When people check in with us since our move, the focus tends to be on how the kids are doing with all the change. Understandably. Big changes are hard on everyone, but especially children. Two moves in three months was HARD. There’s no getting around it. But I think my kids handled it like rockstars!
Six months later, I thought now would be a good time to sit down and share a bit. Especially since so many people are asking. So whether you are just curious, or simply trying to gleam some advice in anticipation of your own move…here are some of they ways we helped our kids work through the transition.
/ COMMUNICATION /
I think sometimes we get these ideas in our heads that our kids can’t understand big concepts. But I think you walk a fine line when you keep things from kids in an effort to protect their little hearts. [I hope this is obvious, but please keep this in the context of moving.] There are big emotions that come with a huge transition like moving. Even when its just down the street! The more time you have to talk to your children about what this will look like, the more prepared they will be to handle those emotions.
Think about the anxiety that can creep up in us as adults with something as simple as an event you have never been to before. Not knowing who will be there or what to where or even what the venue will look like. For some of us that can be crippling.
Moving can bring up some very similar emotions. Talk to them about what you do know in as much detail as possible. Ask them if they have questions or concerns, but also give them space to process. Many days I felt like a broken record, but I asked them almost daily how they were feeling, what they were excited for, and if they had anything they wanted to talk to me or ask me about. A lot of really good conversations (as well as a lot of tears) were a result of those repetitive questions.
/ INVOLVEMENT /
One of the big keys to keeping our kids excited about the move, rather than anxious, was keeping them involved throughout the entire process. There are no secrets in our family. So we have been talking about the idea of moving for three, maybe four years as a family. While our kids by no means make the decisions in our home, they were a part of the discussion and they had plenty of opportunities for their opinions to be heard.
After we made an official decision and began the work of getting there, our kids had a huge role in helping us get ready. We cleaned out our closets. We purged our belongings. We donated toys and clothes and sold countless items. Through the process we talked about needs vs. wants. We talked about how blessed we were and that even though big changes meant tightening our budget…we still had far more than we needed. And we talked a lot about blessing others.
We by no means did it perfectly and our kids are far from flawless, but we are so proud of how our kids learned to give generously and think of others. We all know what a huge challenge that can be at any age.
/ SURPRISES /
You know how on really stressful weeks [months/years…] you like to treat yourself with occasional indulgences? They are by no means necessary…but they make some of those really challenging seasons a bit more tolerable, right?
This is one of those things my husband does really well. He can always sense when something has become too much and has us all take a step back and do something fun. Sometimes it was a trip to the store to pick out some ice cream and we would eat it all in two days. Other times, we would choose to surprise the kids with a movie at the theater [or in our own living room, which we made into a theater for the night]. One day, I made dinner to go and my hubby met us down at the beach for picnic after work. Just for the fun of it!
It’s so so so important to remember that these moments with our children are fleeting. I mean, I blinked and my kids were 5 and 7! It was so essential for us to intentionally build memories with our kids, even in the midst of that crazy time in our lives. In fact, that was, looking back, the only part I truly enjoyed about the process. But I look back and smile at how we made the crazy fun.
/ FORWARD THINKING /
As we got closer and closer to the actual move, we focused the kids attention on our new home. We gathered a floor plan to our new apartment online and had the kids help us decide how to arrange our furniture in our new space. We let them dream up their new room…from the wall decor all the way down to the bedding. [Now…that didn’t mean they GOT everything they wished for, but why not dream?!?] We got on google maps and took a virtual tour of our new town and new school and talked about the kinds of things we wanted to look for in our future friends. We even made a bucket list of things we wanted to see around town.
It can be so easy to focus on all that you are leaving behind during times of big change like this. But by focusing on all we had to gain and the adventures to be had, it helped us keep our minds in the right place.
/ GOODBYES /
Saying goodbye is always really hard. To make this transition as easy as possible, we had a couple ideas up our sleeve [although one turned out more coincidence than planning…but I’m still taking the credit].
For one, as we were packing, we had the kids each fill a small bag with their favorite things to keep close to their side. They each had a couple books. Hollywood packed his compass and spyglass, along with some transformers. Cocoa took along her favorite barbies, her doll, and some changes of clothes for them. This really became important when we spent our week “homeless” [at grandma and grandpa’s, and then at a hotel].
Now, I know our move took place the week after Christmas…but our coincidental circumstances turned out to be one of the best possible scenarios for the big move. Since we were moving away from grandpas, grandmas, aunts, uncles, cousins and countless friends…it was such a treat to the kids to get to spend a whole week at their grandparents’ house. They got to soak in the hot tub every morning, eat dinner together, bake cookies and read bedtime stories before bedtime. They even got some one on one time without mom and dad as we went back home to pack the moving pods. In other words: they got their grandpa and grandma fix.
I’m not going to lie – I was worried about the goodbye. But I think that week was exactly what they needed to fill their cup before taking off on our new adventure.
What about you? Have you ever moved with kids? If you have any tried and true tips for any future movers out there, please share it in the comments below.
P.S. See all our moving photos on Instagram. #thedivamoves #thedivamovesAGAIN