We brought everything with us when we moved from the UK to Belgium. And I mean everything! We had boxes in our garage full of toy money from monopoly games, notes from University lectures and slightly mouldy paper backs. We now had to decide what to take to the other side of the world.
The was going to be very tricky as we were on a somewhat limited budget but on the other hand we didn't want to spend a lot of money when we reached New Zealand. Having done some research on the Internet we discovered that furniture was likely to be quite expensive out there and - horror of horrors -there is no Ikea yet in New Zealand! I ended up getting all the removal firms to give us two quotes - one for taking everything (Ikea flat pack and all) and one for just the bare essentials (mainly toys and photos). It turned out that there wasn't all that much difference in the quotes and we decided to take everything, which was unlikely to be a full container load.
We still had to have a big clear out. The kids had grown up a lot since we had been in Belgium and I had lots of baby gear to get rid of and there was also the strict import guidelines in New Zealand to consider. You are not allowed to bring in any soil, food, untreated leather goods or plant or animal matter. So if we were to bring our bikes and pushchairs they would have to be thoroughly cleaned. Luckily we didn't own any moose heads or other hunting souvenirs so that wasn't a problem!
We did however have a large plastic Wendy house which had lived in the garden for over a year which we had to dismantle, de-spider and disinfect. There was apparently no way we could live without this (according to my 4 year old). I did however manage to sneak out the small ride on lion with the really annoying and repetitive tune that plays relentlessly.
We eventually got our visas through, mainly thanks to a nice lady called Ros who worked in the New Zealand embassy in Brussels. She was very helpful and got our visas ready in a day as soon as she received all our passports. We were now able to book our flights and it all began to look like it was actually going to happen.
Packing is never easy and thankfully my parents agreed to come up and help clean the house and pack in the two weeks before the big move. We also had a visit from DHs Dad - that was when it began to sink in that we were actually going to be moving a long way away. I think I coped with this by not actually thinking about it (denial is always a good option). But when it actually came to saying goodbye to people it was very difficult.
The girls seemed to cope well until we actually had to start packing away all their toys. It was difficult to explain why all the toys would be travelling on a big boat but we were going on the plane. DD2 seemed to take all the packing in her stride and wanted to be packed in a box herself.
One of the major problems we had was deciding what to actually take on the plane with us. Anything that went by boat wouldn't be seen for 3 months so we had to pack enough in suitcases to last that long. We decided to take a few essential toys and books for the girls to make them feel at home. I sorted out clothes and shoes - bearing in mind we were heading towards the end of summer in New Zealand and leaving the snow and ice from the depths of winter in Belgium. It was going to be a big change.
I had a big discussion with DH about whether or not to pack sheets and towels and how to fit them in. I am sure he would have been happy sleeping on coverless duvets and us all using the one towel - however I can not live like that. In the end I had to make do with taking two towels and no bedding as there simply wasnt the space. DD2's Fimble and DD1's rabbit took priority.
The removal men arrived one day before our flight was due to go. I have never had my items professionally packed before and was rather surprised when they started to pack up all our Ikea flat pack furniture in bubble wrap and protective wrapping. It was rather scary when you know that all your worldly goods will soon be floating about in the middle of the Atlantic. And even more scary when you see the four suitcases you and your family are going to be living out of for the next 3 months.