Keeping it “Normal”

Welcome to the January 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Stay the Same This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the continuity and constancy in their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. ***

We have moved around quite a bit the past 2 years.  With young children, this can be a process.  It really shakes up their world a lot when we move house, because to them, home is the world.  One of the things that we do to help them out with the process is to keep things as “normal” as possible for them.  Here are some of the ways we accomplish this. IMG_20131215_152858

1. The kids’ things are the last things packed up and the first things unpacked.  The playroom is usually unpacked and back in action before anything else.  Their beds, dressers, and hanging clothes are usually next. IMG_20131215_152810

2. Rules stay the same – for the most part.  Almost every rule that we have stays exactly the same with the move.  The exceptions are if there is something at the new house that requires a new safety rule or if there is a big change that I want to make in some area already.  An example of the first is that when we moved into our first house in Ohio, almost all of the lights worked on pull chains instead of switches.  My children were used to being pretty independent and had to learn that climbing on things to reach the pull chains was not safe for them, and they actually broke one of the ceiling lights doing this.  An example of the latter is something like toys having a new location – at this house, ALL toys live in the playroom all of the time.  There are no toys in the bedroom and we don’t play in the rest of the house.  This rule changed the moment we walked in the door because I didn’t want them to get used to having toys all over the house and then have to remember that now we are doing things differently. IMG_20131215_152842

3. The daily routine/rhythm stays the same.  We may be doing things in a new place, but we are still doing them the same old way.  Our sleep and wake times are consistent.  Our meal times are consistent.  Our “morning chores” and other daily chores are consistent.  Heck, even everyone’s laundry day stays consistent.  Knowing what to expect – even in a new setting – really helps the kids to settle in to the new home. IMG_20131215_152958

4. Put things back where they came from.  As much as possible, keep things where the kids will know to look for them.  Try to keep the dresser drawers the same.  Try to keep toys in their same organizational systems.  Try to group things together the same way in the kitchen.  Anything that is familiar will help to keep the transition smooth. IMG_20131215_152950

5. Keep cool and act like this is all normal.  Kids look to the adults in their lives as models for how to handle a situation.  When the adults are stressed and panicking about the move and the newness, the children will be too.  When the adults are calm and matter of fact, the children are more likely to be as well.  Be the example for how to handle the new situation and your kids will find it easier to be ok with it. IMG_20131215_153049

6. Talk and listen to the kids.  Hopefully, this is a normal thing to be doing with children.  Before the big day, start talking about what will happen.  Even very young children can do very well with this.  About a week before our move, we started telling Elliott (2.5 years) that Daddy was going to bring a big truck to the house and put all of the boxes of our things in it.  Then he would drive it to the new house and bring it all inside!  Then we would all live at the new house with all of our things.  It was very simplistic, but it became a mantra for him.  He understood all of that, and he was ready for it the day it happened.  It helped him to not be afraid of packing up things in boxes, and it helped him to not be confused by putting our things in the truck.  It also helped him to be comfortable at the new house, waiting for the truck with Daddy and our things to arrive.  But, when it got dark, and he got tired, he began to fuss that he wanted to go back home now.  I listened to what he had to say and gently reminded him about Daddy, the truck, the boxes, and living at the new house.  We did this a few times over a few hours, and then he was satisfied.  He went to bed and never mentioned going back again. IMG_20131215_152820

7. Keep it positive.  Most of the places we have lived have happy memories attached, but we have always moved for a positive reason.  Reminding the children what good we are getting at the new home often helps to normalize it for them as well.  Our move from Missouri to Ohio was such a huge example of this for us.  It was really hard to leave our friends and family in Missouri, and it was something that my kids tended to focus on.  I reminded them often of why we had chosen to move.  One day we did an activity where we sat down with two pieces of paper and wrote down everything we loved about Missouri on one, and about Ohio on the other.  The page with Ohio had at least twice as many things as the Missouri page.  It gave the kids a great visual and we’ve never again had a discussion about things being better in Missouri.

IMG_20131215_161925

Have you ever moved house with children?  How did you help to keep things normal for them?

*** Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants: (This list will be updated by afternoon January 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • The making of an artist — Some kids take longer than others to come into themselves, so you have to stick with them, as a parent, long after everyone else has given up, writes Douglas at Friendly Encounters.
  • Not Losing Yourself as a First Time Mom — Katie at All Natural Katie continues to stay true to herself after becoming a new mom.
  • Using Continuity to Help Change {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs from A New Day talks about how she is using continuity in certain areas of her life to help promote change and growth in others.
  • Staying the Same : Security — Life changes all the time with growing children but Mother Goutte realised that there are other ways to ‘stay the same’ and feel secure, maybe a bit too much so!
  • Harmony is What I’m AfterTribal Mama gushes about how constant change is really staying the same and staying the same brings powerful change.
  • A Primal Need For Order and Predictability – And How I Let That Go — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she overcame her primal need for order and predictability once her awareness shifted, opening her eyes to the impact this had on her young daughter. Take a short journey with Jennifer and she bares her soul, exposes her weaknesses and celebrates her new outlook and approach to living life, even in the face of total chaos.
  • Breastfeeding Before and After — Breastfeeding has come and gone, but Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow finds that her relationship with her son is still just the same and just as good.
  • A Real Job — Back in high school That Mama Gretchen had a simple, but worthwhile career aspiration and today she is living her dream … is it what you think?
  • Comfortingsustainablemum never thought she would want things always being the same, but she explains why it is exactly what her family wants and needs.
  • The Other Mums’ and The Great IllusionMarija Smits reflects on the ‘great big magic show of life’ and wonders if it will continue to remain a constant in our lives.
  • Unschooling: Learning doesn’t change when a child turns four — Charlotte at Winegums & Watermelons talks about the pressure of home education when everyone else’s children are starting school.
  • Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband’s military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness.
  • Keeping it “Normal” — Kellie at Our Mindful Life has moved several times in the last two years, while doing her best to keep things stable for her kids.
  • The Evolution Of Our Homeschool Journey — Angela at Earth Mama’s World reflects on her homeschooling journey. Homeschooling is a constant in the life of her family but the way in which they learn has been an evolution.
  • Sneaking in Snuggles: Using Nurturing Touch with Older Children — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s son was a toddler and preschooler, he was the most loving, affectionate kiddo ever. But during the course of his 5th year, he drastically reduced how often he showed affection. Dionna shares how she is mindfully nurturing moments of affection with her son.
  • Steady State — Zoie at TouchstoneZ writes a letter to her partner about his constancy through the rough sailing of parenting.
  • A Love You Can Depend On — Over at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, Jennifer has a sweet little poem reminding us where unconditional love really lies, so it can remain a constant for us and our children.
  • Same S#!*, Different Day — Struggling against the medical current can certainly get exhausting, especially as the hunt for answers drags on like it has for Jorje of Momma Jorje.
  • New Year, Still Me — Mommy Bee at Little Green Giraffe writes about how a year of change helped her rediscover something inside herself that had been the same all along.
  • One Little Word for 2014 — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs has decided to focus on making things this year, which is what she is loves, as long as she doesn’t kill herself in the process.
  • The Beauty of Using Montessori Principles of Freedom and Consistency — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the continuity of her teaching, parenting, and grandparenting philosophy using a combination of freedom and consistency.
  • My Husband’s MiniCrunchy Con Mom shares which of her sons looks more like her husband’s baby pictures — and the answer might surprise you!
  • Growth Happens When You Aren’t Looking — Lori at TEACH through Love is treasuring these fleeting moments of her daughter’s early adolescence by embracing the NOW.
  • A New Reality Now – Poem — As Luschka from Diary of a First Child struggles to come to terms with the loss of her mother, she shares a simple poem, at a loss for more words to say.
  • Making a family bedroom — Lauren at Hobo Mama has decided to be intentional about her family’s default cosleeping arrangements and find a way to keep everyone comfortable.
  • New Year, Same Constants — Ana at Panda & Ananaso takes a look at some of the things that will stay the same this year as a myriad of other changes come.
  • I Support You: Breastfeeding and Society — Despite how many strides we’ve taken to promote “breast is best,” Amy at Natural Parents Network talks about how far we still have to go to normalize breastfeeding in our society.

6 comments to Keeping it “Normal”

  • Valuable advice – and you’ve moved so much you know what you are talking about! I love the pictures of the new house, we can’t wait to come visit :)

  • I love the idea of the visual of listing things you love about both places. I mean, good thing it worked out that way, ha ha! But I think it’s a great tool to remind us (anybody) that the grass is usually plenty green where we are. These are great tips, and I will keep them in mind next time we move!

  • I really love how you keep it the same. I moved frequently as a child and would always feel in chaos during the transition, it would have made it much easier if my parents approached the move like you do!

  • JW

    We have the same system in our home when moving. They like moving so much they ask when we are going again (hoping not soon!)

  • I love the first point – we’re thinking about moving in the next couple of years and for some reason it would never have occurred to me to set up the kids space first, but it really makes so much sense! Thank you for the wisdom! x

  • This makes sense. When we moved from our Travel Trailer into this place, we had less than 24 hours notice after waiting for 9 months. Sasha still, even a few months ago, talks about the travel trailer.

    I think a lot of this can apply to vehicle changes, too. My oldest talked about missing a particular car for YEARS. She missed it so!

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