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Whether you’re welcoming a new baby into the home, or planning a big move, here are a few tips to help prepare your family for any type of change.
Being a military wife, I learned very quickly that the only thing that is constant, is change. We move often, say goodbye too many times, and accept that in a blink of an eye, anything can happen. You’d think that living this lifestyle for so many years, moving would be a piece of cake- but it’s not.
When we received orders to Guam last summer, I couldn’t help but feel a flood of emotions. Depending on the day, I was either scared and nervous, or excited and optimistic. While the entire process was overwhelming, my biggest concern was how well my children would cope. I am no expert when it comes to this stuff, but these tips have helped my children make a smooth transition.
Talk About It Early
We shared the news with our children the moment it was final. While this is not always an option, the extra time allowed us to address all of my son’s questions and concerns. We were able to research the island, and plan future family excursions. Having something to look forward to brought feelings of excitement and anticipation. Also, having a subscription to Little Passports helped B prepare for the big move. Not only was he able to see the distance from Guam to grandmas house, but it opened his eyes to what experiencing a different culture meant.
Recognize Their Emotions
During this time, there are many different and unfamiliar emotions. Before the move I remember my son feeling down and sad one moment, then extremely excited the next. Children most often seek their parents approval, so B felt that he shouldn’t be upset or sad about our move. I had to constantly reassure him that it’s ok to miss your friends, and it’s ok to have these negative feelings. That even as an adult, I would miss my friends too. Recognizing their different emotions, normalizes their feelings.
This was especially important to us, considering many changes took place prior to the move. About a month and a half before the big day, our household goods were shipped and Ben had to leave for training in Hawaii. Here I was alone with both kids, in a house with nothing but an air mattress, card table and lawn chairs. For my sanity, and theirs, we stuck to our same routine. We ate meals at the small table we had, read books before bed, and enjoyed our weekend movie night. Doing so enforced that regardless of our situation, we were doing it as a family.
Every situation is what you make of it. So regardless of how you may be feeling, if you demonstrate a positive attitude, your children will me more inclined to follow. I’m not perfect, and there were times when the stress and anxiety got to me. But in those moments, I would separate myself, take a deep breath and remember how my emotions affect my children. We started to make a Guam bucket list of places we wanted to visit, activities we wanted to do and attractions we wanted to see. We even made a DIY Pen Pal Kit for his cousins to keep in touch. Doing so allowed B to feel more apart of the process, rather than feeling like he had no voice.
Give It Time
Finally, the move is over and most of the stress and anxiety has subsided. But this is just the beginning. Everything in their little world has completely changed. A new home, a new neighborhood, a new school- the list goes on. Adjusting will take time for everybody. We put a lot of emphasis on features our new environment has, for example a park right across the street! Or the fact that we live 5 minutes from the beach.
Helping a child through a difficult transition is a challenging task. There were numerous times when I felt like a horrible mother, and had questioned our decision. I cried often, hugged my kids too much, and drank a lot of wine! But with lots of love and patience, you can guide your children through whatever transition is at hand. Use this time to come together, lean on one another, and I guarantee you will grow stronger as a family.