Last night, Adam went to see Men in Black 3 and I stayed home and watched We Bought a Zoo. I'd been wanting to see this movie and now find myself obsessed with Benjamin Mee and his landmark 20 seconds of insane courage.
There was something inspiring about the idea of walking into a place and knowing "Yes, it's crazy to the rest of the world... but THIS is what we're supposed to do."
I can relate.
After all, it's not everyone who makes a big move three summers in a row.
To tell you I'm all fine and dandy with it would be a lie. Even in the knowing, there is still sadness. Even in the excitement, there is still grief. I drive down our Colorado street now and fall in love with our little town all over again... and I find myself whispering prayers asking God to make this easier, to make all decisions clear.
And I believe, in time, he will.
But what about the kids?
In three years, mine have had three different schools and are preparing to go back to their first one. Forget 20 seconds of insane courage...to me, these kids have had months of it.
Change is inevitable...when it comes, how can you make it easier on your kids?
Here are seven ways:
1. Talk to them about how you feel about the move. And be honest. You may be tempted to "put on a brave face" for them. Don't. They need to know they aren't the only ones with a weak stomach when they think about making such a huge life change. Tell them what you'll miss. Tell them why it makes you sad. Then spend some time talking about all the reasons you're excited. In "We Bought a Zoo," Benjamin Mee had a sense of adventure...tap into your inner explorer and get ready for the ride of your life!
2. Pick a day and go do all the things they want to do before you move. We keep thinking of things we want to do before we move away from Loveland, but what do your kids want to do before you move? Even if it's "We should go out to Jumpin'" (a big open space with tons of inflatables)...let them do it. And make it fun!
3. Let them get an email account. While it's awfully daunting to have your kids online, there are some really great things about allowing them to have an email account. We let Sophia get an account, but we require that she gives us the password. More than once I've read her email. She knows whatever she writes at this point is fair game. It's worth it for her to be able to maintain friendships with kids at her various schools.
4. When you arrive in the new place, take them in early to tour the school and meet their teacher. Part of what's hard for me with this move is that we LOVE our kids' school. On the last day, they broke ground for a building expansion and Sophia was one of three kids chosen to give a speech.
They've truly thrived here. Spiritually, the school has been amazing. I've seen so much growth and encouragement, and I don't think they felt like the "new kid" for more than a day. Before school started, I took them both in for a tour, they met their teachers and even saw photos of some of the kids in their class. It really helped.
5. Make the actual trip fun. My kids know we have a 16 hour drive to get back to Illinois and they claim if we can go to "the hotel with the waterpark" that will make everything better. Might as well give it a try.
6. Be especially in tune with their (mis)behavior. When we first told Ethan about our move, he acted very nonchalant about it. Sophia took it all in stride, but Ethan started getting in trouble at school. At first, I was kind of hard on him, but then it dawned on me that this wasn't about him misbehaving...this was about the emotions he couldn't process. Be more aware than ever... you don't know HOW a child is going to react to change until you see it. Don't let them get away with their bad behavior, but be there for hugging, talking, random ice cream trips. It's okay every now and then to be a softie.
7. Throw them a party. I know it may seem indulgent, but a going away party with all their friends is a GREAT idea. Take lots of pictures and let them have a guest book to record addresses, emails and well wishes. I admit, this is going to be really difficult given all that we have to do in the next month, but I think it's worth it.
Also, as a bonus, don't make promises if you can't keep them. Don't promise to visit the place you're leaving "every summer" unless you're sure you can. Kids will remember.
Now...does anyone have any advice on making this easier for grown-ups? I'm all ears.