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How to Help a Friend During and After a Move

Yesterday’s post got me thinking about all the ways people helped my husband and me during and after our move. So, if you’ve had a girlfriend move recently, or you know she’s about to move, here are some ways to be a friend she’ll never forget:

 

1) Watch her kids.

Surprise! This is so helpful, however obvious it may seem, and its helpfulness cannot be downplayed. This not only gives your friend the uninterrupted time she needs to pack up that kitchen, it *really* helps the kiddos too. I had a couple of friends and family members who did this for me during our packing days and it saved my sanity (as well as my kids’).

2) Fix a meal for her family.

This is especially helpful that last night or two before the big day when she’s probably busy packing up all of her remaining kitchen items. One of my dear friends invited us to dinner the night before our move. This was absolutely heavenly. To be able to pack up all day, show up for dinner and get some sweet fellowship before heading home to  do more packing was a wonderful gift.

 

3) Collect your boxes for her and throw in a roll of tape or bubble wrap.

This one speaks for itself. And there’s never enough tape or bubble wrap. It seems boring, but she will love you forever, I promise.

 

4) Help her clean.

Odds are, your friend will want to spruce up the new place, no matter how clean her new home or apartment may be. Bring your iPod, a Sonic Cranberry-Limeade and go help her out. Not only will you get to help your friend, you’ll get one of the first tours of the new house! 🙂 Or better yet, help clean the old house after she’s already moved out. There’s nothing more tedious than going back and cleaning a place you’ve already had to emotionally leave behind. 

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5) Help them lift those boxes.

Or, be willing to stay home with your kids, and send your muscle-man to lift the boxes.

Or, hire a babysitter so that you can help too (yes, my sister-in-law actually did this, to my amazement!).

Moving day is one of the most exhausting of days! Come with open arms and maybe a cup of coffee. Again, she’ll love you forever.

 

6) Think of the things her family will need for their first night and morning.

We had one friend who offered to find the right washers for our new-to-us bed. We had no idea upon beginning to put it together that we didn’t have all the nuts and bolts we needed. Our friend literally went all over town, never could find the right washers and wound up buying some regular ones and literally pounding them into the correct shape for us (we were oblivious to all of this as we were still unloading boxes, or we would have never allowed him to go to so much trouble!). All because he knew we would want to crash that night. He will forever be a saint in my mind!

 

Bring muffins for the next morning’s breakfast and bring a gallon of milk and O.J. Odds are, your friend hasn’t thought much past getting into the house.

 

7) Leave something at the door to welcome them into their new home.

Or, if your friends are moving too far away, mail something to them ahead of time. There’s nothing like getting something from a friend in your new mailbox!

When we arrived at our new house in the U-haul, I quickly noticed a balloon and card waiting for us at the front door. I was pleasantly surprised, thinking it was the neighborhood Welcome Wagon’s doing. I soon discovered that one of my good friends had driven by our home the night before to leave us a “Welcome Home” card. If that’s not thoughtful, I don’t know what is.

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8) Help them with the yardwork.

If you *really* want to show your friends or family you love them, come bless the new place with its first mowing. I will never forget receiving a text from some loved ones the next morning, asking if they could bring their mower and come mow the already tall grass for us. Knowing we hadn’t bought a mower yet and that it would be a few days before we could do so, they saw a need and sacrificially came and prettied our yard for us. All I can say is, WOW. This still brings tears to my eyes every time I think of it.

 

8) Help her unpack.

The next time you visit, you may find that she’s moved things around as she’s learned her new house, but just getting things out of boxes (and breaking down the boxes) is so helpful and positively mind-clearing.

 

9) Send her a note a few weeks later.

Let her know you’re still thinking of her and that she hasn’t vanished from your heart and mind. Odds are, there are probably times she’ll feel you’ve moved on. Let her know you still love her.

 

10) Plan get-togethers (if you’re still in the same town).

Same as above. Your friend will need to know that friends are friends, no matter how far. Make the extra effort to still get together and encourage her to do the same. It will take a little extra work, but it will be worth it!

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If you have any ideas to add to the list, please feel free to add them to the comments! I’d love to have ideas tucked away for friends in the future!

And thanks to all of our amazing friends and family members who helped us during our move this summer. You guys humble me. And you ROCK my world.

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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!

 

 

 

 

On Moving and Making Friends

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The house is quiet. I stand under the quiet whirring of a fan, in a new bedroom, folding new towels, in a new house, on a new street, in a new neighborhood. The girls are actually sleeping, exhausted from all the transitioning, the hubby working from a room down the hall, keyboard clicking away. Over the home, I feel a peace and contentment. Over the neighborhood, I feel bit lonely, missing our old rendezvous at the trampoline and hearing all the kids traipsing through our old backyard, heading home from school, shoulders laden with backpacks and voices chattering through the trees. I wonder if we’ll ever have that here in this new place. I wrestle discouragement over how most neighbors in America wave from the mailbox, half hour conversations in the middle of the street not a usual occurrence like on our old lane.

 

I hear voices outside, outdoor crying breaking the slow hum of our afternoon. I glance out my upstairs window to find a toppled red tricycle in the street in front of our house, and a little girl holding her knee close, tears watering our grass. Big brother bends over her, his own bike quickly discarded nearby. My instinct tells me to run out, but I hesitate, not wanting to scare a tiny, hurt girl even more by some stranger running out of her house, coming to the “rescue.” I watch one more moment, but my Mama heart can tell, this is not some “just-let-me-gather-my-senses,” little-girl fall. Those wails are ones of boo-boos that definitely need band-aids. I throw my hesitancy, along with the half-folded towel upon the bed, and run down the stairs and out the front door.

 

Big brother looks up. He’s holding a thermos over little sister’s knee, washing off blood and dirt. My heart melts in the Tennessee sun. I introduce myself through the hurt tears and ask how close they live and if she’d like a bandaid? Brown, tear-filled eyes find strength to nod and I run in and out again with Lisa Franks and Neosporin.

She stops crying. 

“I didn’t know you had those bandaids,” little three-year-old girl says, pleased.

Yes,” I say, smiling that something like glaring pink and purple can make a little girl so happy.

“Yes, I have two little girls and they just love these bandaids. My oldest is almost 5 and my youngest is 2 and they’re just dying to meet a little girl like you. They’re sleeping right now because we just moved in and they’re pretty tired, but you come back any time you want and they’d just love to play.”

Her eyes light up and I think I’ve just met my first true friend of the neighborhood. My heart brims.

I am learning that life is a constant ebb and flow and nothing, save One, ever stays the same. Marriages, friendships, neighborhoods, day-to-day living, they all change as life’s web is spun to contain all our Creator wants to give us. Change is exciting. It’s hard. It’s scary. It’s fun. And even though things change, they don’t have to change for worse. We hold on to all that was, everything and everyone still a part of us, forever. And we open hands and arms wide, accepting all the Lord still has for us. Moving does not mean you let go. It just means you hold those you love from a different angle.