As I work to prepare more material for this blog, sometimes I’m humbled by how little I still know about this whole process of moving with kids. Even as I sit here in a house in a military neighborhood writing this post, I think of all the moms in the surrounding homes who have probably moved more times, to further places, or with more children in tow. Even though I feel like I’ve learned a lot after 11 moves, I’m sure there are plenty of people who have it figured out better than I do. (Maybe you are even one of them!)
So what do I have to offer?
At times like this, I’m comforted by my failures, of all things. I’m pretty certain that no matter how many mistakes I’ve made, there’s probably someone out there who can learn from them. That’s why today I’m offering you my failures, my mistakes, and my regrets from moving with kids. So that perhaps you can learn from them, and so your next move will be a little less stressful as a result.
1. I wish I’d been more OK with screens as [temporary] sanity-savers.
With our first two children, I was “Mom of the Year” with screen-free parenting, y’all. I followed all the recommendations to the letter and then some. I went to extreme lengths to protect those precious little brains from the screen-time monster. But during move after move with babies and toddlers, sometimes a mama just needs a break! And a lot of times I just muscled through it until I was past my breaking point. Which ended up causing more stress for everyone, including me.
Were I to do those moves over again, I would cut myself some slack during the really busy stages of moving and just put on a show or two for the little ones. Because a happy mama is ultimately more important for those sweet little brains than total screen virginity.
2. I wish I’d asked for (even) more help.
Before we had children, my husband and I were extremely independent with our moves. We asked for very little help from anyone. After we became parents, it took a long time for me to learn how much of a village it really does take to raise a child. And how much more of a village it takes to relocate a family.
If I could do it over again, I would swallow my pride and accept all the help people were willing to give. Then I would probably ask for some more.
3. I wish I’d scheduled house cleaning prior to the week of the move.
Hiring cleaning help is something I highly recommend if you are moving with kids. But unfortunately not all housecleaning services are created equal. This is not a lesson you want to learn two days before you hand in the keys to your house or apartment! We have had some good and some not-so-good experiences with housecleaning. But the week before a move is not the time you want to deal with the not-so-good.
Since this is not a service we employ on a regular basis, I should have done a trial run with the cleaning company two months ahead of the move. Then when it was done (assuming everything went well) I would have scheduled the move-out cleaning right then and there. It would have saved us a lot of scheduling headaches, and avoided the disaster of needing to find another cleaning service at the last minute.
4. I wish I’d made better attempts to stay in touch with my friends.
We have had some wonderful friends in most of the places we’ve lived. But once we found out we were moving, usually it seemed like there was an unspoken agreement that the friendship would not continue outside of Facebook. I thought I was doing my friends a favor by allowing them the space to invest in relationships with other people who would stay near them. But now I wish I’d made more of an effort to keep my friends close through letter-writing or regular phone updates.
Long distance friendships can take work, don’t get me wrong. But I think in some cases it would have made for an easier parting and the chance for some beautiful long-term relationships. Now that our kids are getting old enough to have a pen pal, it’s something I plan to encourage between them and their friends when it’s time for the next move.
5. I wish I’d hung hooks in our new house right away.
With Command hooks, you can always move them if you decide you want them someplace else. And if you don’t hang them right away, you just start getting used to the mess that ensues. We’ve lived six months now in a house with no hooks on the walls. Though it bothers me, we’ve long moved on from the house-setup phase and now struggle to make it a priority. Meanwhile, winter has arrived and jackets and hats litter the floor.
Learn from my mistake, friends, and hang your hooks the first week in the new house. You’ll be much happier for it.
Learning from my mistakes
I’m sure there are lots more. But these are the regrets that stick out most in my mind, and that I definitely plan to handle differently in our family’s moves going forward. I hope this glimpse into my moving failures has given you something you can use for YOUR next move.
And since our moves haven’t been completely full of mistakes… stay tuned for my upcoming post in which I’ll share a few of the things we did right when moving with kids. Things that made it easier, not harder, and that we would totally do over again.
Until then, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. What are some of your regrets from moving (or other transitions?) Is there anything you would change, or plan to do differently for your next move?