Moving is a way of life for many members of the military, and particularly with a young family, it can seem like a daunting task. If your toddler or preschooler’s just gotten settled into life at home and it’s time to move already, the transition can be tough. Keep in mind throughout the process that it’s important to empathize with your little one and encourage her to express her feelings so that you can help her through the move and in settling into your new home.
Talk It Out
Talk to your child about the move and why it’s necessary. “Daddy (or Mommy) has a very important job, and we have to move so Daddy can do his job.” Now that he understands why the move is necessary, he can be Mommy’s big helper getting things ready. This may even help get him excited about the move. Get your youngster involved in packing; let him help you search for your new hometown online and pack a special carry-on bag of his important things. Keep your kiddo’s special things with you when moving day arrives; do not pack them. Things can get lost or misplaced in a move, and you don’t want to spend the first night at your new home consoling your child over missing blankies or stuffed animals.
Sometimes military moves don’t come with a lot of preparation time. You don’t want to procrastinate and then end up in chaos, making moving plans, housing arrangements and preschool enrollments at the last minute. The chaos can make things more difficult for your child as well. Go about things in a quick, calm manner to let your kiddo know that you’ve got everything under control. Ask for child care help from friends or family while you get ready for the move. Planning and packing can be an overwhelming task, but having someone to help watch your little one can ease the burden and keep things calm for your family.
Get Your Bearings
Seek out information about local services, child care and schooling in your new town so that you feel comfortable before the move. Look for local mom groups that provide the opportunity to meet other mothers with young children in your new area. Larger groups like MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and MOMS (Moms Offering Moms Support) can put you in touch with local groups around the country. Connecting with a mother’s group can help get you settled into your new community, as well as provide your youngster with new friends, some of whom may be used to moving around, too. If you can’t find a moms’ group in your new area, try calling around to local preschools and day cares for contacts in the community.
A Place to Call Her Own
While you’re getting ready for the move and once you’ve made the transition, it’s important to get your little one familiar with the environment. Start by finding her a special spot — a place she can call her own, just like she had in her old home. Even if you have children who are sharing a bedroom, find a small area for each to identify as her own space.
Similarities and Differences
Now it’s time to start exploring your new surroundings. Take a walk through the neighborhood and talk about things like the weather, the houses, a park at the end of the street and anything else that is similar to your old home environment. Talk about how your little one will make friends in preschool here, just like she did before. Once you’ve established the similarities, talk about any exciting differences. If there wasn’t a park in walking distance of your last home, and there’s one near your new home, that’s an exciting difference!