Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Dos And Don'ts of Moving With Young Kids

Tomorrow, my family and I will celebrate one week in our new home!  One week!  Oh, but this means so much more than it looks right now as I read it on my computer screen.  Let's be real, though. It's been 20 days since we've begun this journey we call moving. (I won't count the five weeks of preparation that preceded said move.)  

In between several meltdowns this week, many of my friends have quoted to me that moving is one of the top stresses in life.  And I've found that to be quite true.  Especially with two little ones in tow.  So I want to share a little of what I learned and help anyone else out there who may one day make a move with one or two or more of their young children.  Help me, help you. 

*This written for a move requiring a relocation by car more than five hours from where you were living, with no family (moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles) in either location, and on a smart family budget. 

DON'T have your kids around on moving day.  Hire a babysitter on moving day. This may change the whole stress level of your entire move.  Had we hired a babysitter or even sent our kiddos to a friend's house that last day, we could've saved many tears and changed the tone of the move.  No matter how much you think you've done to be ahead of schedule, there is just so much to do that last day.  It isn't fair to your kids, to have them hang around with no chance of staying "out of the way" the entire day...much less an hour.  I can almost guarantee you'll also get double the amount of packing, loading and cleaning done without having them at your feet.  

DO explain to your kids in advance that you will be moving soon so that they have time to get used to the idea (as much as they can in their little minds).  This will also give them a better understanding of the big picture when it comes time to say good-bye to their friends.  If you're moving to a new state, buy a book about that state and be excited about the new place when you read it.  Share with your child all the cool things you know about the new place, including pictures of your new house if you have them. 

DO take your time on the drive. Roll the windows down (if it's nice, of course) and crank up some good ol' James Taylor and enjoy the drive.  Stop every couple of hours and let your kids run around.  I have a friend who advised to stop for lunch at a place with a playland and let the kids run wild.  Then have them eat in the car.  You get a little break and they get some much-needed fun.  And this may result in a nice long nap for them!

DON'T let your kids see you sweat.  You will be stressed throughout your move. You will want to snap at your children when your mind is running down the list of one million things you need to do in a short amount of time in order to get settled.  But you've got time.  Make a list of what needs to be done and set each with a priority level.  Some things really don't need to be done right away.  Some things do.  Decide and stay cool!

DO take time each day that you're settling to get the kids out of the house.  Whether its to the local playground or out for an ice cream cone. I know you want to stay inside and get things done, but you will appreciate the break too.  And their smiles will make it worth it!

DON'T worry if you want to fall asleep at 8:00pm instead of staying up past their bedtime to get even more done.  Sleep.  Everything will still be there tomorrow and you'll be better off if you do!

DO make sure you keep their favorite comfort item with them the entire way from the last packing day, the road trip, the hotel stay and move-in day.  Whenever they get a little insecure or nervous about all the change, they'll know that not everything is changing.

DON'T feel bad if you are feeling so much on your shoulders! Take a deep breath.  Take it one day at a time.  You will be settled soon enough. 

DO kiss and hug and cuddle your children often through this journey. Make them smile and laugh.  Remind them that you love them and that you are not going will always be by their side!

DO get out and have fun as a family that first night. Celebrate! Remember, this is an exciting new adventure!

DO call your friends and cry to them when you are feeling overwhelmed.  If your friends* are anything like mine, you will feel 100% relieved after you talk to them and it'll save your husband and your kids from seeing you upset!

And finally, and maybe most importantly...

DO have lots of wine on hand.  If you need a glass at naptime, so be it.  If a glass at 4pm right before the hubs gets home from work, go for it.  You will be amazed at how one glass of wine can take your stress level from a raging 10 to a happy and mellow 2.  

*For all of you who have listened to me this week, who are always there for me, I thank you and love you!