I woke up this morning and thought, “Where am I?” In the glazed stupor of having a new-ish baby, but then moving states – not once, but twice in the last year-and-a-half – it’s clear to me why my brain has become a messy jumble of misplaced locations and similar-looking highways that don’t in fact lead to the same place.
I’m pretty sure I always thought I would live next door to my parents and that while I am delighted by spontaneity and adventure, I do prefer a solid dose of predictability. It’s safe to say moving – especially across the country multiple times – does not offer predictably. And, I seem to keep getting further and further away from my parents.
Uprooting brings with it a host of issues – and some people deal with them better than others. For me – I ache for solid friendships, familiar routines, date nights, go-to breakfast spots, a favorite yoga teacher, the space and time to putz around our home decorating instead of overhauling it again, having the time and energy to fill in the kids’ journals.
Moving and reestablishing takes every last minute out of a regular day. So, instead of mornings spent making good breakfasts or working toward our dreams and goals, we’re packing and unpacking boxes, in a seemingly endless effort. It’s just hard to find the rhythm again.
I mean, this is moving with kids, right? Moving on your own is one thing, but now you’re not only taking care of your own needs (and clothes) you’re also making sure the road is less bumpy for a couple of little people too.
Some might say it’s simply a bumpy couple of months until you settle in again, but a few months is a big deal. Half of my 10-month-old’s life so far, for example. Being able to move with the swiftest ease means you get settled quicker which means you get back to doing the things you want to be doing. And, while I may be on my way to being able to offer some advice, my eyes would likely bug out if somebody asked me for packing advice right now. I do, though, know someone whose heart and soul has weathered the adjustments of moving a family to a new place and who has weathered it with grace and excitement and confidence because, why not embrace it?
My sister-in-law Melissa has moved so many times it would either break you or bring you really close together. I’m happy to say they are a super solid family unit – you can tell that their relationships with each other – between parents and children, between spouses, and between siblings – have grown strong because they weathered big changes together. They are as tight-knit as they come.
Since it’s summer, and ’tis the season for moving before school starts up again, I wanted to share Melissa’s thoughts with you in the hopes they help ease your transition to your new home, city, state, country. And, please, if you have any questions, post them and I’ll have Melissa follow-up. She’s ace at this sort of thing.
Moving the Family with Melissa Kissell
Over the last 19 1/2 years, we have moved nine times. Five moves were completed in two-and-a-half-years with two young children and a baby. I have learned that simplicity is best and to make each travel day an adventure. Life is an adventure. Think of the move as a long vacation.
What are the things you feel you have learned the most after multiple moves and that help when it comes to moving and settling in?
Making one room in the “leaving” house a DO NOT PACK room allows the kids, Doug and I to place and keep important things we want with us. Those items are not packed up into boxes. Instead, each child gets one lap-size Rubbermaid to put snacks, toys, pictures, and other special things to keep them happy. These containers have been with us since my oldest was four years old and he is now 18.
Always unpack the kitchen first. The heart of any home is around food. After unpacking the kitchen, the children’s rooms get completed. We always buy new items for bedrooms. It provides some excitement and helps with the transition of having a new bedroom. Children miss their rooms with every move, so we try not to mimic previous bedrooms because that leads to meltdowns.
What are some of the most difficult aspects of moving?
Some of the most difficult aspects of moving are finding our way around a new community, meeting families who understand our transient, military lifestyle, helping the kids register and prepare for a new school – my kids have attended six different school districts – locating the right church for our family and just being there for each other when one of us is crying, angry, scared, depressed or anxious. We all go through multiple emotions.
What are some tips you recommend for getting connected in your new community?
Tips I recommend for getting connected to a new community are:
- Contact the county and ask for a welcome packet. Most will mail you tons of information prior to moving
- Find a church
- Get involved with the schools
- Encourage your kids to choose some extracurricular activities
You and your family needed to move multiple times, with your kids at different ages and stages of their youth. Do you think there is a better or more difficult age for kids in terms of moving homes and changing communities?
When it comes down to moving, every child reacts differently. Based on our own family’s experiences, moving with younger children was always easier. Don’t get me wrong – there were still challenges, like stocking diapers and extra clothes. Don’t forget their favorite toy! Overall, younger children love to play. It’s much easier to set up play dates with a group of five-year-olds over a group of 13-year-olds.
How have you helped your kids with the transition, leading up to a big move?
Once we knew we were moving, we traveled on vacation to visit the area. Museums, parks, restaurants, sports venues, etc. were attractive to the kids. We talk about moving often and the lessons and experiences we can learn from moving to new locations.
What has seemed to be the hardest adjustment – is it friends, a new routine, a new school, a new bedroom?
The hardest adjustment for our children has been leaving friends. Friendships are special. Finding the BFF takes time. When you grow up moving often, you learn to teach your children to say, “See you later!” Never saying, “Goodbye,” is helpful. Goodbye comes across as a forever ending. “See you later,” helps the kids know that they’ll visit and keep in touch often.
I will say a new bedroom is hard too. New sounds, windows with different lighting and furniture arrangements do cause nighttime stress. The first four to six weeks have always been hard.
What are the best parts about a move and having a new city or town?
Moving can be very exciting. Every location has the good and the bad. It’s how you look at the whole picture that makes it special. We all have friends who live all over the world. Traveling and eating new foods is one of my family’s favorite parts of moving. A new city or town allows us to experience a long (three-to-seven-year!) vacation! We go to parks, try restaurants, meet locals at farmers markets. Everyone has a story, just some have longer or more chapters than others. Make it an adventure.
Thank you so much Melissa. I can’t agree enough on how important it is to make it all an adventure. Because, isn’t that the rule we are all realizing about life? That whatever you are doing that day, that moment, that week, that year – that’s your life baby, so enjoy it as much as you can. And, things are in actuality, still pretty great. You have your family, a house, a job. And, then, all of those things! you brought with you.
Bringing toys out of the garage was the most exciting couple of days for us – Rad would stand at the door with this look on his face that was brimming with excitement and say, “More toys?!” We took the opportunity to eat out a little more often than we usually would and enjoyed those meals out immensely. Every time we did something it was a new experience – new grocery store, new pediatrician, new weather! – and instead of stressing, we looked at it as a chance to discover.
And, I want to say again, if you have any questions for Melissa – a.k.a moving guru – please leave a comment below.
Happy travels my friends.