I remember it like yesterday, although it was almost a year ago now…
The evening was a normal night around our house. We had just gone through the bedtime routine with the kids. We brushed teeth, read books, and gave kisses gooodnight.
The kids were all tucked in and I was ready to relax and vedge with my husband in front of the TV.
I was sitting there on the couch, getting ready to turn on the tube, when my husband looked at me and sat down.
He had a look in his eyes that as all too familiar.
He had news.
I knew there had been talk at his work about us moving again, so the next words out of his mouth weren’t all that surprising.
“We’re moving next year…”
Okay, no surprise there.
But, I was blindsided by the next two words.
My mind began racing, my heart was pounding. I took a sip of wine and thought, ALASKA!? We’re moving to Alaska? That’s kind of far away, don’t you think?!
But he wasn’t done yet…
“I’ve also been chosen to do a fellowship in Washington DC for the summer. We’re leaving here in June, spending the summer in DC, and then heading to Alaska in September.”
Another sip of wine. My heart raced, my palms got sweaty. That’s two moves in one year.
I immediately started making a mental list of everything that needed to be done, I started thinking about how we’d get there, and how we’d make the transition easier for our kids.
My Type A Mind went into overdrive sitting right there on the couch. So much for our relaxing evening.
Instead, I drank a glass or two of wine and tried to get my mind wrapped around the future of the next year.
A few months later the moving truck came, and we were off again on another adventure.
Moving isn’t anything new to us.
In our 9 year marriage, we moved across state lines 8 times, 6 of which we did with kids in tow, and our oldest is 5. Let that sink in.
The kids do pretty well when we move, but undoubtedly, they have more temper tantrums, more crying, more raw emotions.
It feels like we’re old pros, but no matter how many times we move, it’s stressful for all of us.
Moving is hard, there’s no way around that. But, we’ve discovered a few things that help us get through it without losing all our hair.
If you’re moving soon, take some tips from me.
Communicate and Make a Plan:
My husband and I must work together as a team.
Every day, before the work begins, make a good working plan on what need to be done and who’s in charge of the kids during certain times of the day. This insures that one of you can always focus on the task at hand, knowing the other one has the kids.
You can’t just expect the children to entertain themselves, especially young children, that just leads to anger, frustration, and kids playing in things they shouldn’t, like permanent markers (ask me how I know).
Being in charge of the kids doesn’t mean that you can’t get work done too. I often ask them to help, or set them up with independent activities. You’re just the designated parent during that time.
Sure, having kids in tow can slow you down, but soon you’ll switch off kid duty and you can get some kid-free time to really make progress on things.
Stay on a routine:
I’ve found that this is the #1 most important thing we do for our family. By keeping meal times and nap times the same every day, kids have some of normalcy in this time of change.
When life is in boxes and shambles, it’s comforting for kids to maintain their routine. All meal times, nap times, and transition times are exactly the same.
Plus, by staying on a routine, everyone has full tummies and good sleep, which keeps the family from getting hangry and mad at each other.
Ask for help:
When we moved to DC, we were lucky enough to have my husband’s sister volunteer to come help us out.
If you’re moving, trust me, you’ll need some kid free time to get all moved out. Do yourself a favor and ask for help if you need it.
I highly suggest asking a patient family member who will understand that your kids are going to be a bit nuts and who’ll love them anyway.
Most of the time we move without having any extra help, so it’s doable, but having another set of hands is such a blessing!
Hand Carry Some Toys
This is a biggie…take a box of toys with you in the car.
Let your kids decide what toys they’d like to take and have them available. Sometimes there’s a delay in getting your moving truck to your house (especially if it’s a long distance move) or you might be spending a few nights in a hotel.
So, for your sanity, take some toys.
Even if it’s a local move, having a few toys on hand will give your kids something to do until the rest of their things are unpacked.
Unpack the kids stuff first:
We always set up the playroom and the kid’s bedrooms first. This gives them a sense of normalcy and newness.
They have a place where they can go retreat if they need space, and that space is all theirs.
Also, it’s amazing how they’ll play for hours with toys that they haven’t seen in a while. This is great because it gives you time to unpack the rest of the house, while they stay occupied and happy.
Find family time:
When you’re moving, it feels like the work will never stop. There’s so much to do and usually only a short time to do it before heading back to work and real life.
You’ll feel the need to get your house livable as quickly as you can. No one wants to live with stacked up boxes forever!
Remember, your family still needs you too. I urge you take time to connect. Eat dinner together, even if it delivery pizza on an empty living room floor.
Find ways to goof off together or have the kids help you empty boxes.
Continue to fill up your child’s attachment tank and connect. This will keep your kids feelings loved and connected, which will help stave off negative attention seeking behaviors.
Give more hugs, find little snippits of time to play and laugh.
Moving is hard. It’s hard on everyone.
Kids are going to act out more than normal because when life gets nuts, behavior gets worse.
The whole family will be more emotional from the stress and changes. So, try to be forgiving and understanding.
Apologize quickly when you yell or get short tempered.
Take deep breaths, and remember that this is just temporary. Soon, you’ll be all moved in and back to normal life.
Most importantly, learn to forgive yourself if you’re not the best parent you can be right now.
This is not the time to be Super Mom.
On The Other Side
As I sit here, in our new home in Alaska, and think back over the past year, and I’m so grateful that we have systems in place for when we move. These few things make the whole thing a lot easier. Without being a team and having a plan, it could have been a terrible year.
Instead, it was one of the best years we’ve had.
We spent the summer in a little apartment in Washington DC where we visited some of the best museums and sights in our country.
After a few months, we packed everything up again and drove for a month across The US and Canada to Alaska.
The trip was amazing, and besides one really low moment on the top of a Canadian mountain where I screamed “I’M NOT HAVING FUN ANYMORE!!”, the stress was worth it.
In the end, we had amazing adventures, and we are stronger . We’re here, and we’re happy. That’s all that matters.
Now, who’s going to come over and help me unpack all these boxes?!