. All his stuff remained tucked away in his huge triple garage while he got settled in. The months went by and he began to enjoy his simpler, lighter lifestyle without his stuff. When he was finally forced to empty his garage, he resented moving his belongings into his apartment.

The clutter arrived. The mess set in. The items which he considered so essential before his move now seemed rather useless. Worse still, the stuff was an invasion of his privacy, an intrusion into his simpler, more mindful way of living.

My brother and I joked about whose turn it was to use the teaspoon when we visited, but I now understand how my Dad felt.

My husband and I have given away lots of items, we’ll sell our car and some antiques, but the majority of our stuff is on its way to our next home in Chile.

Initially I was excited about the prospect of finally having all my things back: my handbags, my dresses, my teapots (I’m British, after all). Now I’m rather dreading it.

The New Year is the traditional time for a detox, but I’ll be booking a break away from it all earlier this year. January 2018 will be reserved for sorting my stuff, throwing out anything which doesn’t spark joy and removing the toxins of clutter. I just hope I find my teapot.

expat relocation time for tea photo

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