A Moving Experience
©SANDRA GLIGORIJEVIC I DREAMSTIME.COM
Do you want to add a little excitement to your life? How about a little more drama? I will never minimize the value of the mundane again. A family move has taught me that.
After living in the Central New York area for 10 years, our family moved in June when Alan accepted another teaching job at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. Although necessary, the decision to relocate was very difficult. As a family, we had grown some very deep roots in the Syracuse area, and it hurt to think of replanting ourselves in a new place, surrounded by new people. Raised as an Air Force brat, Kelly always thought she was experienced saying goodbye, but in reality it never gets easier.
The goodbyes were difficult for us and even harder to see our children struggle through them. Kelly remembers tucking our 6-year-old into bed soon after we learned we were moving, and hearing him say sleepily, “Mom, I have something to ask you. Can we take our stairs with us? How about my bedroom carpet?” When she said he couldn’t, he objected, “But my green carpet is magic, Mom. The monsters won’t get me if my bed is on it.” Kelly could have cried.
“Anything that is nailed down has to stay, honey,” she told him gently. “I bet your carpet in North Carolina will be magic, too.” He didn’t look convinced.
Kelly’s little bedtime conversation with Ethan got her thinking. Moving is a relative unknown for all of our children. We moved to Syracuse on the third birthday of Bronson, our oldest. Kelly realized that night that saying goodbye was only part of it; so is the whole aspect of the unknown to our children.
Will they make new friends? What will their new teachers be like? What about their schools? Will they like their new house? We addressed questions like these often during the last two months of our time in Central New York.
So, what are some tips that helped us through the move? Well, we started preparing our children by taking them out to a celebratory dinner when we made our announcement that we were moving. Nothing negative was said that night at the restaurant. It was all about pumping them up for the move. We were moving near grandparents. We would live within an hour and a half of the Outer Banks, where we could look for dolphins and seashells and play in the waves. There was great weather in North Carolina--no more snow boots or heavy coats. We could gorge ourselves on delicious Carolina barbecue. Anytime the conversation took a turn south, we quickly swung a U-turn into more positive territory.
That practice of being positive has followed us to our new community. Sure, the schools in Greenville are older and not as pristine as the schools we left in Liverpool, but no complaints were voiced about their condition . . .at least not in front of the children.
For the move itself, we aimed to be extremely prepared, so that we would add minimal last-second craziness to the normal stress of the effort. A blue accordion folder held all the essential documents we would need to transfer schools, close on our new house, get new driver’s licenses, etc. That little bit of organization saved a lot of insane running around that would have compounded our children’s nervousness about moving
Also, we packed most of the house ourselves, and we did so in a very calculated manner. We left up photos and pictures on the main level as long as we could. We didn’t pack toys or things the kids relied on for a cozy, comfortable home until the last possible second. The very day we took our pictures and photos off the wall, we started getting reports that Holden, our autistic son, was beginning to have meltdowns in school. We could have predicted that. As visual as our son is, to not see the pictures and photos he had grown so accustomed to was the straw that broke the camel’s back. If we would have removed them earlier, we are convinced he would have had several bad weeks in school, instead of a few bad days.
We also set aside precious time during our last few weeks to ensure that each child who wanted one had a goodbye party with his or her friends, and we tried to make those times as special as we could. (A special thank you to the friends who invited our children over for little goodbyes and last play dates. Those times meant so much to our children.) In providing these last social experiences, we hoped our children would pack away some happy memories in their emotional baggage, so when they felt lonely or sad they could pull them out and remember good times with their loved ones in Liverpool.
Lastly, we set up each of the older children with an e-mail account. One of the first things they asked for when we moved to Greenville was the Internet, so they could touch bases with friends. Both our 13-year-old and our 9-year-old get daily e-mails and feel very connected to the circle of friends they left behind. Kelly has also gotten a lot of pleasure from e-mailing her old friends and finding out their new news. Thank goodness for the Internet!
Finally, after selling our house, watching our Honda die and put to rest in Hazleton, Pa., en route (may she rest in peace!), buying a new car AND a new house within a week of each other, saying many tearful goodbyes and as many hopeful hellos, we are looking forward to a little down time. Resting on our white porch swing, sipping a little lemonade and directing a search for a new magic carpet sounds pretty wonderful just about now.
Alan and Kelly Taylor and their five children recently moved from their Liverpool home of 10 years to Greenville, N.C. Kelly holds a master’s degree in family studies; Alan is a newly appointed assistant professor in the Department of Child Development and Family Relations at East Carolina University. To comment on this article, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.