By Elaine Wilson, AFPS
July 16, 2010
Over the past couple of months, I’ve been trying to psych myself up for yet another move. My job is moving from the D.C. area to Fort Meade, Md., and I plan to go along for the ride. But after less than two years in the D.C. area, I was hesitant to broach the topic of a move to my kids, who had settled in and made close friends.
It seems like just yesterday that we journeyed here from Texas. I was pregnant at the time and my older two were 5 and 6. They were upset as we pulled away from San Antonio after spending most of their lives there. But after the initial tears, it was a three-day adventure across country, filled with music, movies and, unfortunately for me, quite a few “Are we there yets?” But we made it, and they adjusted with much greater ease than even my husband and I did.
I didn’t expect to be back in this position again so soon, but here I was, breaking the news.
I decided to avoid the sugar coating and opted to just blurt it out instead: “We’re moving to Maryland this summer,” I told them, steeling myself for the worst.
The kids looked at me for a minute with the look of confusion they normally reserve for one of my lectures.
Then, “Can we buy a house this time?” asked my 8-year-old daughter, who somehow has developed a bias against renting.
“Cool. Can we live near a pool?” my 6-year-old son said.
Obviously, my worry was a bit unfounded. Still, I know we’ll have some rough patches in the next couple of months. Explaining a move is much different than living the reality, filled with packing, cleaning out closets and bidding farewell to close friends.
I’ll certainly do my best to ease the process for them. To help prepare, I visited Military OneSource to see if I could find some pre-moving tips. Here’s what I found:
– Make sure that all family members take part in the move. If you send your children to a relative’s house on moving day, they may fail to grasp the reality of the move. Try to find a way for even very young children to take part in the move, even if it’s just for a very short period.
– Keep favorite toys or belongings where children can get to them during a move. After your children have packed their special travel bags or boxes, keep these accessible during the move — in the car you’ll drive or as carry-on luggage on the plane.
– Plan to have some new toys, games or activities for the trip. Depending on the ages of your children and how you are traveling, these might include story CDs, books, markers and paper, a journal, a magnetic board game, binoculars, and simple “sitting still” toys like magnets, magic tricks, dolls or cards.
– Ask a child to play “navigator.” Mark the route beforehand and let a child “lead” the way. Encourage all your children to help you look for landmarks that will help them get to know their new community — a park, a statue of a soldier, a funny sign or billboard.
– Pack some healthy snacks to eat along the way. It can be hard to find fresh fruit, raisins, nuts, cheese or even juice when you are on a long trip.
– Make the trip fun. If your move involves a long car trip, plan for fun stops along the way — a visit to a museum, a theme park, or some other attraction that’s on your route.
– Keep emergency medicines handy. The stress of moving can aggravate some diseases. If you or your child have any special health care needs such as diabetes, asthma, attention deficit disorder or frequent ear infections, make sure to bring special medications and equipment on the trip, even if you have not had any problems for a while. If your routine or emergency medications are due to expire, refill them before you move.
I also wanted to pass on a link to a DoDLive blog on summertime moving called “Family Focus: Making Busy Summer Move Season More Efficient.” The blog includes some great information for military families on the move this summer.
I’m on to the next step now: finding a house. I’ll keep you posted on new developments. And, since our military families, have so much experience with moving, I hope you don’t hesitate to write in with your moving tips and suggestions.
Wish me luck!