Some children have a “totally flexible” vibe. Doesn’t matter what you throw at them, it’s all a wonderful new adventure to enjoy, and they never look back. Never met a new food they didn’t like. They are comfortable wherever they go, and their transition from one activity to another takes about 5 seconds.
Well, I have HEARD there are children like this, but I’ve never parented one of them. I have four kids. None as described above. (As I write, I am recalling, say, arriving at their pre-school friends’ birthday parties, the tightening grip of their little hands in mine, their nails digging in to my skin, and their frenzied whisper, “Don’t leave!!!!”) My kids liked to be prepared for things, and took a little time to adjust to new situations.
If you have a child as described in the first paragraph, go ahead, go step out and get a latte. No need to take any time reading. (Your toddler is probably waiting to go zip-lining, anyway….) Moving with such a child may be a pretty simple process. But if your child’s nails have ever dug into your hand at the threshold of a new adventure, or if your child eats only PB&J for lunch (every single day), or if the washing of his beloved blanket is very rare/accompanied by wailing/mightily unpleasant, and is returned to a child who in despair notifies you that the clean blanket “smells wrong,” read on.
I’d like to suggest a book called NOW HOUSE TO NEW HOUSE. Don’t google it. You won’t find it. You will need to create it. (I just heard your deep, exhausted sigh.) I know if you’re under contract on a new house you are insanely busy as you prep for the move, and creating a book sounds like one thing too many to do. But it’s worth it. And if you are NOT yet under contract, and still house hunting or thinking of moving soon, you can do this at a leisurely pace. Sometime between making PB&J sandwiches number 5401 and 5402….
The book you create will be a record of your current home, and a bridge to the next. Lots of photos and some sentences or captions to recount how this house was a part of your lives.
Please know that when I am saying “create a book,” I am setting the bar very low. If your mind is already skittering off to the thousand gorgeous and glorious Pinterest-worthy ways you could produce and bind such a book, go for it. (I admire people who have your skills, but I lack those skills…in a somewhat dramatic way.) Your book can be Pinterest-worthy or it can be incredibly simple. The version I made for our kids when we moved was a cloth-bound journal into which I pasted photos and hand-wrote the narrative. See, the bar is not very high.
The idea is to go around and photograph the places in your house, so you have a visual record of what your home looked like, and felt like to live in. Take a picture of the fridge covered with all the soccer schedules and school papers it normally wears. Get a shot of the bedroom with an unmade bed…if it was typical for Jake to forget to make his bed. Show the table where you all had breakfast together, even if a corner of it is covered with yesterday’s mail. And in the captions/narrative feel free to joke about these “imperfections” that made your house, well, your house.
Be sure to snap photos of every room. And try to remember to grab images of places that are significant only for what happened there: the cozy window seat where Annie loved to read, the corner of the living room where the Christmas tree stood every year (even if there is no tree there now), the counter stool Adam always knelt on to bake cookies with mom, the bathtub full of floaty toys where Kelsey loved to play. Have you marked the kids’ increasing heights on the inside of a door somewhere? Definitely get that picture! And think of recording images from the yard as well: the place where the first crocus would come up each spring, the garden where some of you loved to plant tomatoes (and some of you loved to complain about worms), the sliding board ladder that Jonah had just gotten big enough to climb up himself.
Through the book, your son or daughter will still be able to feel a connection to what came before, while getting used to what is new. The last page of the book might be an exterior photo of the NEW house. Your writing in the book can help create a bridge between the two places, by overtly saying that the new house will be able to contain all the activities that made your house your home. You can say you look forward to Annie finding a wonderful new reading nook, choosing the spot for the Christmas tree, baking cookies in the shiny new oven, and waiting for the surprise of the crocuses announcing themselves in unexpected places next Spring. The place may change, but much about your lives together will stay the same.
Your child is apt to delight in a past that doesn’t vanish, and become enthusiastic about a future that already seems a bit familiar. The bedroom might be different. But Jake’s unmade bed?? That’s old news. And somehow it will help the new house feel like “home” very quickly.
On Facebook: Laurie Simon Goldman, Sibcy Cline Realtors