We’re a military family, and summer is just about upon us, and that means it is PCS (permanent change of station) season! We’re relocating from California to Texas in less than a month (gulp), and I wanted to share some of the strategies that we use to prepare our children emotionally for a big move.
For each child we need to use different strategies. Not only are they different ages (7, 5, and 2), but they are also very individual and have individual needs.
For the 2 year old, there’s not much you can do beforehand. They have no sense of time of place at this age, so what we do for her comes during and after the move. We travel quite a bit, so we’re ahead of the game a little bit here, because she is pretty used to staying in hotels. We always bring her Arms Reach Cosleeper for her to sleep in. It never worked out as a cosleeper, but it’s a great travel bed. She also has her favorite toys that she is attached to (all handmade by Pam at The Indigo Onion, she is a fabulous WAHM), and a blanket and pillow that I made for her. Those items make her feel at home, even when we are not at home.
For the older two, we are making them as active a participant in the move as possible. We have boxes that they are supposed to put toys in that they want to take with us, but don’t want to play with until after the move. This makes them feel like they are in control of their precious items, and that they aren’t being ripped away from them when we leave. We have also been showing them houses and will take them house hunting with us. Another thing we are doing is playing up all the fun we are going to have in Texas, especially things that we can’t do in California.
I also have been collecting a slew of new toys and new blankets and pillows. We have a 3 or 4 day drive ahead of us, and so I bought/made them new blankets to keep in the car. These blankets will help give the temporary lodging we are staying in feel homey, and give them something new and exciting for their new room. And the new toys will give them exciting new things to play with until our household goods show up. We have a DVD player in our minivan, so new movies are a must as well. My oldest is an avid reader, so I have new books for her to read also. In addition to new things, we are also letting them choose favorite toys to take in the car with us as well, so they have some comfort items from home.
They obviously have their fears, such as my 5 year old thinks that there are no children in Texas. But listening to their questions and anxieties and answering them very seriously usually assuages any fears they may have.
Life is an adventure, and I think we are ready!