It was the week after Christmas. We had celebrated the holidays, said, “Good Bye” to the staff and congregation at the church where I had served as educator on the staff, sent in all of the change of address forms. We were downsizing to a small married student housing apartment so we did not need to pack furniture yet a lot was required. I was deep cleaning our house so our renter, my mother, could move in. And I was really feeling grouchy! It was all I could do not to snap at my family members.
This was not acceptable to me. I did not want our children to experience this as an unhappy event. After all we had a lot to look forward to. We were going to live on the very supportive Scarritt College campus with students from around the world and outstanding faculty. We loved the thought of living in Nashville where there were cultural events for all ages.
We made to Nashville; some things went very well and I would have done some things differently.
What went well?
- We prepared the children for the move sharing why we were moving and the benefits of my returning to graduate school.
- We were very organized, unpacking quickly and making the place as much like home as possible. Boxes and paper were taken away immediately. Beds were made the first night.
- We ventured out to a new place of worship on our first Sunday, after snow had fallen. My husband had returned to Florida. I had never driven in snow but we made it! That was an important tradition.
- We immediately became friends with other families with children, including a family in our apartment building.
- We were able to enroll our daughter in an excellent church related preschool within the first 3 weeks.
- We enrolled our son in Cub Scouts right away so he could continue in this program.
What would I have done differently?
- I would have asked for more help in preparing for the move. We “did it all,” except for having had family who “watched the children”. Even with a small move there is a huge amount of work. However, I would have been less worn out if I had had help with house work and packing. I did most of the packing since my time was more flexible.
- I would have given my resignation earlier so I would have had more rest. One working parent was enough at this time.
- I would have made different arrangements for our daughter’s day care during the first 3 weeks after we moved. I was unhappy about some of the aspects of her day care center; she was nearby and only attended part time. However, I know my uneasiness did not help her transition there although she loved her church preschool.
- I would consider not moving during midyear; small group relationships have been made, at school, at church, in scouting groups. This meant our children needed to enter into established groups and make a place for themselves. However I recognize that we live in a transitional society. Perhaps this was a better age for them to move than if it had been in high school. Later on we made the move to seminary when our son was going into his senior year in high school. He decided to stay in our city, living with friends, and grew in many ways during this year apart.
Prior to writing this I asked other people who had moved often with children what they had done to help make the move go well. They shared the following.
- During the packing process, do only what is necessary. For instance, eat out when possible.
- Provide opportunities for everyone to say “Goodbye’ to friends and get the friend’s addresses, including email addresses.
- Assure your children that they will make friends at their new home, for this loss seems to concern us even more during the holidays.
- Observe your nightly rituals and holiday traditions, whether or not you are staying in temporary quarters such as a hotel or an apartment and, yes, let them know that Santa Claus is aware of their location on Christmas Eve, wherever you may be.
Ann R. Hutchens, MDIV, CRTS, President
Certified Relocation and Transition Specialist (CRTS)
Serving Greater Central Florida, including Orange, Seminole, Lake, Osceola, Polk, Brevard and Volusia Counties
OFFICE NUMBERS: 407-699-5600; 888-973-3335(Toll Free);
FAX: 866- 943-9955
Member: National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO)
National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM)