A little over a week ago we loaded up all of our worldly possessions (including teddy bears and baby dolls) and moved from the Upstate of South Carolina to Augusta, Georgia. It was a move that we firmly believe God led us to make, and one which we did with great excitement and expectation. While it was difficult in many ways to say goodbye to so many people that we had grown to love like family, there is also a calm assurance that comes when you know that you’re walking in the center of God’s will for your life.
While Kim and I faced the move with delight and determination, it didn’t take us long to sense some of the struggles that our children were facing during the weeks that led up to the move, as well as on the actual moving day. We commented to each other on several occasions how Jack was acting out. He would get up in the middle of the night and wander through the house or get in bed with us, saying that he was too scared to sleep in his own bed. He began to backtalk and not obey when asked to do things around the house. In general, there was a melancholy, rebellious spirit that settled over him in the days leading up to our move.
Even since we’ve gotten moved into our new home I can still tell that Jack is not quite settled and sure in his new surroundings. While Kim and I are excited over the many new things of our life, it is evident that the “new” things are a little overwhelming for him. Even something as normal as going to church was a bit overwhelming for him last Wednesday night. I watched as he tentatively walked into the preschool wing and acted more withdrawn and quiet than he normally would.
Laura Kate also exhibited some unusual behavior during our move as well. There is no doubt that she is her daddy’s daughter and would often talk about how excited she was to be moving to Georgia and meeting all of her new friends. Like me, she’s never really met a stranger. It was odd, and a little concerning, then to hear about how when she spent a night or two with a close family friend while we got everything loaded up and moved she had a couple of accidents requiring her to have a change of clothes. This highly unusual happening was an obvious sign that even though she may not be showing it on the outside, on the inside there are some strong emotions and struggles taking place.
Last night while on our family walk, Kim and I talked about the fact that this is a time of year when many families will begin to go through the same process of moving. The school year is ending, jobs are opening and so everything has to be loaded into boxes, placed on trucks and shipped to a new city or state to begin a new season of life. For families with younger children this can be a very anxious, stressful and even frightening time.
If you’re a family facing a move, or know of somebody with young children who will be moving in the coming weeks or months, let me share a few simple ideas on how to comfort and care for your children during the moving process.
1. Make time for your children. Even though time may be in short supply during the moving process, your children are more important than moving boxes. Focus on them and show them extra attention.
2. Call in reinforcements. Enlist the help of family and friends who the children love and trust. This will help make sure that they don’t feel left out while your attention understandably has to be on packing boxes and loading trucks.
3. Keep it positive. Be excited about moving into a new house, making new friends, seeing new sights and going to new places. Let them know that this is going to be a fun time for them.
4. Have their rooms ready. If possible go ahead of your children and have their rooms set up when they arrive. Kim and I were blessed to have a family keep our two older children for a couple of extra days so that they could sleep in more familiar surroundings their first night in our new home.
5. Stay on schedule. Moving is one of the most stressful events a family will face. Often it is not just a change of location, but a complete disruption of a family’s normal routine. Do your best throughout the moving process to keep things as normal as possible. Make it a point to get up at the same time, go to bed at the same time, eat the same kind of food and in general keep things the same as possible.
6. Encourage through examples. Tell them the story of how Abraham had to move when God said, “Go.” Talk about a pastor or missionary they know who had to move to a new place to serve God. Help them understand that many times in our lives as Christians we will be called to move somewhere new – and that it’s okay.
7. Be patient and understanding. Moving is hard enough on us as adults. It is even harder on the young hearts and minds of children. Things will not get back to normal overnight, but determine today to love, nurture and display extra affection to them throughout the moving process and the weeks that follow.
Moving is no doubt a very trying time in the life of a family, but it also is a great opportunity to grow closer to each other and spend more time with each other than ever before. Look at it as a great opportunity and trust God to use it for His glory in your family’s life.