Monday, August 26, 2013


                                    Photo : Getty.
"After the movers leave, but before the boxes are unpacked, her four kids will bounce balls and laughter off the barren walls in games of keep-away or "wall ball". Soon enough, balls will be banished from the house, but in the meantime, this fun tradition gives the children something to look forward to and reinforces the fact that home is wherever the family is." says Jennifer McDonald, in JOCELYN GREEN'S article MOVING....AGAIN" in Focus on the Family's magazine "THRIVING FAMILY". Summer 2013.
Nowadays, more families move house more often than families did in our grandparents' generation. There are many reasons for this, including job transfers, downsizing for financial reasons, and the consequences of marriage and partner split ups.
The effect of moving house, particularly regularly moving house can be devastating. Children more than adults can suffer with loss of friends and family, familiar surroundings and lifestyle habits. Adults of course can be hurt by these changes, but adults are part of the decision to move. Children are not.
I know of some families who regardless of their many moves, have kids who seem little affected negatively.
Why is it then that some families that move a lot end up with troubled children, while others take it in their stride?
The difference comes from your attitude.
Jocelyn Green gives FIVE excellent practical ideas ~
1. "Brief the kids early"
Bring them in on your plans to move as early as possible so they too can prepare and say 'goodbye' to friends. Parents often give little thought to the fact that children can and need to do this in their own way, so they need time.
2. "Provide individual reassurance"
Love your kids more via their own Love Language over this period of time - Words of Affirmation/Gifts/Serving/Physical Touch/Quality Time. Here's where parents often are overwhelmed by the move and forget the kids need more love at this time of change. Children don't have the maturity or life experience that adults have, so they need help. Jocelyn rightly emphasises that it is vital to give this type of love to introverted children especially.
3. "Strengthen family ties and long-distance friendships"
With all the changes moving house brings, this is the time to deepen connections with family and friends whose relationships are important to our kids. Parents can do this by simply chatting about these people while working together with the kids. Children can also be parked at the computer on Skype or on the phone with grandparents, aunties and uncles and friends who are meaningful in their life and leave parents to do some uninterrupted packing. Continuing involvement with these important people and giving them access into our children's lives gives wonderful stability.
4. "Strategise at school" 
On arrival at the new location, the best plan is to establish links into the community and school. For example, if your child played tennis at the local club, join the new club straight away. The same should be done with school involvements, get them participating from the start. Preschoolers need connections set up immediately so there is the feeling of continuity. Some moves however, take people into a totally different culture or lifestyle to the one they left. In these cases it is important to discuss as much as possible with the children from the start, finding out information which assists them in looking at new options, so they are able to connect up smoothly. This is not always viable, but information gathering and discussions certainly prepare and help children adjust into new situations.
5. "Cultivate the constants"
Once in the new neighbourhood, maintain the normal patterns and routines of your family. This doesn't mean you can't do things differently because this is one of the exciting things about moving somewhere new. Choose to improve your time together, such as after eating a family meal, extend the together time by playing a quick game, sharing chocolate or toasting marshmallows around the fire, or soaking up the last of the sunshine together. As parents we can choose to make simple things into family times.
I would add two last points to the above list ~
6. Involve the children in as much as possible ~
If you are packing your own possessions in the move, bring the kids in on it. 
Older teenagers who drive can pickup packing boxes, dispose of the loads that need to be thrown away, vacuum and clean areas once they are cleared and organise and plan many aspects of the move. 
Younger teenagers can physically lift things, step into doing some of the routine washing and cooking while packing goes on, handle interruptions such as the phone.
After thoroughly looking through all a child's possessions with a parent,  a child from 5 years up can be given some responsibility to pack their own things. 
By making it a family team effort, the work load is shared.
Moving is one of those occasions where parents do well to take on the growing fashion of listening to everyone for any innovative ideas - then implementing the winning ones. You never know one of your own kids may have entrepreneurial skills.
7. Start early ~
It always takes longer than you expect. This way life doesn't have to 'shut down' the last week before you leave, you will prevent having a heart attack and will have space mentally and emotionally to farewell people properly.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ have a profitable time packing - I'm thinking of YOU Val!!

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