Surviving the Big Move with Kids

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by Kelcey Kintner

When you’re an adult and child free, moving can be pretty horrible. The boxes, all the stuff and feeling like the move is sucking every last dollar out of you. But add kids to the mix, and it reaches a whole new level of torture.

It’s difficult when they are young and you can’t figure out what to do with them while you pack and unpack. But at least the toddler set doesn’t usually mind too much when you relocate to a new town or state. My 3-year-old just sort of wondered where the old house went. But as kids get a little older, things can get kind of sticky.

They have friends. They have routines. They have favorite teachers.

Three months ago, we moved from New York to Florida. I have two daughters in elementary school (1st and 3rd grade) and I just did not anticipate the level of longing for their old lives. The first week of school, my girls came home crying every day.

I didn’t know what to do. At first, I was sunshine Suzy. I kept chanting, “But Florida is so sunny! And you can swim every day! And you can go outside all year!”

It didn’t work at all. Suddenly, they were sledding enthusiasts although I distinctly remember them wanting to sled for about 3 minutes in the cold. They missed everything about our former town, even an old coffee table that had sat idle in our basement for 4 years.

What I really needed to do was honor their feelings. They needed to be heard. So sunshine Suzy went away and I let them vent. I told them I missed my friends too. And then I just kept them busy with play dates, special trips to the frozen yogurt store and a little extra Austin & Ally. Hey, look girls, it’s filmed in Miami!

They even convinced me to paint their room pink. I just couldn’t say no to, “But mom, you made us move so far from our friends. Can’t you at least let us pick the color of our room?” Strong work girls. Their room is now pink.

In the end, what they needed most of all, was time.  Time to make a few friends and get comfortable. Three months in, are they completed adjusted? No. One of my daughters still misses her best friend. And she finds her new school too strict with uniforms and not enough recess time. She says she would still move back to New York in a second. 20 degree weather and all.

But are they much happier? Absolutely. The other day, I was convinced one of my daughters had eaten way too much candy because she was crazy hyper, running around and laughing like a nut ball. But then I realized – she wasn’t on a sugar rush, she had found her smile again. She was finding her way back to happy.

Kelcey Kintner is the popular blogger behind The Mama Bird Diaries. Featured on Good Morning America, and published in  The New York Time’s “Motherlode” blog and Redbook, she’s also a mama to five children nine and under.

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Posted in: Parental Wisdom, Emotions, Family, Health & Wellness, Modern Parenting, School