As some of you may already know, I am one of many Graco employees who have accepted an offer to relocate to Atlanta. I was immediately excited about the possibility of a move outside the state I have lived in since I was two years old. Then it hit me. How will this affect my family? I could go into how DH reacted to the news, but that’s another post for another time, and if you follow me on Twitter you may already have heard too many details.
Since Jed is only 5 months old, I am pretty sure he will adjust easily. If I keep his belly full and his pants dry, he’s a happy boy. Baby on the other hand is four and a half. I have no experience in relocating, especially with a child old enough to know we are moving! Would she understand what was happening? Would she be upset about leaving her current preschool and friends? Everything she knew would soon be changing and I was wading into unknown waters on how to prepare her for it.
I thought back to how Baby reacted when DH and I first went to Atlanta for three days last year. It was the first time we left her alone with the grandparents for three whole days. We made a huge mistake of not explaining (in three year old language) that Mommy and Daddy were going away for a short trip and would be back. BACK being the optimal word here of course. We took for granted she would just be occupied enough not to miss us and be her normal happy self. We were wrong. Baby had a very rough three days missing “the red house” and asked repeatedly to go home. She wanted Mommy and Daddy and we weren’t there. It broke my heart to learn of the level of anxiety my first born had while we were gone. How would she ever deal with the relocation process?
I created a plan to introduce Baby to moving one step at a time. First we worked back up to staying overnight at the grandparents houses again. She regressed after the Atlanta trip and wouldn’t stay anywhere without us. We even had an issue on vacation when she did not want to sleep in the house we rented for the week at the beach. Oy!
Once Baby was comfortable with overnight visits again, we presented the idea of Mommy and Daddy taking a trip for a few days. We talked about where we were going and when we would be back. This time we also arranged for the grandparents to stay at our house with the kids. Baby was more secure in her own surroundings and the house hunting trip for DH and I went off without a hitch.
As the months passed, the more DH and I talked about Georgia, the more Baby came to understand about eventually moving. We made sure to stress we ALL were moving to Georgia as a family. Baby would list our immediate family members so we all knew who was going to Georgia. Always followed by the adorable question…”Is Jed moving too?” We showed her pictures of the new house. We talked about the big truck coming to move our belongings. Baby was also able to decide what small toys she wanted to take in the car versus what would go in the big truck. She was even thoughtful enough to make sure Jed’s favorite blanket bear was on the car list. Baby spoke tirelessly of painting her new bedroom pink and of planting tomato plants in our new backyard. Focusing on small details on how Baby’s life would change, but also stay the same, made the transition easier for all of us. Hearing Baby
repeatedly excitedly ask if we were moving to Georgia tomorrow every day for about a week before the actual move, was enough to reassure me that we had prepared her well for the family adventure. If you have any tips to share on how you prepared your child for a big transition, I would love to hear them. I am pretty sure this family has a lot more adventures ahead, and I could use all the help I can get.