A week ago, we began the stressful process of moving to another state. In several ways, this is a major move for our entire family. There have been many emotions, challenges, and blessings throughout the process. I have taken note of things I will do the same way again and things I would like to handle differently.
I decided to turn these thoughts into tips for moving with young children, with the hope of helping those of you who are preparing to move or thinking about moving. It is challenging enough if it is just you or you and your husband. Throw in the dynamics of having a child or children and it gets even more stressful!
Keep in mind that since we were moving with the Army, we did have a moving company pack us up and move us. Everything took place within days. While it was a blessing to be relieved of the burden of packing and moving ourselves, I have found this more stressful than the moves we have done on our own. Nothing about the move was on our timetable. We were at the mercy of the moving company and the Army. If you ever move, these tips may help you keep your sanity:
1. Plan meals for the transition time beforehand.
It can get tricky trying to think about meals when you know people will be in and out of your house over a period of a few days. I decided ahead of time to get subs for our packers and our family for lunch and pizza the next day. Friends had us over for dinner one night and another set made us a meal for a night. Once we moved, people brought us meals, I had meals in the freezer, and I had groceries to make simple meals.
If you can prepare meals ahead of time, this would be ideal, but ultimately, a peaceful household in the midst of such a stressful time was my top priority. We don’t usually eat out, but we sought to make wise choices the few times we did.
2. Try to maintain some semblance of routine for your children.
This is tricky and I don’t feel like I did a good job of this. Even if it’s just simple meal-time and bedtime routines, it does help tremendously!
3. Recruit help from friends. Be specific about the kind of help you want or need.
When packers were at our house, I did laundry at a friend’s house and my baby also napped there. She watched him for a little after he awoke so that I could also care for Tara.
Once we moved in, help with unpacking boxes was not high on my priority list. The most important thing to us was having family bring food for our movers on moving day.
4. If you are moving close to family, communicate your desires and plans ahead of time, firmly and kindly. And stick to what you communicate.
Moving close to family is both a blessing and a challenge. The good intentions of others don’t always mesh well with a family in transition. I had to make a decision, since my husband had to travel the day after we moved in, to set up boundaries for this week with extended family. Talking about and setting up boundaries with the extended family can be difficult, but I know I needed to do what is best for my immediate family. Evaluate the needs of your family during vulnerable and stressful times of transition, and employ specific help from or set up specific boundaries with extended family as they are willing or as your situation warrants.
5. Keep your priorities straight.
During every process of the move, my children demonstrated needs for quality time, boundaries, and discipline. Discipline was the hardest while people were in my house packing, loading, and then unloading. However, once they all left, I realized that my new priority need not be to un-pack boxes, but to tend to my children’s souls. This means my house, five days after moving, is still full of boxes! But, our home is more peaceful for it and I am okay with the boxes. I care the most about the condition of their hearts.
Our house is still covered in boxes, but I’m finding that the straighter my priorities are, the more productive I am! I hope these tips help you if you find yourself preparing for a future move!