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Helping Children’s Hearts During and After a Move

As some of you know, we moved across town this summer. Some of you might think, “No big deal, right?” Well, you have to understand that we live in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. Our topography causes very distinct communities, simply because of, well, the mountains and ridges. We only moved 35 minutes away, but because of our area, there are times this feels like it might as well be 2 hours. It’s sort of frustrating actually. No one meant any harm when we told people where we were moving, but there were several times when we told friends and neighbors where our new home would be and we received several exclamations of “Where is that????” Ummm . . . same little town, same city limits. Just a hop, skip, and a jump. :)

 

I’ve lived in 11 houses in my lifetime. That’s a small number compared to my Army Brat friends, but I’d say that’s a fair amount of moving in a 29-year-old’s life. Most of the moves were pretty exciting to be honest (the ones I remember), except for the one when I was 8. I survived. I made new friends. But for awhile there, I was devastated. I missed my best friend like nobody’s business. Looking back on some of the things I struggled with during that phase of my life, I’ve wondered how many of those struggles were my way of trying to cope. 

 

Needless to say, as excited as I was about buying our first home earlier this year, I was very nervous for my children. We lived on a Mayberry-type of street where the neighborhood kids had sleepovers and stayed up late catching fireflies together. It was so hard to leave.

 

But looking back over the summer, I feel the Lord helped me help my kids in little ways . . . ways I wasn’t even aware. And there were other things I’ve learned by trial and error. 

 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about kids and moves, it’s this:

Moves are HARD. But kids are wonderfully adaptive. 

 

Even so, there are ways that we can help them adapt. If you’ve just moved, you’re about to move, or you know someone in either of those situations, here may be a few helpful tips. :)

 

1) Allow your children to say goodbye to their old house. Or maybe not.

I had grand plans of a “last night in the old place” when we moved. This completely went out the window. The kids wound up staying at their grandparents’ in order for my husband and I to keep our sanity and start moving early the next morning. However, the kids did say goodbye to the old place a little at time as we came back to clean the old house, etc. I really think God stepped in and chucked my plans for my children’s benefit. They had fun with their step-grandma and there were no sentimental sobs from me  them the night before.

 

2) Allow them to come home to something new.

When our kids got to our new place, the littlest one’s crib had magically transformed into a TODDLER BED! This was a last minute decision on my part, but again, I truly believe it was the Lord’s leading. Let me tell you, when she got to the new place, she knew she was big. stuff. I was afraid it might be too much change all at once, but it wasn’t! It seems to have been the perfect transition for her.

 

3) Begin new traditions.

Some of you are going to gasp and shake your heads at me on this one. But after our move, we were within about 7 minutes to a Dunkin Donuts. I quickly declared a Sunday-morning-Dunkin-Donuts tradition. So for a few weeks, off and on, on Saturday nights, I would come home with a box full of donuts to be saved until the next morning’s breakfast. I think we all dreamed of donuts those Saturday nights. :) No they’re not healthy, and yes, I’ve cut back drastically on this tradition, but it was a good way to help all of us enjoy our new area and some of it’s “perks”. :)

 

4) Explore. 

This one’s obvious and I wish we’d done more of this over the summer. Just explore your area. Learn the new parks, figure out your new library storytimes, or whatever your routines were before. Things and places will be different, but different is not always bad. You’ll either appreciate what you had in a whole new light, or you’ll love what you have now. 

 

5) A change of pace.

I found that after our move, I was much more laid back about our “schedule.” This may have been because it was summer, it may have been because we didn’t know anyone close by, but suddenly, we were up late reading bedtime stories and playing longer outside before rest times. Some might argue that structure would better help children during such a transition, but I beg to differ on this one. I was more relaxed with our already-made structure, therefore, they were more relaxed and we were having fun. It almost felt like we were on a vacation there for a while.

 

6) Surround your children with steady relationships.

I knew that our move would change my children’s relationships (as well as my own). Thankfully, we are just across town and we can still see our friends, but then again, we’re across town. I had no idea how much friendships would change, if at all. Thankfully, we have a few cousins and more than enough aunts and uncles to go around, so we’ve tried to make sure our kids have gotten some extra family time. Family’s family and you’re stuck for life, so if you’re blessed to have family around, surround yourselves with relationships you know you’ll always have, no matter what. :) There is a sense of security in family (for the most part -winky face-).

 

7) If you are moving “only” across town, plan playdates.

If you don’t plan them, they don’t happen as spontaneously as they once did. I feel like I was fairly good about this during the first few weeks of our move and then other things got really busy and I dropped the ball. All of a sudden, I was seeing a lot of moodiness in my oldest and one day it suddenly hit me, “Oh, she misses her friends.” This is a hard thing for a mom to realize. :( I hope to be better about planning fun times with friends in the coming weeks.

 

8) Be proactive about finding nearby friends.

When you feel like you’ve already got a good friend “network” on the other side of town, sometimes it’s hard not to just go back to that safe, wonderful place for everything!!! But I also know that my kids desperately need friends just down the street too. Before you leave that park, or that playplace, take a big, nervous gulp and ask that new momma friend for her number. Your kids might be really glad you did. And maybe even you will be too.

 

9) Let your children find their own way in making friends.

Thankfully, my kids are young and it’s easier to make friends when we’re younger, right? I think their minds literally think,  “Ooh, she’s wearing a purple shirt and sparkly shoes, she’s my new BFF!!!!” Then, after watching them play with the sparkly-shoed girl for half an hour, you ask your child what their new friend’s name is. They answer, “Huh? Oh, I don’t know, but she lost a tooth when she was four and she knows how to do a handstand with her tongue sticking out!” =D

 

The Sunday morning after we moved into our new place, my oldest woke up at 7 a.m. and immediately asked if she could knock on every door in the neighborhood and ask each house whether they had a little girl she could play with. {Sigh} This made me laugh and broke my heart all at the same time. Well, I didn’t let her go through with this plan at that very moment (it being 7 o’ clock on a Sunday morning and all), but a few days later, we were outside and she begged and begged for me to allow her to go to our neighbor’s house and ask if there was a little girl who lived there. I knew there wasn’t. But, by God’s grace, I said yes anyway. So off she went. She resolutely knocked on that door and repeated her question several times to our apparently hard-of-hearing neighbor. No, there wasn’t a little girl there, but my brave girl took a sure step in, I’m sure, finding a good girlfriend eventually.

 

10) Last, but not least, PRAY.

I think that whether we’ve just moved or whether we’ve been in the same neighborhood for 10 years, we all want our children surrounded by good, loving, level-headed friends. This is not something we can control. Only God can cross paths and bring the right people into our lives and into our children’s lives and then fuse hearts together. I truly believe that if our children are surrounded by friends who love the Lord, half of our teenage battles are already won. So, I know I want to be more diligent in praying for my children’s friendships. I want to be friends with their friends (not in the weird way that some parents are, but in the “I’m-interested-in-you-and-in-your-life” sort of way). Where healthy relationships are, healthy lives usually follow.

 

So, that’s it for now! This is a subject near and dear to my heart, so happy moving to you and yours!

 

 

 

 

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2 responses »

  1. This is good information, Audra.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, friend!

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