By Jocie Ferron
The months of my temporary FIFO life flew by: spring turned into summer; vacation began for the kids; and finally, after months of planning, cleaning, sorting and stressing, it arrived. Moving day!
Excitement, nervousness, anxiousness, madness … these were the emotions that slammed home when the moving truck arrived and reality set in. We were officially on the move, and (hooray hoorah) would soon be living in the same city where my hubby worked.
My hubby and I had spent months planning this move: getting excited, scared and anxious; buying a house; selling a house; and gearing ourselves up for the inevitable goodbyes to friends.
But as excited as we were at the impending move, it was hard not to notice the forlorn looks, the little comments and the sadness emanating from my two boys. The closer it got to moving day, the harder they were finding it. That grand adventure we had talked about (that seemed so exciting weeks ago) had suddenly became the great, unwanted adventure.
In all the craziness that went with the move, it was sometimes too easy to forget how the kids were feeling and coping.
It’s a big life change for an adult. But for four and six-year-old kids, it's also a massive, scary unknown. Our boys had their friends, routines, a school where they felt comfortable and bedrooms which they loved and made their own. They spent their days biking and playing in the local park with the neighborhood kids, feeding the squirrel and chipmunk that called our backyard home, and weeding and watching the garden we had planted grow. They had just discovered the joys of fishing in the lake behind our house and camping with our friends ... and now we were taking them away from it all?
Just watching them in those last few weeks, knowing that in such a short time their world would drastically change, often made my mummy heart break. The inevitable questions would then begin to circle in my head: 'Why are we doing this again?' 'Will they find some good friends?' 'What if they hate it?' 'What if the new school is horrible?' 'What if the house is terrible?'
We have been in our new place for a couple of weeks now. And wow, my kids continue to amaze me!
They have been easygoing and resilient, taking the long three-day car trip, the new house and the routine in their stride. Often it was the boys who made us laugh and helped to ease the stress of moving. And as for worrying about them finding friends ... they have fitted into our new neighborhood with nothing more than a "hello" and are happily inviting themselves to play with the neighbors' kids.
The next challenge is starting school, but if they both face that in the same way they have faced everything else, it should be smooth sailing.
So here are some tips we found useful when moving with kids (and you'll find heaps of expert advice online too).
- Understand it’s a big change for them: Acknowledging that the move is going to affect your kids (and affect each child differently) is imperative in dealing with kids and moving.
- Talk with your kids: As we got closer to moving day, I would ask my sons how they were feeling and let them know it was OK to be sad, anxious and angry (or anything else they were feeling). At times the responses of my six-year old showed me he was thinking about different aspects of the move and that he was trying to make it all work in his head. Sometimes, just listening to their worries is a big help.
- Give them something to be excited about: One big thing my kids were upset about was leaving their bedrooms. So in an effort to increase their excitement, I asked them to pick the new colors of their bedrooms (a brave thing to do in hindsight as we ended up with yellow and green!). And thanks to wonderful grandparents, their rooms were painted before we got there. They also had the chance to choose new bedspreads and pictures for their new rooms … Spiderman now lives all over the walls.
- Show them pictures: We were unable to visit our new house beforehand. But we could see pictures on the internet and our realtor made a video which the boys loved to watch. It helped them to visualize the unknown, to put a picture in their head of where we were going, what their rooms would be like, and what the house looked like. I also found pictures of their new school online, and we looked through the school's website to familiarize them with it all.
More articles from the joyful Jocie Ferron:
- How to survive with young children and a FIFO husband
- Adapting to life in a French-speaking mining town
Australian nurse Jocie Ferron was volunteering in Mongolia when she met her French-Canadian husband, who was working in the mining industry. After a few years living in Australia they decided to settle in Canada with their two young children. They enjoyed a few years in a north Quebec mining town (where Jocie had daily adventures navigating life in French) and they've now settled in New Brunswick.