Relocating with children, no problem

box1As 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 box2moving 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.

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10 Responses to “Relocating with children, no problem”

  1. mandi @ it's come to this June 29, 2009 at 8:00 am #

    From another “Georgian” … welcome!! I hope you have a great move, it sounds like you’re preparing everyone the best you can, so I’m sure everyone will be just fine!

  2. Elaine K. June 29, 2009 at 4:22 pm #

    Karen,
    I just wish we had time for a “get together” before you left us up North. Sounds like you have it all together. Best of luck to you and the family.
    Elaine

  3. Ainssa Mayhew June 29, 2009 at 5:05 pm #

    Hey, Karen! Well, as you know, we moved just 3 weeks ago and it’s really just starting to settle in our brains.

    If you’d ever like to get together and let our kids have a play, let me know! I’m just SW of ATL, so drop me an email at anissa.mayhew@gmail.com.

    Best of luck getting settled in,
    Anissa

  4. Debbie T. June 30, 2009 at 8:14 am #

    Hi Karen,

    Sounds like you have it under control. I hope the move went smoothly and your family is starting to settle in.

    Best of luck to you,
    Debbie T.

  5. Tina July 1, 2009 at 8:42 am #

    Karen,
    Hope you are settling in to your beautiful new home and that the kiddos are adjusting well. Not to mention Mommy and Daddy! Send a new baby pic when you can! Tell A, and Daddy that we said hello.
    Love,
    T and B and baby

  6. Karen Hartzell, Graco July 10, 2009 at 12:14 pm #

    Everything has been going smoothly. Baby actually commented to me on the way up to be a few nights ago…”Mommy…this is the best new house ever.” It was too perfect for words.

    We also can’t wait for the next family visitors we can welcome. Lots of family have been checking out our new diggs and we are excited for more!

  7. LoveFeast Table July 22, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    Thanks for visiting us at our Table! We have 9 children between us and know first hand what it’s like to move and travel with all of them! We have even taken infants through Italy and to the top of the Duomo (I actually nursed my baby inside at the top!) Glad you are enjoying your new diggs! Kids tend to be the most flexible, it’s the adults who need the work…that’s why we took the espresso machine!
    Cheers!
    kristin

  8. Alvaro December 18, 2009 at 3:21 pm #

    What’s up?. Thanks a bunch for the info. I’ve been digging around looking some info up for shool, but there is so much out there. Yahoo lead me here – good for you i suppose! Keep up the great information. I will be coming back over here in a couple of days to see if there is any more info.

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    [...] what was best for my family.  I felt I was the one sacrificing everything, but in fact, we did move for my job.  DH had already sacrificed enough.  He deserved a fun summer vacation with his children, [...]

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