KIDS + ADJUSTING TO A BIG MOVE
I’ve been collecting and storing up bits and pieces for a post like this for several weeks now. We’ve been living in our new state for about three months now and things are slowing starting to feel more familiar. When we move–even if it’s not a big move, the focus usually goes to the house–getting settled, getting rid of all the boxes, figuring out where everything goes, and trying to make your new house a home. With the home taking so much the center of attention, sometimes we forget we need to settle little hearts too–and this can take some time.
I cringe a little when I’ve said we’ve just moved and people respond by saying, “kids are so resilient.” I mean, I guess they are–the won’t die from moving, but just because they’re little, doesn’t mean they don’t feel it too. We only lived in North Carolina for 3ish years, but when you think of it in terms of “Sophie Years,” that was over half of her life. That’s a lot. The impact of moving on a little person can be huge. Moving can create character and help mold people too, but I think it’s smart to proceed with caution and handle our little “resilient” people with much care during this time.
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Living in South Dakota with family for five months before moving into our house in Minnesota probably helped to lessen the blow–it was fun to be doted on and surrounded by family everyday. But then back to reality with just the six of us–new home, new state, new life–that was hard, and it still is hard some days. Moving is hard for everybody. As grown-ups, we can process things, journal, call friends–whatever we feel like we need to do to get through the hard days. But with kids, things can be a little more gray. Discovering they have different sleeping patterns or maybe outbursts or they’re quieter than normal–these are all things I’ve seen in my kids and these have made me realize all the more how I need to be there for them to help them adjust to this big move.
Let them talk and let me listen.
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I’m a fixer. I want to find the solution to the problem, like, yesterday and make it better. But sometimes I just need to listen and let things mend themselves. What they tell you about teenagers wanting to talk at night is true–they do. Be ready for some late bedtimes. It’s good though. Shifting conversations from what to name teddy bears to real, deep conversations with your kids is such a fun side-effect from the shift from little kid to big kid.
Set up kid bedrooms first.
A friend told me this tip long ago. Before the kitchen, before the bathrooms–unpack and set up the kids’ bedrooms. They need to see their things, sleep in their beds, touch their books. Being surrounded by their familiar things helps to put them at “home,” especially when “home” is sort of a foreign place at that time. Plus giving them their space first will give them someplace to be while you are busy unpacking the rest of the house.
Call, FaceTime, and write to old friends.
It’s hard to keep up with old friends and neighbors, but sometimes you’ve just got to make time for it. We left some amazing neighbors and friends in NC and we choose to take time for phone calls, texts, and notes in the mail. Kids love to get mail. It’s not hard to give them a card and have them write a note to their old friend. Sometimes it’s just what your kids need to know they still have their buddy, even though they’ve moved.
Give them lots of grace.
New time zones, new rooms, new everything can create some weirdness in your kids. For us, some of our kids have had different sleeping patterns or have stopped playing certain things they played in NC, but I think it’s all just part of adjusting. If we are as normal as we can be, things will return to normal. I’ve had to let many things slide these past few months because I know it’s just part of the repercussions of moving, and it’s hard and I get it.
Explore, explore, explore.
I love that we’re closer to family now. We’re still about five hours from our parents, but it’s a lot closer than 22 hours. Even though we have that familiarity of being closer to where we grew up, I still find myself homesick for NC. I miss the mountains and I miss being able to hop in the car for a weekend at the beach.
BUT no matter where you move, there’s a new list of “must-do’s” waiting for you. Here in Minneapolis, I have created a mental list of tons of stuff I want to do with my kids. We’ve already done so much and I really think that helps your kids adjust to a big move. Get them excited about where you live now. Check out new local restaurants, new parks, new shops, new bike trails. Research things to do in the area with kids. Try to do a couple new things every week and leave the boxes alone for a while.
This is my favorite thing about moving. Get excited about where you live–there’s something great about it, no matter where you live.
Know that it takes a lot of time.
This is probably more for you, mama.
I want my house to feel like home now. I want my kids to have best buddies now. I want to drive wherever I want without GPS now. But it’s impossible. Moving and getting really settled takes time. A long time. A good friend moved across the country the same time as us. She’s told me it’s going to take a whole year, at least. I believe her. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is your new legacy in your new digs–give it time. I’m speaking to myself…and you.
Thank you for this! We're in the middle (beginning?) of a big move ourselves. Dad has a new job in Wisconsin (near where he grew up) and the 4 kiddos and I are slowly making our way up from Florida. Thank you for the advice. It's not the first time I felt glad that I've come across your site. I needed a " big sister" about now 😀
Good advice. I also get annoyed when people talk about the resilience of children (I guess since I'm a children's advocate it just grates on my nerves). I think that this is a must-read post for any family planning a move.
I can remember when y'all moved to Asheville. One of my best friends recently moved there, and I miss her so much!
this is great.
you are doing your very best and that is pretty amazing,alicia.
i love how generous you are with the lessons you are learning and how quickly you process it.
quick enough to be able to share it with others real time.